Audi's Power Play 2007 – S6 & S8

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As luck would have it, VehicleVoice and AutoPacific staff had the chance to drive the Audi S6 and S8 this October, after spending time in the RS4 in spring and summer (click for our RS4 driving impressions and general overview). Audi’s high-performance sedans have provided some of our happiest driving hours this year.

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Hierarchy Weakens S6
Seemingly as an effort to carve out a niche for the S6, Audi has given it a middle of the road personality; it is sporting, but not as involving as the RS4. It is nearly as powerful as the S8, but doesn’t offer as much luxury or presence. The S6 is a nice, powerful sedan. But the more involving driving experience of the RS4 is worth the loss in interior room compared with S6. And the S6 doesn’t fill power and luxury shoes nearly as well as the S8, even keeping in mind the S8’s $92,000 base price.
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The 450HP S8 and the 435HP S6 share a 5.2L V10. The S6’s exhaust is tuned for a higher, sportier note, but the S8 gets a throatier and more pleasing rumble. The S8’s deeper tenor supports its powerful personality. Both are tuned to deliver 90 percent of their 398 pound-feet peak torque starting at 2500 rpm, so putting your foot in the throttle always brings the immediate rewards of acceleration and the pleasing exhaust notes.
The V10 gets a six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission that is smooth and quiet in both applications, and the S6’s Sport button can liven up the experience. All in all, I’d rather have a manual for the smaller S6. Its mix of a stiff chassis, superb sport seats, and power is let down by the lack of a manual and, by extension, a lack of driver involvement. The automatic is at home in the S8, with its more remote and powerful personality.
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Selecting an Audi S car, understated as they are, can bring the admiration of those who know what to look for and keep those who don’t away. One of the coolest elements of the S6 is the daytime running lights under each headlight; each bank has five white LEDs to honor the V10 under the hood.
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The S6 offers a usual Audi quality interior and uplevel equipment, with wonderful sport seats (the S8 seats tip to the comfortable side of the scale) wrapped in silk nappa leather. The S6 does not offer as many features as the S8, including the ultra-special Bang & Olufsen stereo, but does come with more stuff than the RS4.


S8: Wrapped in Power and Luxury
The S8 can be ordered with a phenomenal 1000-watt Bang & Olufsen stereo system, complete with tweeters that pop out of the dash and fourteen speakers (each with its own amplifier), but we were more inclined to leave the radio down and listen to the engine. Audi says the $6300 option price doesn’t deter buyers, as nearly all orders have taken the option.

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Though S8 is offered in a standard wheelbase, this powerhouse is large, with an 200-inch overall length. As big as it is, it felt surprisingly nimble along two-lane roads surrounding Montreal. The S8 is a worthy and comfortable steed for a weekend country drive, complementing its nice power statement back in the city. Contributing to the S8’s superior ride is its front and rear air suspension, specially tuned compared with the A8’s air suspension but compliant enough to keep its presumably well-heeled passengers comfortable.
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S6 is Stuck in the Middle
After putting miles in the driver’s and passenger’s seats in all three of Audi’s sporting sedans, we are most enamored with the RS4, but covet the power and presence of the S8. The S6 is a nice and fast cruiser, but not as satisfying overall as either the RS4 or the S8. The RS4 makes for a more interactive driving experience, while the S8 wraps you in exclusivity and power.
The S6 sits between the ultra-luxury power statement of the S8 and the driver’s statement of the RS4, and it’s own statement as a fast mid-size sedan isn’t as strong as the others. This middle child is trying to please everyone, a strategy which rarely works.

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