Review: 2013 Audi S6

If you are eight, then you might not understand why Audi has done away with the V-10 that once nestled in the engine bay of their mid-sized executive boulevard-strafer. A Lamborghini engine in a charcoal wool three-piece? Whoaaa! Cooool! Awesooome!


Well, not slow exactly, but hardly the pants-wetting rocket ship you’d expect. Despite a minor boring out for greater displacement, the 5.2L Gallardo-sourced V10 simply had too much Quattro-equipped mass to haul around—it was a quarter-horse hooked up to a hay-wagon, a 100m sprinter ferrying a fat man around in a rickshaw. Oh yeah, and the fuel economy sucked too.

So, for 2013, Audi has kicked the thoroughbred out of the stable in favour of a rinky-dink V8 displacing just four-litres. The sure-footed Quattro all-wheel-drive is back, and the new chassis has better weight distribution and is a tad lighter. Being an S-grade Audi, all the usual clues are there: silver-coloured wing mirrors, 20” split-spoke alloys in front of serving-platter brakes, a gawping front grille like a basking shark that’s just been to the orthodontist.

Even so, with Audi’s apparent “one sausage three lengths” design, the S6 is entirely reserved. It might have flashy cufflinks, but this is no side-gilled BMW M5. Slip into the interior to find the guts ripped out of a Bentley, beautifully quilted seats that promise comfort, not race car-level side-bolstering. Engage the push-button start and the twin miniature USS Enterprises of the optional Bang & Olufsen audio rise out of the dash, ready to bathe your ears in sonically perfect Rachmaninoff. Or Slayer—whichever.

And that’s the thing. While the S6 does the whole Senior-VP corner-office-on-wheels thing just as well as its less costly stablemates, it’s not only a nice piece of German furniture. There’s a menu selection here labelled “car”, and a dial that flicks back and forth between four settings, comfort through to dynamic.

As we’ve been wallowing along in Comfort, let’s crank up the stacks of Marshalls, so to speak, and see what this thing can do. Dynamic mode engaged, transmission in S, iPod playlist to death metal. Floor it—Whoaaa! Cooool! Awesooome! Holy Sh*t!

The big Audi lights off its twin-turbos like a pair of JATO rockets, grips and just goes. 0-100km/h comes in about three and a half seconds and feels even quicker. There’s no lag, just a wave of kidney-crushing torque flinging you forward into the arms of the waiting RCMP. Oops.

Flick big Bertha into a bend and the adaptive air-suspension works with the all-wheel-drive and electronic trickery to make you feel like the car is nailed to the road with fourteen-inch spikes: no drama, just speed, speed, speed. I’m struggling to think of anything that could run away from this Titan—a GT-R perhaps? Barely.

So, a perfect machine if you’re a Ronin chasing after a mysterious silver suitcase. In the real world though, with a copper lurking behind every overpass, and idiotically suicidal deer behind every tree, it might just be too fast for its own good.

2013 Audi S6
Base Price: $82,300
As-tested: $99,500

Brendan McAleer is a freelance auto-writer based out of North Vancouver, BC, and a member of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada. His work appears in BBCAutos, Road&Track, and elsewhere. Follow him on twitter @brendan_mcaleer.

Photo courtesy of the author. 

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