The entire drivetrain of the Audi S6 has been designed from scratch. The engine's power on the S6 is translated into locomotion by a six-speed tiptronic as standard, which adapts to the driver's style by means of an intelligent feature. The software program that controls this automatic transmission electronically has been optimised to deliver more dynamic gear changes compared with other Audi models; the gear changes are noticeably swifter.
The driver can call up the transmission's "S" sport mode via the selector lever - it still performs upshifts even at relatively high engine speeds. And it is possible to change gear manually in both modes by means of the aluminium-look shift paddles mounted to the steering wheel. The selector lever has an aluminium look and - like the steering wheel - is trimmed in smooth leather.
The servotronic steering with its variable ratio has a more direct response than in the A6. This, too, results in even more agile handling.
Power and control
Typically for an Audi, the new Audi S6 likewise takes quattro permanent four-wheel drive as its basis. Its virtues are already widely acknowledged: superior traction in all driving conditions. More than a quarter of a century of expertise acquired in this domain by the Ingolstadt-based brand has led to the development of a new quattro generation with asymmetric/dynamic torque split - further evidence of Audi's guiding principle of "Vorsprung durch Technik".
A centre differential, installed longitudinally in the driveline, distributes power between the front and rear wheels, always according to the prevailing situation. The split in the basic setting is 40 percent to the front wheels and 60 percent to the rear. This slightly rear-biased torque split has been chosen to place even greater emphasis on the sporty, dynamic character of the Audi S6.
If the surface conditions change - for instance if they are wet or slippery, or if the car is driven onto a different type of road surface - the purely mechanical differential responds without any delay; depending on the road situation at any given moment, it can divert up to 85 percent of power to the rear wheels or as much as 65 percent to the front wheels. If a wheel on one axle spins (wheel slip), it is moreover brought under control by the Electronic Differential Lock EDL, which applies the brakes.
The electronic stabilisation program (ESP) shuts down in two stages: when the ESP button is pressed once, only the ASR traction control system is deactivated; ESP remains active, to stabilise the car if needed. The instrument cluster briefly displays "ASR off" and the ESP symbol remains permanently lit. This mode stays active in the S6 until ASR is switched back on by pressing the ESP button a further time. On the S6, ASR does not cut in automatically once a defined speed is exceeded (as is the case on the A6 / A6 Avant). If the ESP button is pressed for longer than three seconds, all ESP functions are switched off. Only the electronic differential lock EDL and ABS remain active. Pressing the ESP button a further time switches all ESP functions on again. As a result, the desired degree of electronic assistance can be determined by the driver via the ESP button. Without ASR traction control, the degree of stability can, within certain limits, be determined by the driver via the accelerator pedal. This permits a decidedly sporty driving style if desired.
The drivetrain concept of the new S6 always ensures that the enormous forces generated by the V10 engine can genuinely provide efficient, minimal-loss propulsion, something that vehicles with one driven axle only rarely achieve. It is consequently able to develop and use high levels of power all the time.
The dynamic suspension layout of the new Audi S6 is based on a technology that has already demonstrated its sports calibre in the most challenging of conditions: the refined four-link front suspension acknowledged as a typical Audi feature and the self-tracking trapezoidal-link rear suspension carried over from the Audi A8. This combination gives the S6 one of the most complex and efficient rear suspension layouts currently available. In terms of its kinematic behaviour, this technical treat already provides a foretaste of the sporty, active characteristics of the Audi A8 - measures that enhance directional stability, steering precision and handling convenience. The entire layout is designed in such a way as to produce a neutral response with a moderate tendency to understeer when the very high limits of handling are approached.
The principal components of the chassis feature lightweight aluminium construction, resulting in decisively lower unsprung masses. The targeted use of sheet steel, on the other hand, achieves optimum rigidity wherever it is required. In selecting specific materials and manufacturing methods for each individual suspension link, Audi's engineers have been able to ensure that the chassis represents an optimum blend of low weight, high rigidity and safety.
As a reflection of its explicitly sporty character, the suspension settings of the S6 have been made firmer, even compared with the A6 sports suspension, and at the same time assures a high standard of comfort for long-distance driving. As the elastokinematics have likewise undergone comprehensive modifications, the Audi S6 is always noticeably more agile; meanwhile, driving stability and traction have been further optimised.
The Audi S6 is equipped ex works with 19-inch cast aluminium wheels of a 5-arm wing design. The wide tyres are of size 265/35 R19. An 18-inch brake system assures supreme braking performance and is resistant to fading even under high loads.
Its four large discs are ventilated, the discs on the front wheels measuring 385 millimetres in diameter and those at the rear measuring 335 mm. The brake calipers are painted black, and are adorned with an exclusive S6 badge at the front.