RE: Audi S6: Driven

Thursday 23rd May

Audi S6: Driven

Once a five-cylinder, then a V8, a V10 and a V8 again - but can the S6 recipe work as a diesel?



What would make you buy a large, Audi 'S' saloon, coupe, or estate? Sounds disingenuous, but isn't intended that way - what would make you buy one? Typically the formula has comprised considerable performance, a certain assured, understated style, all-weather quattro traction and a smattering of schporty luxury touches. Arguably the original Audi S8 typified it best: not monstrously fast, rather a nicely appointed 'bahnstormer that looked good, went well and was evidently a cut above any other A8 - for those that cared to look.

Alright, so Ronin helped. But the point is that the engine is seldom the be-all and end-all of an Audi S-car, the wider appeal being based on their consummate, all-court ability. The notion of buying an RS6 solely for that monstrous V8 or an RS3 for its dreamy 2.5-litre five-pot is easily feasible - but it must have been a while since an S car was bought for its motor.

So a diesel S6 potentially makes sense, doesn't it? The package has always been about the effortless performance of a large, torquey engine, huge distances covered with immense ease and supreme refinement - surely all facets that a diesel can certainly deliver. And let's be pragmatic: the days of stuffing V10s and 8,000rpm V8s into executive saloons are behind us, lamentable though that passing may be. And remember when Audi persisted with the 4.2 in the B8 RS4, a smooth and savage symphony of a V8? It was criticised for having too little torque...


Let's not dismiss the fact, either, that the last time Audi made a diesel 'S' model it was the SQ7; anathema to many a PHer, surely, a wanton show of excess indicative of all manner of ills, but - whisper it - an incredible car. Spookily responsive, effortlessly torquey and, rather like a hippo, surprisingly fast across ground. It set a new bar for diesel performance.

Then diesel had its publicity disaster. Arguably it had already had its disaster by the time of the SQ7, but the recovery has been much more about retreat than defiant retaliation. Porsche won't make any more cars for the black pump, and others could follow. Is the demand there for uberdiesels any more? Audi will talk about the suitability of this car Europe, the efficiency and the range, but that's never been in doubt - it's the attitude towards, and appetite for, combustion ignition vehicles that has changed. In an increasingly fractious political atmosphere, is there sufficient customer confidence to sink £60,000 into an oil burner?

That's a discussion (and a discovery) for another time; for now this is the car we have, the RS6 still a little way off, and enough to be encouraged by: that clever EPC and mild hybrid technology is now applied to a six-cylinder diesel and packaged in a much more palatable A6 saloon, for a start. There's also now the option of four-wheel steer as well, a first for an S car.


It will come as little surprise to find the S6 feels, on first impression, like a W Hotel on four wheels: cool, clean, stylish and contemporary, while still luxurious enough to justify the premium over something more ordinary. Displays and materials are beautiful, the haptic feedback of the large touchscreen buttons making it more intuitive than most. Many would happily admire the design and drink in the ambience, happy not to drive anywhere at all.

But if they did want to drive? Well, in what feels like a tradition as time honoured and reliable as the sunrise, this Audi S model is frustratingly inconsistent dynamically. Able, assured, and a very long way from just adequate, albeit lacking the cohesion that marks out the very best. And which has been found in a few Audis before, lest it be forgotten.

The engine is super, though. In a similar fashion to the larger 'twin supercharged' (i.e. the electric compressor and turbo) V8, it makes you a little forlorn about the uncertain future these engines face given their eminent suitability for this sort of job. Aided by that clever 'charger (that can reach its 70,000rpm turbine peak speed in 250 milliseconds), the V6 responds from next-to-no revs; the best part of 2,000rpm is required for the bulk of the performance, because the compressor contributes a lot less than the exhaust turbo, although the zeal and willingness from less than that it is welcome in what is a typically torpid area for diesels.


Once fully puffing, moreover, the S6 is mighty, loping authoritatively through its snappily selected intermediate ratios and accruing speed consistently and calmly. With less outright power than a Focus RS and a kerbweight getting on for two tonnes it'll never take your breath away, yet there's considerable appeal in the S6's dutiful, elastic acceleration. Sounds good, too, muted and gruff all at once.

All test cars were fitted with 21-inch wheels, the Sport Differential and the new four-wheel steer, plus adaptive air suspension. The result, though is an S6 that feels a little disjointed, with the eagerness of the four-wheel steer sometimes unsettling (then the Dynamic Steering that must be had with it further compounding matters), the grabby brakes at odds with a nicely calibrated throttle and a seemingly plush ride that can be flummoxed by successive imperfections. They feel like disparate elements of a package rather than one - pardon the phrase - homogenous dynamic whole. Of course the S6 is perfectly capable, with boundless grip, huge braking performance and great comfort away from the most challenging stuff, but it's still not a satisfying car to interact with.

Should that matter? Arguably not, given an Audi S model's list of prerequisites - they're very seldom remembered as great drives, yet fit the requirements of buyers down to the ground. That doesn't change with the S6, the prospect of doing many miles with its bountiful torque, fine accoutrements and imperious demeanour seems very appealing. It's just a shame that that it can't be combined with the sort of rich, engaging drive found in cars like the Jaguar XF and BMW 5 Series - the latter in particular proving that driving enjoyment and contemporary luxury are not mutually exclusive traits.


Despite reservations though, it's hard not to enjoy the S6 experience. The new diesel motor occupies the space left by a petrol engine very ably, given the job it's typically expected to do. Certainly it works better in a 6 than a 7, the latter's sportier suspension tune upsetting the serenity created in the saloon. The former still best represents the S package we're all accustomed to - and the one that buyers have proven only too keen to embrace.

In short, it's fast, it's discreet, it'll be fazed by nothing and it looks great. Nagging quirk though it remains, the chassis's inability to dazzle won't register as a concern to anyone previously convinced. The oil burner might, but the new S6 is no less adept at covering big distances at big speeds than any of the petrol-burning cars. And its strengths remain in high demand, regardless of the powertrain. Don't forget about that rather lovely Avant, either...


SPECIFICATION - AUDI S6
Engine:
2,967cc, V6 diesel (with electric compressor)
Transmission: 8-speed tiptronic auto, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 349@3,850rpm
Torque (lb ft): 516@2,500-3,100rpm
0-62mph: 5.0 seconds (5.1)
Top speed: 155mph
Weight: 1,955kg (DIN unladen) (2020)
MPG: 36.2 (WLTP, 20-inch wheels) (35.3)
CO2: 164g/km (171g/km)
Price: £60,000 (approx.) (£62,000)

SPECIFICATION - AUDI S7 SPORTBACK
Engine:
2,967cc, V6 diesel (with electric compressor)
Transmission: 8-speed tiptronic auto, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 349@3,850rpm
Torque (lb ft): 516@2,500-3,100rpm
0-62mph: 5.1 seconds
Top speed: 155mph
Weight: 2,010kg (DIN unladen)
MPG: 35.8 (WLTP, 20-inch wheels)
CO2: 170g/km
Price: £68,000 (approx.)





Author
Discussion

foxhounduk

Original Poster:

206 posts

122 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
I’m intrigued by the diesel electric combo. I want one. I don’t mind that it’s down in bhp from the old one.
It’ll have to be in red avant form only though: looks stunning.

tommy1973s

229 posts

113 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
As someone who has an Ur-S6 5-cylinder turbo petrol (bought primarily for its engine), I'll just pretend this hasn't happened - a diesel S6?! I'm sure it's a fine car, but ffs call it something else ...

n4aat

443 posts

154 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
To the point around people sinking £60k into a diesel. People don’t. Finance companies do. If the bottom falls out of the market then people will just walk away after the PCP finishes.

supacool1

29 posts

121 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
Having had an S6 V10 for a long weekend where we vmax'd it-there was no limiter up to 177, I can say it was all about that engine. The engine was epic. The rest of the car was a nice place to be with all optional extras ticked. But the engine made that car. On start up it had muted presence. When you blipped the throttle you knew something powerful was under the bonnet waiting to be let off it's leash.
On full chat over 5000 rpm it was eargasmic all the way to the limiter.

A diesel S6 won't do that.

yonex

14,334 posts

110 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
It’s the big brother of my awful A4, why can’t Audi make a brake servo work, why is their steering so weird, why does the damping only work on smooth roads?

I’d never own another. Cars made for people that like the badge but care nothing about driving
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andrewparker

3,560 posts

129 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
Why did they decide to make it look like an unmarked police car?

Nerdherder

719 posts

39 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
Wafty ruffled leather luxo barge spec on a chassis like this for me please.

A shame really that ruffled leather is not a thing anymore.

Amanitin

212 posts

79 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
from the rear this looks exactly like a BMW.

also please excuse the pedantry this early in the morning, but a turbine is a device that _extracts_ energy from flowing gas/fluid. I.e. a windmill has a turbine. An electric motor driven compressor does not have a turbine.

Shambler

796 posts

86 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
Its a handsome car the new A6, I have been impressed with my current S4 and I think the change to diesel might be an interesting one. I think this new engine in the S4 might suit it better than the V6 turbo petrol of the previous model. But then again I would appear to be different from most of the PistonHeads members as I can enjoy a car whether it be diesel or petrol, 2,3,4,5,6 or more cylinders and front, rear or four wheel drive.

I am sure this thread will soon be filled with comments about how dreadful Audi’s are and how a petrol rear wheel drive car with a tricky rear end would make a much better buy. As always these posters seem to take great offence when a manufacturer produces a car fit for a purpose rather than make something that is tailored for their exact driving god needs and would sell in handfuls.


brickwall

3,004 posts

152 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
Given the discounts knocking about on A6s, I should imagine there'll be some cracking deals on these in the not-too-distant future.

E65Ross

22,650 posts

154 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
n4aat said:
To the point around people sinking £60k into a diesel. People don’t. Finance companies do. If the bottom falls out of the market then people will just walk away after the PCP finishes.
Will that not likely mean higher PCP costs? I have no idea, genuine question. But yes, you're right.

TurboHatchback

3,423 posts

95 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
It's a no from me. The previous S6 with the turbocharged V8 petrol is pretty much my perfect luxury saloon, I would very much like one but I really don't like diesels and despite having two less cylinders and all the fancy boosting it appears to offer barely any better fuel economy than the V8 petrol, I don't understand the point. Maybe it's objectively better but nobody picks an S6 with their sensible hat on, it should have a proper V8 petrol.

Michaelbailey

215 posts

48 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
I think a key ingredient in a S car has a lot of the time been about the engine. 5.2 v10 from lambo, 2.7 twin turbo in the S4, supercharged 3.0 in the S4, 2.2 in the old S6, even the 4.2 V8 though not the greatest rep it makes a heavenly noise! A diesel I don't think can provide the same as what those engine above provided though they are all different. I know diesels have come a long way but theyre just not a petrol engine, revs, noise, refinement and lightness is something that I think has always never been as good as a petrol and with the current climate I suspect it never will. Theres a reason you don't get a Rolls Royce TDI. In the Q7 it was passable if not warranted to give the S badge too but this S6 seems a rather sporty A6. Much like the A6 Biturbo Diesel. This would have been such a different story should it of just had an A badge, even just let the S badge die in the A6 variant rather than dilute the value.

I 8 a 4RE

58 posts

183 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
At the end of the day that VAG 3.0 V6 TDI is just not a pleasant engine. In most applications, linked to automatic gearboxes it is jerky, slow to pick up and then gives you all at once.

Poorly configured in multiple VAG products I've driven with the same engine.

NJJ

163 posts

22 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
It comes down to this, it may look good but a diesel engine is just not charismatic. The point of a super/fast saloon like this is that you should want to occasionally take the long road home or out for a Sunday blast, a diesel A6 will never be that car. It is a tool, a smart, luxuriously appointed one, but a tool nonetheless.

Pintofbest

571 posts

52 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
Nerdherder said:
Wafty ruffled leather luxo barge spec on a chassis like this for me please.

A shame really that ruffled leather is not a thing anymore.
Where can you see ruffled leather?

cerb4.5lee

11,670 posts

122 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
I find the switch to diesel quite interesting considering that it is widely hated from what you read. Audi must be confident and I guess that they understand the market though.

BIRMA

2,557 posts

136 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
Certainly worth a look in 5 years time as it would have dropped like a stone in value (my guess) plus we will find out if the engine is any good long term. If it all adds up nicely in that time it'll make a good bargain barge.

Edited by BIRMA on Thursday 23 May 09:02

Vocht

1,324 posts

106 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
The shift to diesel doesn't concern me, it's more the actual figures this produces. The MPG simply isn't good enough for a diesel or for the performance on tap. The 640d was producing similar figures to this 8 years ago but also got 50mpg.

If I was in the market for this car I'd wait for the new 8 series GC which gets more MPG and hit's peak torque quicker (502lb ft at 1750-2250rpm), is lighter and faster.


Dave Hedgehog

10,266 posts

146 months

Thursday 23rd May
quotequote all
and we thought audi could not find a way to make their sports cars even more soulless

audi 'Hold my beer'