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Motoring: 2007 Audi S6 placed high on pedestal

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | March 12th, 2007

People often ask me about who makes the best cars in the world. I tell them that the top three manufacturers are as follows: at number three is Subaru, at number two is Porsche and the top step goes to Audi.

The reason I put Audi on such a pedestal is simple, it's their pursuit for perfection. No matter which Audi you get your hands on, it will be a great car. Audi's attention to detail, finesse, refinement and quality is excellent, and I honestly believe that no one does a better job than Audi.

No matter what Audi you drive you can sense it was a product of thorough design and tested in every possible way to make it as perfect as can be. Even a base Audi A3 is nice to drive.

When Audi gets to the business of a serious performance car, competition better beware. That was proven last year with the RS4, a car I call the best mode of transportation the world has ever seen. It isn't just good, it isn't just great... it is better than that.

The RS4 is so good in fact I miss it dearly and can't wait to get a chance to get in it again.

But what about its elder brother the S6, one of the new rockets from Audi, how does it fare?

I first drove the new S6 at an Audi event back in October at Mosport International Raceway. Mosport is a thrilling track and can punish not only a talentless driver but also a horrid car. On the track in a few short laps, I could already see that the S6 is one hell of a car.

Its acceleration thanks to its Lamborghini derived V10 engine is phenomenal, its grip thanks to the famed Quattro all-wheel drive system is astonishing, and its massive brakes will stop you faster from 100km than it takes you to say “these brakes are amazing”.

So around the track it proved to be a missile, but what is it like in the real world?

To find out, I spent a week in one, and for starters all I can say is things just get better and better.

The S6 is based on the mid-luxury segment A6 model. Since it is based on a luxury car it has all the luxury amenities you expect. Everything moves about electrically, which is normal, but then it has Audi's wonder MMI system, which allows you to scroll through different menu's for audio, navigation and car settings.

On top of the gadgets, this is a comfortable car to be in. The Recaro sport seats are great and hold you nicely, although if you are a bit on the plump side, you might not like these seats too much. Otherwise this is an ideal car for those who want to move a family around in style and speed.

Yes, lets talk about speed. This has one mother of an engine. It is a 5.2-litre, V10, that is based on the block from a Lamborghini Gallardo. For improved drivability and reliability, Audi throws out all the fragile Lambo bits and replaces them with quality Audi parts. The end result is 435 hp and 398 lb.ft. of torque. That might be a bit down on Lambo's horsepower number, but then this engine is much more tractable in city traffic and causes no concerns even in a traffic jam.

But this car is not about city traffic, it is about open highways. When you find an open, safe stretch of road where the eye of the law is not gazing upon you, and you decide to open it up, this car goes like a bullet train.

When you do decide to open it up, I advise you to put the gearbox in “S” for sport mode. Then the throttle response sharpens up, the car holds onto the gears longer and it uses five of its six gears to hurtle you towards its top speed. Trust me on this, this car is much faster than you might be imagining it is and it is stable and confidence inspiring. So it fulfills the role of an executive missile very well, but when you're done with the speed thrills, slot the transmission into the “D” setting and it slows down a bit and relaxes.

Now most cars of this size are great on a straight-line run and cruising the highway, but fall to pieces when you throw it into the corners. Not this one, the S6 shames many sports cars when it comes to the twisty bits. If you get to tackle the corners with an S6, I advise you to place the gearbox in the TipTronic mode and play with the gear ratios yourself. Thanks to paddles located on the steering wheel you can choose whichever gear you want to fling you out of a corner. Trust me this car even in the handling course is a joy. It is in fact too good for words.

So it seems like a perfect car, but even perfection can sometimes be improved upon. For me, the only thing I would wish from Audi is to offer this with a proper manual gearbox. As good as this automatic is, having a manual would just make it a proper enthusiast machine like the RS4.

So this is the best in its category for now. Can't wait until Audi launches the RS6 version of this car.
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