It surely rankles Audi
execs, engineers, and marketers that their venerable four-ring German marque,
despite its recent proliferation of highly desirable models and real quality
improvement, still doesn’t make much of a blip on
Perhaps they see it as a mostly front-drive brand in a mostly rear-drive segment. Yet Audi’s pioneering quattro all-wheel drive — rear-wheel-biased under normal conditions — is standard or available in nearly everything it builds. Maybe they consider it little more than parent Volkswagen’s upscale sibling, though it shares little with VW above the compact A3.
But consider it they should, and this hot-blooded, taut-muscled, V-10-powered luxo-sport sedan is one excellent new reason. The mighty V-10 puts the S6 in the same exclusive class as BMW’s M5, Dodge’s Viper SRT10 sports car, Lamborghini’s Gallardo supercar and its own big brother S8. In fact, Audi supplies the Gallardo’s 513-hp V-10 to corporate cousin Lamborghini, and this somewhat tamer ten-holer is a close relative.
The sophisticated 5.2-liter FSI (fuel straight injection) 40-valve aluminum V-10, the first in Audi’s history, generates a scenery-blurring 435 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque in the S6, with 90 percent of the latter available as low as 2300 rpm. While the BMW, Viper, and Lambo V-10s deliver 500 or more horses, this one trades off some raw power for luxury-appropriate refinement. Its fuel is injected at high pressure directly into the cylinders, its two-stage magnesium variable intake manifold breathes through two separate air paths with twin air filters, and its four chain-driven overhead cams are continuously hydraulically adjusted.
2007 Audi S6
Audi’s latest quattro system normally routes 60 percent of driving torque to the rear wheels and 40 percent to the fronts through a self-locking center differential. But when conditions warrant, it can instantaneously adjust that split between 85 percent rear and 65 percent front. When traction control is undesired or counterproductive, the standard stability control can be shut down in two stages: push the button to deactivate traction control only; push and hold for three seconds to disable everything but anti-lock braking and the electronic differential lock (EDL).
Transmissions, steering, chassis, and brakes are appropriately upgraded for such prodigious power. The mostly aluminum suspension is four-link front and self-tracking trapezoidal-link rear, which Audi says improves steering precision and directional stability by reducing rear bump toe-in as the springs move through their range of travel. Tires are aggressive three-season performance types on 19-inch alloy wheels.
2007 Audi S6
Bold grille, calming cabin
The S6 leads with a big, bold eggcrate grille in Audi’s new single-frame surround, and it advertises its cylinder count with LED daytime running lights (DRLs) lined up five to a side below its front bumper. Bi-xenon adaptive headlights and LED brake lights are standard. V-10 badges grace its flanks, a subtle integrated deck spoiler and quad-oval exhaust tips (somewhat smaller than we think they should be) enhance its derriere.
The instrument panel is a simple design elegantly executed with premium materials and quality craftsmanship throughout, and it uses Audi’s Multi-Media-Interface (MMI) system to control most major and lesser functions. We prefer individual switches and buttons, however many it takes, but find MMI less annoying and more user-friendly then BMW’s infernal iDrive.
The S6’s twelve-way power heated front seats are upholstered in Silk Nappa leather with integrated headrests and great lateral support. The three-spoke steering wheel, complete with audio controls and power tilt-telescope adjustments, is trimmed in smooth leather with beautifully detailed stitching. Standard interior trim is gray birch wood, but shiny (plastic-looking) carbon fiber is optional. Also available is Bose Surround Sound audio with a glovebox-mounted six-disc CD changer.
Audi says it invests time and budget to develop such powerful, athletic S models for three good reasons: to provide maximum driving enjoyment for sport-minded buyers who can afford them; to demonstrate a high level of technical competence; and to “conquest demanding new customers.” We expect the 1000 S6s planned for the North American market in 2007 to go a long way toward accomplishing all three objectives.
2007 Audi S6
Transmission: Six-speed Tiptronic automatic, all-wheel drive
Length x width x height: 193.5 x 79.2 x
Wheelbase: 112.1 in.
Curb weight: 4486 lb.
Fuel economy (EPA cty/hwy): 15/21 mpg
Major standard features: quattro all-wheel drive, Servotronic vehicle speed-sensitive steering, Bi-xenon adaptive headlights, high-pressure headlight washer, Bose premium audio with 6-disc CD changer, dual-zone automatic climate control, 12-way power heated front seats, power adjustable steering column, power glass sunroof, universal phone prep with Bluetooth wireless capability
Safety features: Electronic Stabilization Program (ESP), ABS braking with traction control and brake assist, advanced front air bags, front seat-mounted side air bags, side curtain air bags, seatbelt pretensioners and force limiters
Warranty: Four years/50,000 miles
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