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2014 Audi S6 Test Drive Review

2014 Audi S6 – Click above for high resolution gallery

Car Tested: 2014 Audi S6

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 1,11,65,300/-

The Audi S6 merges performance and practicality in one brilliant package.

The Audi A6 is one of the best cars in its segment and that’s largely because the German automaker has mastered quite a few things and put them beautifully in their mid-sized saloon. Case in point being the comfort, space, quality, design and dynamics of the Audi A6, a car which is quite an all-rounder. In fact, if there was anything to further accentuate the desirability of this car, it would be a high performance engine and voila, Audi has done just that with the S6.

The Audi S6 is the performance version of the A6 and unlike the Mercedes E63 AMG and BMW M5, the S6 isn’t your hard-edged 4-door missile, it’s in fact treading right in between, neither too maniac to live with day to day, nor too tamed down to prevent your heart skipping a beat. So where does the Audi S6 fit in?

Motor Quest: The Audi S6 was first launched in 1994 and the current generation model came to the market in 2012. While the S6 is a performance car, the real rival of the E63 and M5 is the RS6 which isn’t offered in India as it’s available in station wagon body style only.

The S6 is very similar in appearance to the A6, the vehicle on which it is based with small differences

Exteriors – A quick look at the exteriors of the Audi S6 will make most believe this is another luxury sedan, which it certainly is but with an evil monster of a motor hiding under its belly. The giveaways are there but very subtle. For starters the massive 5-armwing, 19-inch S-Line cat aluminium wheels can’t be missed and even if you manage to get well past that, there is no way you can ignore the ‘V8T’ badging on the front fender.

Plenty of S6 badges (including on the brake callipers, front grille and boot) are enough to signify that this car isn’t the one worth messing up with.

Well that’s not all. The front grille has two chrome bars on it while the side mirrors are finished in matte aluminium. The biggest give away about the the 8-cylinder engine under the hood are the quad tail pipes which sit on a neatly finished faux diffuser on the lower half of the rear bumper.

There is also a very sedate rear spoiler (the front bumper also gets a small lift spoiler) but it’s not the one which will generate any down force so its meek dimensions are certainly not going to make you take the S6 as a serious performance sedan. Audi has definitely got the lay man fooled because the exteriors don’t flaunt too much of sportiness with sedate appeal being the norm here.

Interiors – The Audi A6 boasts of excellent interiors and we love how the dashboard extends to the doors with the continuing line which gives the appeal of the interior being bigger than it actually is. We all are very familiar with Audi’s interiors as most parts are shared across the range. The Audi S6 however gets a more sportier outfit, it has all black interiors rather than the dual-tone ones seen on the standard car.

The dashboard, centre console and doors get matte finish aluminium inserts and carbon inlays with the QUATTRO badge proudly placed in front of the co-driver, just to comfort them about how all that power is being challenged safely.

The steering wheel is a 3-spoke unit (the regular A6 has a 4-spoke steering) and the sportier wheel also has an S6 badge with aluminium paddles but the lack of electric adjustment for the steering is not expected at this price point (even the moonroof is manually operated). The pedals also get the aluminium treatment and the upholstery is sporty Alcantara leather. The buttons on the centre console are well laid out and although plenty in number, they are relatively easy to understand and use.

Space inside the car is plenty, in fact you can find comfort in any of the seats (the front ones have ventilated function with both cooling and heating options). Quality inside is simply excellent and so is the feel from the cabin. One big gripe is the right side mirror, which is too magnified and hampers rear visibility.

The BOSE audio system gives good sound output but you really don’t need to listen to music as the V8 makes its own.

Performance – Talking about music, the Audi S6 has a 8-cylinder engine which outputs a muted snarl most of the times (which isn’t audible till you mash the throttle). The NVH levels are fantastic (the car has Active Noise Cancellation) so you really can’t hear all those 420 horses galloping at full force (between 5500 to 6400 RPM).

Without any second thoughts, the S6 is all about the 4.0-litre V8 engine which thrusts out a peak torque of 550 Nm right from 1400 RPM to 5200 RPM, that’s a wide torque spread with immense turning force to keep you charging towards the horizon. In fact, in spite of all this mad output, the S6 flaunts a sober side as well.

Drive the Audi S6 normally and you won’t really realise that it has so much performance on tap. It’s just so composed and never feels like it can do 0-100 km/hr in 4.6 seconds with a simple nudge of the big pedal. In fact, driving in the city is a calm affair, the S6 ambling around town with utmost comfort. It’s this character of the vehicle that makes it such a brilliant daily driver, a car you can take to the office without scaring your neighbours silly every morning.

There are 5 modes in Audi Drive Select – Efficiency, Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual. This tweaks the engine/gearbox, steering, air suspension, sport differential, engine sound and belt tensioner. You can also manually put either of these parameters to comfort, auto or dynamic.

In efficiency mode, the Audi S6 tries to stretch every litre to the maximum kms possible (usually around 6.5 km/l) and that’s largely due to the cylinder-on-demand technology which shuts 4-cylinders when you are driving sedately and firing them back up when you get on the gas heavily. Get a bit aggressive with the throttle and the S6 simply wants to take off. Turbo lag is almost negligible and once you floor the pedal, the S6 simply rushes to its 6500 RPM redline with a lot of ferocity.

It never bogs down and nudges past 200 km/hr in no time at all, not struggling one bit till its 250 km/hr limited top speed.

The twin turbos are always on song when you want to blur the horizon and the real madness starts post 4000 RPM while the quad pipes start to emit growling sounds past 5000 RPM, just like if a storm has been hurtled. The way this motor keeps going is something, although it’s not as ferocious as the E63, it’s still fast but more manageable.

In-gear acceleration is excellent as well and you can cruise comfortably (you can also use cruise control which let’s you change speeds by 1 km/hr or 10 km/hr) with the tachometer ticking in at 1600 RPM at 100 km/hr. The gearing could have been better as 100 km/hr comes in third, requiring an upshift just before hitting the ton. The 7-speed gearbox offers smooth shifts and depending on the mode, it can be calm to lightning quick.

Driving Dynamics – While Audi has given the S6 a stonker of an engine, they have calibrated the suspension extremely well to deal with both the calm city runs and spirited highway journeys. The Adaptive Air Suspension is just terrific, it gives the S6 the best ride quality in this class of a vehicle.

You cannot make out if the S6 is such a quick car running on ultra low profile 255/40/19 tyres (Goodyear Eagle F1s while the spare wheel is a space saver and is branded Temporary tyre of Pirelli make). On comfort mode, the suspension is just too pliant and absorbs everything so well you are left in disbelief.

However get into dynamic mode and the suspension is ready for sporty handling. There is ample amount of grip and the quattro system works very well to channel all that power down although the weight of the Audi S6 can be felt at really sharp turns.

The ESP kicks in many a times when you dial in full revs and when there is some unevenness on the road, all this keeps the S6 pointing right in the direction you want it and credit goes to the electro-mechanical steering wheel as well, which is light at low speeds but weighs up very quickly as you start going faster. High speed stability is excellent and it’s only bad roads which make the car a bit bouncy at speed.

If you have had a sharp look at the Audi S6 before getting behind the wheel, you would have tremendous confidence of braking hard. The sporty alloy wheels have an open design and clearly show the large discs. Braking performance is terrific and the S6 stops with laser guided sharpness from high speeds. The brakes are so good that they inspire you to head into corners at insane speeds, the pads don’t wear out quickly either.

When we drove the BMW M5 and Mercedes E63 AMG, we remember what a pain it was to tackle speedbreakers as the low ground clearance of those cars made them scrape their underbelly. With the S6, one need not worry, it simply glides over speed humps without ever touching. You can raise the height of the car with a touch of a button which automatically lowers down once you hit 100 km/hr.

The Audi S6 is the best of both worlds, awesome performance and practicality together

Verdict – The Audi S6 is not only a fast car with splendid dynamics and excellent road holding, it’s also a car which ticks the practicality box with its chest held high. The S6 will do everything the regular A6 does but it does it with a soul and a whole lot of emotion. Not only can you dispense scenery in a blink of an eye, you can also tackle congested city traffic and pothole filled roads without having to worry one bit.

The Audi S6 is just so brilliant in most ways that it easily becomes the go-to performance sedan for our roads. While it can’t match other performance saloons which are more powerful in terms of outright speed and handling, the trick up Audi’s sleeve is that the S6 is unperturbed in the urban jungle, making it a stellar alternative to sports cars.

The Audi S6 is a car which genuinely attempts to bring you the best of both worlds; sporty performance and luxurious comfort, at a much cheaper price than what its other German peers do.

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