First there was the Audi A6, the big but dependable large sedan perfect for those with more retiring natures. And now there's the S6, for those who view retiring as something only "old people" would every dream of doing.
What's it about?
Looking at Audi's A6, it's hard to imagine that this docile and seemingly harmless machine could be transformed into a killer racer with a snap of the fingers. But add a bigger engine and a few sporty chrome bits, tweak some settings and voila, what you have is a giant-eating S6.
And as much as Audi would like you to believe this car and others like it in the Ingolstadt stable are a show of its engineering prowess and performance possibilities, don't be fooled. This car is all about the engine. Full stop.
Under the bonnet
Like the S8, the S6's aluminium 5.2 litre V10 FSI's basic structure is shared with the desirable Lamborghini Gallardo, so its performance statistics should be worth noting. And a meaty 320 kW and 540 Nm of torque is nothing to scoff at.
Naturally, big brother S8 has the bragging rights, with it getting the lion's share of the output (331 kW) and weight reducing agents to give it the edge over the 0-100 km/h sprint. This difference of 0.1 seconds is merely academic, but a (claimed) time of 5.2 seconds is still mighty quick.
The lightweight S6 may have been somewhat shortchanged, but this certainly does not detract from its eagerness. Power is seemingly available with as little effort as a foot brushing the accelerator. And while it remains a large sedan, despite its lower ride height and numerous carbon fibre trimming, there is an instant of lag when pulling away as the car fights inertia.
But make no mistake, that lag is only evident for an instant, and once the S6 starts charging, it would appear only those massive 18-inch brakes would be capable of halting its offensive.
Since the S6's drivetrain uses quattro with a 40/60 rear-wheel bias through a Torsen differential, the super saloon is nimble too and permanently poised for battle. And while its sports suspension does much for firming up the ride, it's not so hard as to shake loose any bones. Not that the big V10-powered machine requires much coaxing.
Power is shoved to the four points via Audi's standard six-speed Tiptronic, though this too has been tweaked with revised shift patterns for more immediate responses. But whether you choose to let the auto box do all the work for you, or whether you choose to do it yourself by using either the console shifter or steering wheel paddles, the result is the same - instant gratification.
This term has been bandied about by sociologists, anthropologists and their ilk so often that it has essentially been reduced to some sort of curse, but not so for the S6. It gives those dirty little moments of instant gratification new credibility. Especially when the V10, with the typically understated rumble hits peak power at 6 800 r/min, changes up as the needle edges over the 7 000 r/min line, and unleashes a rumble that is, sadly, rather muted for those in the cabin.
But for those that can appreciate the silence, the insulated cabin also drowns out most road and tyre noise.
Features (as a matter of course)
The driver, and all those around him/her, will of course never doubt that the car's occupants are moving at great velocity, strapped in and shoved into those beefily bolstered embossed sports seats.
While the S6 may be "all about the engine", its cabin makes enjoying the car's performance capabilities that much more pleasurable. Audi cabins generally tend to be comfortably dark, but the S's sumptuous interior has been made more exciting too. One friend went so far as to describe the array of lights greeting her on entry into the cabin as " a disco on wheels" (although I'd like to know when and where she got the chance to experience this mobile phenomenon), but it really is a bit more than that.
S equipment is littered throughout the cabin, where you are greeted with an special door sill trims, an S steering wheel and instrument cluster.
The S6's real party trick, from the outside at least, is the neat row of LED running lights on the front spoiler. Mere mortals may overlook the platinum grey grille, the sportier bumper treatment, the subtle V10 badging on the flanks, subtly integrated boot spoiler and even the quad tail pipes (believe it or not), but everyone notices those lights.
And of course, they really notice you (and perhaps even those burly tailpipes) when you tear off down the straight, in a puff of V10 smoke.
Muted engine note
There are so many things that endear the S6 to one. It's aggressive stance, athletic styling and meaty V10 brawn are definitely good things. The gearbox's sports shift mode is fun too, though it should really not be used in urban areas...
What's scary though, is that as awesome as the S6 is, the twin-turbo RS6 (that uses the same V10) is the machine that is most likely to be on my list of awesome-cars-I-wouldn't-mind-meeting-my-Maker-in... Let the games begin!
Audi S6 video clip: