Not too long ago we took the new Audi A4 for a spin. And we were very impressed. In its latest generation, the A4 is a supremely rounded machine, blending Audi’s legendary build quality and comfort with a genuinely engaging and impressive drive.
Which got us very excited for the new batch of S vehicles that have just touched down in the Middle East. If a ‘standard’ A4 can be so great, what can we expect from the models designed to have more poke and more performance credentials?
Based on the latest generation A6 released last year, the S6 is the most powerful car in the range available, at least until the M5-rivalling RS6 touches down next year. For now, performance fans have to make do with its twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine, which makes 414bhp and 406lb ft of torque, sent to the now-legendary Quattro all-wheel drive system via a seven-speed double-clutch S tronic transmission. This gives the S6 a 0-100kph sprint in 4.6 seconds, which I think we can all agree is not too shabby for a car that’s knocking on the door of 1900kg. Top speed is limited to 250kph.
We’ll get to the performance shortly, but first a bit about the looks. The number of times Audi wows us with unexpected visuals can be counted on one hand, but that doesn’t mean the S6 is boring. It takes the already honed looks of the A6 and adds a frisson of extra sportiness by way of a chromed grille and strip on the front bumper, as well as jazzed up side skirts and aluminium effect wing mirrors.
At the back, the diffuser also gets a dark aluminium effect and there’s a small spoiler on the boot lid. They’re all very subtle tweaks to the already understated – but stylish – A6 lines. Only four elliptical tailpipes and the S6 and V8T badges really give the game away.
Inside, I’m faced with what must be Audi’s best interior so far. They’ve always been quality offerings – solid as a particularly hardy rock and with deep thought into what needs to feel good to the touch – but the S6 takes things further with a beautifully designed cabin. There’s cohesion to the individual elements, all cocooned inside a wraparound feature from the doors and across the top of the dashboard. Our test car has carbon fibre trim liberally painted over the front of the cockpit and a new instrument panel, with two inclined analogue gauges either side of a wide colour screen. It’s classy, contemporary and hard to find fault with.
On first impressions, there’s little wrong with the driving experience either. The sports seats could do with being a little lower – they’re fine for a regular saloon but for the full sporty feel I wish they were just a couple of centimetres closer to the floorpan. But they’re comfortable and supportive. Stab the red-ringed metal start button by the gearstick and the V8 gives a growl and settles to a quiet idle.