Bavaria is bouncing. Following FC Bayern Munich’s superb performance in the Champions League, beating Real Madrid and getting to the final, it’s party time in the city. Meanwhile, Ingolstadt too has had reason to rejoice with the launch of the Audi S6 and S7. With Bayern’s huge result still fresh in everyone’s minds, there was a special feeling in the air when I arrived in Munich. But, there was something even better waiting on the tarmac — those brutal looking S derivatives. That gleaming row made for a magnificent sight that even the presence of three S6 Avants couldn’t ruin. I jumped into a Misano Red S6 and headed onto Bundesautobahn 9.
Now, despite what you may have heard about the autobahn, it does not, sadly, bear any resemblance to a Formula 1 track on race day. You won’t find X6 Ms or Cayennes zigzagging past slower moving traffic here. It’s all extremely methodical and lane discipline is the order of the day. Accidents are rare because ‘reckless’ isn’t a word the Germans are familiar with. But by heck, they know what ‘exciting’ means and the S6 and S7 are evidence.
Producing the hopped-up versions seems to have been relatively simple. They’ve taken the regular A6 and A7 and added an aggressive body kit, deeper air dams in the front and chunky skirts all around to give them more muscle. Under both bonnets lies a meaty 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 with 420bhp and 550Nm on tap.
Previously, the S6 had a detuned 5.2-litre V10 that motivated Lamborghini Gallardos but downsizing is the way to go these days. This delightful powerplant, which Audi says is 25 per cent more efficient than the one before, has been mated to a fabulously smooth seven-speed twin-clutch tranny with paddle shifters. For good measure, Quattro all-wheel drive has been thrown in (40 per cent of power goes to the front wheels, 60 per cent to the back) while extensive use of aluminium rather than steel has kept the weight down to 1,895kg for the S6 and 1,945kg for the S7.
The finishing touches are a set of 20in cast aluminium rims and four chrome-tipped oval tailpipes, transforming your A6 and A7 into excitement personified. These things look like they just want to go. And go they do. The S7 might be a tad throatier than the S6 but both gobble up the autobahn and devour sharp corners with ease and comfort while willing you on to push them to the extreme. Audi says its cars are electronically limited to a top speed of 250kph but I managed to push the S6 to 265kph before it ran out of legs.
The cars’ chassis dealt with road imperfections with shocking alacrity. Packing an adaptive air sports suspension which lowers the ride height by 10mm, both cars remained poised, firm and gripped like a vice. Fitted with an advanced suspension featuring a five-link front end and trapezoidal link rear axle, the cars were far more agile than their size would have you believe. The front axle has been moved forward by 71mm to help improve axle loads while their electromechanical power steerings, with perfectly positioned aluminium shifters, felt communicative and had a nice, weighty feel about them.
The fact that both cars sip just 9.6 litres-per-100km (stop-start and cylinder deactivation take a bow) and have a range of 550km on a full tank means they’re well worthy of a solid pat on the back. That’s especially so when you consider how gutsy they both are: 0-100kph is accomplished in just 4.8 seconds in the S6 and 4.9 seconds in the S7. And, compared to other force-fed motors, there’s hardly any lag here at all. You floor the loud pedal and the response is immediate. But just why the automatic spoiler is present on the S7 and not on the S6 is a mystery. It rises up from the edge of the boot automatically at high speeds to improve downforce and stability. It doesn’t look bad either.
They’re built to last too. When you’re gunning along at speed, there’s no danger of the engines coming loose at the bolts due to vibration. That’s because they come fitted with sophisticated active engine mounts which, simply put, cope way better with the stresses put upon them. There’s also no need to raise your voice at passengers even when the needle has spun right around the speedo.
The fabulously clever active noise control feature operates via a cancellation signal using four microphones in the headliner that play the cabin’s ambient noise through the sound system. This takes care of unwanted road, tyre or wind noise from entering the delightful cabin. Decked out in a brand new oak and aluminium trim, the interiors have been crafted with painstaking love and attention. The electrically adjustable seats, with ‘S’ embossing on the headrests and a diamond stitch pattern, embrace you like they’re seeing you after years.
I usually find head-up displays a bit pointless, but top marks to Audi, for its one doesn’t just project the speed you’re going — it also shows navigation instructions and the speed limit of the road you’re currently on. The MMI navigation plus with an 8.0in monitor which neatly folds away is a highlight, as is the 60GB hard drive, touchpad controls and best of all, Google Earth functionality.
Under the skin, they’re identical. The driving sensation of both is equally thrilling. They handle almost as crisply as each other too (the extra weight on the S7 dulls performance ever so slightly), but if I had to choose between them, I’d go for the Sportback purely for those swoopy looks.
I could happily live with the fact it’s just a tad slower from 0 to 100kph than the S6. It’s elegant, comfortable and blisteringly quick. Both models almost fit the bill as true sportscars but their everyday drivability credentials are not in question. Do they have what it takes to give the M Division and AMG sleepless nights? Absolutely. And this is before the range-topping RS6 shows its face.
In the end, Audi didn’t gate-crash FC Bayern Munich’s party. It just made the carnival atmosphere in Bavaria even better thanks to its own polished performers.