Fast but not that much fun and, with overly firm suspension, no that comfy.

Our Verdict

Audi S6 Avant

Outstanding all-season ability and impressive everyday practicality, but lacking intimacy on challenging roads and beginning to show its age in certain areas

  • First Drive

    Audi S6

    Fast but not that much fun and, with overly firm suspension, no that comfy.

What's new? Daylight running lights sound very Swedish, very safe and very boring. But not when you’re talking about 10 high-intensity LEDs spread wide, low and about 30cm in front of a V10 that’s spinning at 7000rpm in fourth gear. These are ‘move out of my way’ lights.Audi S models are meant to be the discreet alternative to the full-blooded RS variants. But with a deep, chromed grille, flared front wheelarches and those piercing lights, anyone finding an S6 rapidly filling their mirror is unlikely to think it’s all that discreet.Why the brashness? Because this car is about one thing: the 5.2-litre V10 engine, and its relationship to a certain Italian supercar. Buy the £56,600 S6 estate (or £55,330 saloon) and you’re getting a Lamborghini engine. Except you’re not – in the Gallardo you get 520bhp, but exhaust restrictions and corporate politics dictate that the S6 gets ‘just’ 429bhp.What's it like? Unfortunately it feels like an engine neutered of its true potential. At idle there’s a enticing warble and under load a promising thrum, but let the revs rise and the V10 never quite delivers the thrill you expect. But once you’ve got over the disappointment that the V10 isn’t quite the firecracker you might hope for, it remains a mighty engine: the 429bhp and 398lb ft of torque propel the S6 to 60mph in 5.2sec and on to the limited 155mph top speed in no time at all, even if the pace is less frenetic than in that other German V10 super-saloon, the BMW M5.Beyond terrorising other autobahn users, however, the S6 is somewhat disappointing to drive. It’s fast, and with four-wheel drive certainly secure, but the only reason it is engaging is because you feel every ripple on the road surface. Even on smooth German roads the ride felt poor, so expect it to be worse in the UK.Should I buy one? Does the S6 run the M5 close? Not a chance. Even the versatility of an estate (and an M5 wagon is coming), more low-down torque and a slicker auto ’box can’t help the S6. In fact, Audi’s own RS4 is just as fast, better to drive, has an engine every bit as intoxicating and is only slightly less practical. Less is most certainly more.Jamie Corstorphine

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Comments
1

19 February 2009

Yes but the S6 can be had with Tiptronic transmission and the RS4 is manual only. Now I know that to many purists manual is the only way to go but spending as much time in traffic jams as I do I now want an auto type box and so for me that gives the S6 the edge over the RS4 as a purchase. Mind you if there was such a thing as an RS4 Tiptronic then I'd be buying one tomorrow.

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