THERE’S ELEC­TRIC SU­PER­CHARG­ING TO HELP US WARM TO THE IDEA OF ITS DOWN­SIZED EN­GINE THAT RE­PLACED THE TWIN-TURBO V8

Motor (Australia) - - FRONT END. JUST LAUNCHED -

mo­men­tum over the first 100 me­tres or so. It’s only once you’re above 100km/h, and the 2.9-litre’s wind­ing out in third gear, that the S6 re­ally feels like it’s lifted its skirt and strides for­ward with pace wor­thy of the Au­to­bahn’s fast lane. And the times prove it.

This near two-tonne sedan will stay with a Toy­ota Supra from 80-120km/h (which takes 2.66sec) and it’s car­ry­ing 183.84km/h across the 400m line after 12.47sec. That’s quick enough to hurry up last-gen­er­a­tion hyper-hatches like the AMG A45 or RS3 if you ever find them on a long straight road.

As for stop­ping, the Audi hauls from 100km/h in 34.67m, or shorter than some hot hatches thanks to huge 400mm front discs and six-pot calipers.

How­ever, while its brak­ing and ac­cel­er­a­tion sug­gest a high de­gree of agility there’s no deny­ing the Audi S6 is a heavy car. Audi’s worked hard to min­imise the weight in­crease over the old ver­sion, keep­ing that to just 15kg with an ex­otic-me­tal in­fused MLB Evo plat­form that can­cels out ex­tra weight from the bat­tery.

Yet there’s no sav­ing its ride-height ad­justable air-sus­pen­sion from two tonnes. For the most part it does what it should and de­liv­ers ex­cel­lent ride com­fort, smooth­ing out wavy roads with proper long-stroke cush­ion­ing while keep­ing the car’s tra­jec­tory solid and straight at speeds above 140km/h.

Lat­eral loads are what re­ally chal­lenge it, though. The humble grip on 255mm-wide Pirellis ex­pose a lack of roll stiff­ness in both fast sweep­ers and hair­pins, even when it’s hun­kered down an ex­tra 10mm in Dy­namic mode.

On top of this, while the pro­gres­sive steer­ing rack gains ac­cu­racy at higher speeds it’s not as lin­ear or as re­spon­sive as we’d like and the S6 can get flus­tered when be­ing hus­tled.

Mind you, it will ro­tate nicely if you nail your trail brak­ing and hold its cor­ner­ing line un­der power out of cor­ners. We’d just sug­gest keep­ing an eye on the front brakes dur­ing a blast, be­cause while they might not wilt in the heat of bat­tle, they can get a lit­tle smoky given they’re tasked with rein­ing in the front axle in lieu of a lim­ited slip dif­fer­en­tial.

We only won­der what po­ten­tial lies undis­cov­ered here since our car is miss­ing Audi’s $7700 Dy­namic pack­age. The pack adds rear-steer­ing out back and dy­namic steer­ing up front, along with an elec­tron­i­cal­ly­con­trolled rear LSD, and while the ver­dict is out on what ef­fect they’ll have on the S6 we know they’ve trans­formed other Audis.

Un­til then, though, our S6 re­mains one di­men­sional in pur­pose. It’s built to turbo-charge long jour­neys and make sure that with a cloud-like ride, pow­er­ful brakes and sure-footed grip, tour­ing at high speed is a pinch.

There is one hic­cup. On a roll you can catch the driv­e­train snooz­ing at steady speeds even when it’s primed in Dy­namic mode, but we sus­pect it’s more a prob­lem with throt­tle map­ping than the auto’s ac­tual hard­ware.

The eight-speed is oth­er­wise silky smooth and rarely puts a gear wrong. It’ll hap­pily down­shift and hold your se­lected cruise speed with­out as much as a vi­bra­tion, even when se­lect­ing third gear at 110km/h.

Boost­ing its grand tour­ing cre­den­tials on the open road are radar sys­tems that co-pi­lot the car with eerie in­tu­itive­ness. The throt­tle pedal will shrug your foot off when it knows the car is ap­proach­ing a low­ered speed limit, while the lane keep as­sist is so ac­cu­rate and smooth you al­most trust it to take the wheel if it were le­gal.

Ul­ti­mately, the S6 feels like the place where Audi’s dif­fer­ent prin­ci­ples in­ter­sect. It’s as com­fort­able as the A8 yet more ac­cel­er­a­tive than an S4, but it’s also lost that spir­i­tual link its fore­bears had with each RS6 for that all im­por­tant ex­otic ap­peal.

We’ll just wait and see how much that mat­ters when it takes on AMG’s hy­brid E53 and BMW’s M550i xDrive.

IT’S BUILT TO TUR­BOCHARGE LONG JOUR­NEYS ON A CLOUD-LIKE COS­SET­ING RIDE

Front elec­tric seats are nicely bol­stered but lack some un­der­thigh sup­port. Ul­ti­mately they are not a huge step up from the S4 items like we ex­pected

BE­LOW S is sig­nalled by stealthy blacked out trim across the rear lights and sur­round­ing glasshouse PEW PEW SITTIN’ PRETTY Me­tal-fin­ished ped­als are solid and well placed for right-foot brak­ing only. The driv­ing po­si­tion is great and the steer­ing wheel of­fers plenty of po­si­tion ad­just­ment REV ME UP Audi’s stan­dard 12.3-inch Vir­tual Cock­pit fea­tures re­designed graph­ics, of­fer­ing a new boomerang-shaped rev bar in place of a tra­di­tional dial

ABOVE Vault-like cabin is plenty quiet when you want it to be, in­su­lat­ing out most tyre noise but then let­ting in a rorty V6 note when sum­moned

LEFT An eight-speed trans­mis­sion comes with its own vi­bra­tion damp­ener and feels ut­terly seam­less in shift and op­er­a­tion

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