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wheels car of the year 2012 best sports saloon: Audi S6

With a new twin-turbo engine, the Audi S6 is a warp-speed ticket into your darker side

Audi S6
Image Credit: Grace Paras/ANM
The new engine defines the character of the car.

Audi’s seminal A6 line has been with us for a while, and the previous generation S version shared its V10 heart with the R8 and Lamborghini Gallardo. What then are we to make of the latest version with a new twin-turbo V8 under the bonnet?

Externally, there’s very little changed from the regular A6. The grille gets some chrome, the bootlid gains an achingly subtle little lip spoiler, and there are some new side skirts, but apart from the badge on the side of the wings, that’s about your only clue. Until you try to keep up with one, when it will all become very clear.

In a word, this new engine is a stormer. So good, in fact, that you’ll find a version of it under the bonnets of three of our CoTY cars, in varying states of tune. In the S6, it is set up to produce 414bhp, and 551 Nm of twist, from as low as 1,400rpm.

The new engine defines the character of the car. Where the old version was characterised by the high-revving, normally aspirated V10 howl, this is all muted thunder, a lovely deep bass waffle, restrained at town speeds, allowed to bellow when pressing on.

And press on you will, because the S6 is a seriously quick car — expect to see the 100kph mark in 4.6 seconds, on the way to a restricted 250kph top speed.

It is the way it gets there that engages most — at any speed, there is instant shove, and no trace of turbo lag. The lighter weight of the downsized engine also helps the handling, with sharper turn in and easier steering.

The rest of the car is standard Audi, which is to say about the best that you can buy, period. Everything is beautifully finished, the seats are comfortable, the controls mostly intuitive and nary a squeak to be heard. Apart from a startled passenger, perhaps.

For us, the S6 is one of the best Audis of all, and our favourite sports saloon of the year.