Audi S6 & S7 Review
Road test: Audi’s new high-tech twins punch above their pay grade
Audi S6 & S7
What kind of world do we live in when a spec sheet arrives with the numbers 309kW/550Nm on it and you think, 'hmm, that's not very much'? It may sound strange, but when the heaviest hitters from BMW and Mercedes-Benz have crested the 400kW mark, in the realm of fast German limos, 309kW isn't a great deal anymore.
But here's the thing. Audi's new S6 and S7 aren't designed to duke it out with AMG and M Division - it has its 'RS' cars for that. Think of these 'S' models more as indecently rapid, range-topping variants of their respective ranges.
And rapid they are. Largely thanks to Audi's trademark quattro all-wheel drive system, not a skerrick of that power or torque is wasted. Sister magazine MOTOR recently extracted 0-100km/h in 4.6sec - a tenth faster than claimed - and a 12.6sec standing quarter mile from an S7, proving it's not how much you've got, but what you do with it that matters after all.
This pace is a product of a new Audi-developed 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 that is so high-tech, it makes an iPad appear Stone Age. Two twin-scroll turbochargers deliver peak torque of 550Nm from just 1400rpm, and all the way to 5200rpm, while the exhaust manifolds, turbos and intercoolers are all sandwiched into the 'vee' of the engine - minimising the distance the compressed air has to travel and improving throttle response.
Cylinder deactivation saves fuel by allowing the engine to run on four cylinders at light throttle loads - Audi claims 9.6L/100km - but here's the really clever bit: because running on four cylinders creates unwanted vibration, there are active engine mounts and microphones in the cabin that combine to cancel out those intrusive frequencies.
And it works - the switch between four and eight cylinders is undetectable and there's plenty of grunt immediately on tap when you floor it. The linearity of the power band means it doesn't feel as fast as it is, but the main disappointment is the sound. Or lack of it. This engine (in 373kW/660Nm guise) is also available in the latest Bentley Continental, where it snarls like a wounded tiger, yet all you get from inside the Audi S6 or S7 is a muted warble.
Each car's mechanical specification is close enough that any drive impressions more or less apply to each car. The swoopy coupe-hatch S7 is 49mm longer, 37mm wider and 32mm lower than its sedan sibling, with tracks 17mm wider at both ends and enormous 265/35R20 rubber (S6 runs 255s). It's the heavier of the two (by 50kg) at 1945kg but it carries its weight lower - call it even.
In typical fast Audi fashion, both are capable of ridiculous corner speeds with little drama. Understeer seems to set in early, only for you to realise you just easily took that corner at twice the speed the advisory sign recommended. Hustle the car too hard, though, or try and change attitude mid-corner, and you are met with a firm 'Nein!' thanks to the ESP system and near-two-tonne kerb weight.
Just 50 of each will be available at $168,900 (S6) and $179,900 (S7). Given buyers at this end of the market tend to tick all the boxes anyway the only options are adaptive cruise and park assist. Everything else - sunroof, television, 20-inch wheels, carbon interior inlays, sports rear diff, air suspension, you name it - is standard, hence the huge price premium over the next rung in their respective ranges.
As fast, luxurious autobahn tourers, the S6 and S7 have few peers, especially in poor weather. But they are too heavy and not involving enough to be considered sports cars. It'd be nice if they had a bit more animal in them to justify the 'S' prefix, but I guess we'll have to wait for the inevitable RS versions for that.
ENGINE: 3993cc V8, DOHC, 32v, twin turbochargers
POWER: 309kW @ 5500-6200rpm
TORQUE: 550Nm @ 1400-5200rpm
GEARBOX: 7-speed dual-clutch
TOP SPEED: 250km/h (limited)
* tested MOTOR magazine
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