Car review: The Audi S6 may have Porsche performance but lacks drama

 
Andrew Brady
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The S6, Audi's new luxury saloon
I’m in the outside lane of the motorway, well into three-figure speeds, chasing a sales rep in a Vauxhall Insignia. I’m wishing the aggressive LED headlights on the new Audi S6 would encourage him to move over and let me make some real progress.
Eventually he does; I squeeze the S6’s throttle and head effortlessly into licence-losing territory.
Fortunately I’m on a derestricted section of the German autobahn, so I’m in little danger of getting papped by a speed camera. This is helpful, as the new Audi S6 is faster than ever, accelerating quicker than a Porsche 911 Carrera. That’s right – Porsche performance from a luxury Audi saloon (it’s not even the fastest five-seater Audi you can buy; the flagship RS6 boasts even more power, although the good people at Audi wouldn’t allow me more than a glance at it).
You can see why Audis are becoming so commonplace on British roads. Last year the Ingolstadt manufacturer sold more cars in the UK than rival BMW for the first time, with an incredible 1.5m units shipped worldwide.


Inside the Audi S6

Like pretty much every model in the Audi range, the S6 feels utterly premium. The sumptuous leather, soft-touch plastics and full compliment of gadgets make it hard to criticise. Hard, but not impossible.
The problem is, it lacks drama. The acoustic glazing does an excellent job of drowning out the roar of the V8 petrol engine. But when you could buy a diesel that’s almost as quick, I feel like you deserve a return on your extra fuel outlay. Part of this ought to be sound, and when it’s drowned out… Well, what’s the point?
The dearth of drama continues on the outside, despite the sharp bumpers and aggressive smattering of matte black. I understand why you might want a fast, understated Audi, but those diesels I mentioned? They’re properly understated – and they wouldn’t be far behind the S6 in a traffic light grand prix.
The S6 starts to make more sense when you leave the autobahn and get onto twisty roads. The four-wheel drive system gives you plenty of confidence to push on, delivering oodles of grip. You can even go into the on-board computer to play around with the settings, tweaking things like the steering and air suspension (which, incidentally, does a commendable job of smoothing out bumpy surfaces). Auto mode is still the best, but the options give you something to play about with on a long journey.
There’s no denying that the S6 is a capable indulgence, but real petrolheads would prefer the RS6. Conversely, if it’s a relaxed cruiser with a good turn of pace that you’re looking for, I just can’t help thinking you’d be better going down the diesel route.
Andrew Brady works for motoringresearch.com.

THE FACTS: AUDI S6 SALOON

PRICE: £56,000
0-62MPH: 4.4 secs
TOP SPEED: 155mph
CO2 G/KM: 214g/km
MPG COMBINED: 30.7mpg
THE VERDICT
DESIGN: ★★★☆☆
PERFORMANCE: ★★★★☆
PRACTICALITY: ★★★★★
VALUE FOR MONEY: ★★★☆☆

NOT CONVINCED? CHECK OUT THESE ALTERNATIVES

BMW 550I M SPORT

PRICE: £57,910
0-62MPH: 4.6 secs
TOP SPEED: 155mph
CO2 G/KM: 206g/km
MPG COMBINED: 32.8mpg
THE VERDICT
DESIGN: ★★★★☆
PERFORMANCE: ★★★★☆
PRACTICALITY: ★★★★★
VALUE FOR MONEY: ★★★☆☆

MASERATI GHIBLI V6 S

PRICE: £63,760
0-62MPH: 5.0 secs
TOP SPEED: 177mph
CO2 G/KM: 242g/km
MPG COMBINED: 27.2mpg
THE VERDICT
DESIGN: ★★★★☆
PERFORMANCE: ★★★☆☆
PRACTICALITY: ★★★★☆
VALUE FOR MONEY: ★★☆☆☆

JAGUAR XFR

PRICE: £65,440
0-62MPH: 4.9 secs
TOP SPEED: 155mph
CO2 G/KM: 268g/km
MPG COMBINED: 24.4mpg
THE VERDICT
DESIGN: ★★★★☆
PERFORMANCE: ★★★☆☆
PRACTICALITY: ★★★★★
VALUE FOR MONEY: ★★☆☆☆

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