Topics:  audi, cars, motoring, road test

Seduction with silky whiplash - Audi's S6 and S7 road test

The Audi S7 Sportback.
The Audi S7 Sportback.

MODEST yet classy, the latest "S" models from Audi do little to shout about their performance credentials.

While it has badging at the back and "V8 T" nomenclature on the right front panel, there is little externally to detect the fun that lies within. But launch the engine, caress the right pedal, the S models shed their executive persona and motoring erotica erupts.

These twins under the skin have a strapping 4.0-litre twin turbo V8 under the bonnet which generates serious speed.

And they are part of an exclusive club. If the starting price of $168,900 for the S6 and $179,900 for the S7 doesn't make them special enough, only 50 of each model will be available.

Both have sub-five second times for the 0-100kmh sprint while also having a sensible side. They have a system which can switch off four of the eight cylinders to help reduce fuel consumption.

Comfort

Sporting seats stamped with S6 or S7 provide an indication of the brutal traits harnessed within.

Beautifully stitched across the lumbar in diamond shapes and with raised side sections, the front pews hug you into place without being restrictive. The layout maintains the traditional Audi blueprint which is functional - once you have the hang of the main operating system. It can be fiddly on first initiations as you scroll through the various menus for sat nav, audio and car settings using a dial on the dash.

Those up front enjoy the best of luxury, and there is also reasonable leg and head room in the back for adults. The S7 is only a four-seater, and the raked lines that look so alluring from the outside might cause some issues for taller passengers.

Throughout the cabin are the finest of finishes, along with slick sporting touches like stainless steel pedals, carbon inlays on the dash and doors, while the driver also has the licence saving head-up display that projects your speed onto the windscreen.

On the road

A dual turbo system delivers seamless power. From the moment you stamp your right foot, the sporty Audi pairing hauls their refined rear ends without issue.

An ability to reach 100kmh from a standing start in under five seconds was once an exclusive club owned previously by the likes of Porsche and Ferrari, but these Audis seem to manage the task without raising a sweat.

But they are not only good in a straight line. The S6 and S7 don't shy away from a bend and embrace attacking the twisties with vigour as the driver gets good feedback through the steering.

You can choose between driving styles, including comfort, dynamic and automatic.

It changes the suspension and raises, lowers or stiffens the car depending on your wishes, with the S7 able to alter its ride height by 10mm - the S6 by 20mm (this also helps to avoid things like gutters).

The 4.0-litre V8 is partnered with a seven-speed dual clutch automatic which does a good job with timely changes for the most part - and you can take control manually with paddle shifters.

Although if left in sport mode things can get clunky at lower speeds as it holds gears too high and thuds its way into changes between cogs.

Audi has armed the models with active noise control, which uses similar technology to the noise-cancelling earphones.

There is limited noise entering the cabin, although you can hear the wonderful tune of the V8 once you get up into the rev range - particularly in the S7.

What do you get?

Given these are special editions, Audi has given the S models impressive specification.

Among the highlights are sat nav, stereo/DVD system with 60-gig hard drive, keyless entry and four-zone climate controlled air-con.

Safety is well looked after with the latest in anti-lock brakes and stability control functionality.

Other options

Apples for apples competition is tough, but you could also consider the Mercedes-Benz CLS500 ($210,800), Jaguar XF V8 Portfolio ($146,100) or the V6-powered BMW Gran Coupe ($184,800).

Running costs

The cylinder deactivation system is silky-smooth and drivers will rely on the information display to see when four cylinders have been stopped.

That system, together with automatic stop-start when stationary, helps keep fuel consumption below 10 litres per 100km - that's good for a performance machine.

Insurance won't be cheap, neither will the servicing. You do get complimentary roadside assist.

Practicality

Audi markets the models as performance with everyday practicality and it's hard to argue. You get good boot space and enough real estate to handle four adults.

Funky factor

Big 20-inch alloys and quad pipes are the greatest hint that the S6 and S7 are something special.

The pair's styling is an athletic understatement ... like Usain Bolt racing in a tailored suit.

The lowdown

Surprise packets don't come much better than the S6 or S7.

While the V10 is gone, this new twin-turbo V8 is a burly unit. It slings you away from the line with consummate ease and with limited fanfare … everything feels so effortless.

Audi has filled another niche with the sedan and sportback models, perfect for those who want the commonsense of four doors and cabin space without sacrificing performance.

The writer was Audi's guest in Montville.

What matters most

The good stuff: Outstanding acceleration, practical set-up.

What we'd like to see: More V8 note (especially in the S6).

Warranty: Three-year unlimited kilometre while there is also 24-hour roadside assist for three years after the car is first registered.



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