SOMETIMES ITíS OKAY TO BE BIG†AND CLEVER

AUDI S6/S7

TIM ROBSON

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE

S TAND DEAD in front of Audiís thoroughly madeover large sedans, and youíd be hard pressed to spot the difference. Open the bonnets and itís almost impossible. So what is the point of having the four-door S6 and five-door S7 in the local roster, especially if lowriders are on the nose?

WellÖ just look at them. If non-SUV passenger vehicles were off the menu, someone forgot to tell Audi. Thankfully.

Fundamentally, of course, these two are the same. Both pack Audiís latest 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged V6 petrol engine that benefits from a 48-volt electric compressor to quell lag, and which is good for 331kW and 600Nm. Both run the same eight-speed automatic that feeds all four wheels†via a self-locking centre diff, and both can be equipped with rear-steer and a tricky rear diff for $7700 more.

Aside from its Sportback rear deck lid, the $159,500 S7 varies from the $149,900 S6 by dint of an extra 22mm in a width, 29mm less height and 25mm extra length, as well as slightly wider track widths. The S7 also carries higherspec LED headlights and nicer Valcona leather seats. The S6 is 15kg heavier at portly 2010kg, too.

On the outside, the LED headlights marry with an LED tail-light array, while 21-inch alloy rims, metallic paint and a panoramic sunroof are standard.

Inside, both follow the lead of the A6/ A7 with a double-screen approach to a new multimedia array, which combines well with Audiís digital dashboard.

Other niceties that come standard include wireless Apple CarPlay (at no ongoing cost), inductive phone charging and four USB ports that double as media access points. Audi claims that itís jammed an extra $20,000 of spec in for this new generation and Ė taking into account the brand new V6 under the bonnet Ė itís reasonably easy to spot where the money has been spent.

The chance to pedal both cars was meagre but sufficient; after all, the MLB Evo platform, Audiís adaptive dampers and six-piston brakes arenít†that new. The application of the Porsche-sourced 2.9-litre V6 is, however, as is the optional rear-steer set-up, and Ė aboard the S7, at least Ė the combination is engaging.

The engine is sinuous and fulsome, with a ramrod rush of torque from tickover to redline, and the ride/ handling balance is spot on for the S6/ S7ís pacey tourer brief. It lacks the hard edge that will be the domain of the incoming RS6/RS7, and that makes the S siblings a delight to live with.

Accommodation for five is better served in the S6, while the S7ís transformation into a five-seater is a bit of a head scratcher Ė but it can carry more stuff than the S6. Which do we prefer? The S7 Ė visually, itís a stunner.

TIM ROBSON

Model Audi S7

Engine 2894cc 6cyl, dohc, 24v, twin-turbo

Max power 331kW @ 5700-6700rpm

Max torque 600Nm @ 1900-5000rpm

Transmission 8-speed automatic

Weight 1995kg

0-100km/h 4.5sec (claimed)

Economy 8.4L/100km

Price $159,500

On sale Now

PLUS

Slick tech; better ride than most sporty Audis; engine and pace

MINUS

Porscheesque prices; both S6 and S7 are heavy