THRILLERS – 2013 Audi S6, S7, S8 First Drive

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November 6, 2012

Words and Photos: Joel Boucher

Menacing, sinister, diabolical… meet the all-new Audi S models for 2013: The S6, S7 and S8, incorporating Audi’s newly-developed 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engines producing up to 520 hp and 479 lb-ft torque. All three utilizing Audi’s new ground breaking cylinder on demand technology featuring active engine mounts and a BOSE noise cancellation system, together providing a powerful yet efficient, driving experience.

2013 Audi S6

“Menacing – threatening or foreshadowing evil…”

It’s hard not to be chomping at the bit for seat time in the new S6. Equipped with an all-new twin-turbo 4.0 TFSI engine delivering 420 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque, the S6 is able to propel itself from a standstill to 60mph in a mere 4.5 seconds, with a top speed of 155mph (electronically-governed).

The 4.0T twin-turbo V8 is mounted to a capable seven-speed S tronic transmission, transferring power to all four wheels via the quattro permanent all-wheel drive system. By incorporating Audi ultra lightweight technology, the aluminum hybrid construction of the S6 sheds access weight, allowing for more dynamic handling characteristics and increased fuel efficiency.

Audi’s revolutionary cylinder on demand system comes standard on the S6 (as well as the S7 and S8). Under specific driving conditions, the engine operates under a V4 configuration via an electromagnetically controlled camshaft profile (Audi valvelift system); the other cylinders are fully shut down, with fuel and ignition operation halted after taking air into the cylinders to act as a spring to reduce power loss during the transformation. As if it couldn’t get any more remarkable this transition is made in a fraction of a second when optimal operation conditions are reached (coolant temperatures of 86 degrees, RPMs between 960 and 3,500 in third gear or higher.)

You would think a change in engine operation; especially a substantial 4 to 8 cylinder shift would leave unwanted vibrations, right? Wrong. Audi has developed key features to reduce vibration as result of the V4 operation. Active motor mounts (electromagnetic coils suspended in hydraulic fluid) use integrated camshaft position sensors with build-in accelerometers to detect normal V4 operation between 25 and 250 Hz and transmit opposite phase vibrations to cancel incoming vibrations. A noise cancellation system has also been designed to operate under V4 operation and transmit sound waves, using the BOSE audio system of the same amplitude but 180 degrees out of phase, cancelling any unwanted engine noise. It’s nearly impossible to detect V8 to V4 operation. Brilliant.

Exterior styling looks every bit as intense as its V8 power plant. The S model single-frame grill, unique aggressive front bumper with integrated LED fog lights, all incorporated with signature Audi craftsmanship. From the front, this car just emanates, angry machine. Dual polished exhaust tips unleash the growl of the newly developed and surprisingly efficient V8. Standard, 19 inch wheels wrapped in grippy 255/40-series tires help keep you planted on the road.

In Audi tradition, the Interior styling exemplifies performance with top-notch attention to detail and quality components. Our S6 was equipped with black leather sport seats featuring diamond stitching, accented by generous amounts of carbon fiber trim throughout the cabin. Audi MMI controls, wheel shifters and the start-stop engine button are presented in aluminum finish.

On the road the S6 performed exceedingly well. The suspension took the weathered upstate New York back roads without issue, comfortably nonetheless. Find and opening in the twists and stomp on the throttle, the V8 twin-turbo engine plants you firmly in your seat. Power comes in very linear fashion for a turbocharged engine, thanks to the larger 4.0 liters of displacement and overall efficiency of the turbo chargers. The massive ventilated disc brakes do a fine job as well bringing the S6 to standstill in little time. I was pleased with Audis head-up display, part of the driver assistance system found in the S6, S7 and S8. I was able to safely keep track of speed and navigation without removing my eyes from the twisting roads ahead of me.

2013 Audi S7

“Sinister – threatening or suggesting evil or harm…”

Without question, the calling card of the S7 is its styling, suggesting serious performance with serious thrill. The design is simply stunning. I’ll admit, the look of the S7 didn’t immediately appeal to me, but the low, sloping, coupe-like roof, the refined yet thoughtful design elements slowly won me over.

Like the S6, the S7 is equipped with an all-new twin-turbo 4.0 TFSI engine delivering 420 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. Also like the S6, propels the S7 from 0-60 mph in a staggering 4.5 seconds. Thanks to Audi’s new cylinder on demand system, which through the Audi valvelift system, deactivates 4 of the 8 cylinders increased fuel efficiency is achieved. With the included active engine mount system and the BOSE noise cancellation system; full power to full efficiency has never been as seamless as in the S7.

The S7, along with the S6 and S8 feature Audi’s latest driver assist systems. Audi adaptive cruise control helps maintain a comfortable driving space between the driver and other vehicles on the road. This system will detect the risk of a collision by reducing the speed of the S6, S7 or S8 and alert the drive via multiple auditory and on-screen warnings. In extreme cases full braking will occur via Audi brake guard.

Audi has also incorporated their full park assist function with a rear view camera for increased safety. Ultra sonic sensors have also been included to measure the distance between the car and the nearest object. A warning is sounded when too close for comfort.

Our test S7 featured power-adjustable sport seats embossed with the S7 logo and wrapped in black Valcona leather with cross-stitched accents. Finely placed carbon fiber trim and aluminum adorned throughout, including the MMI controls, pedals and the red illuminated engine start-stop button. The thoughtful lines and attention to detail throughout the S7 cabin is remarkable. Feeling spacious but fully bolstered, behind the wheel of the S7 you’re ready to hit the road in confience.

As mentioned the exterior styling of the S7 sets it apart from the pack. At highway speeds a rear spoiler extends out from the rear of the car improving overall stability. Available in standard 19 inch wheels or unique S7 20 inch parallel-spoke “Star” design wheels with large 265/35 profile high performance tires. As with the S6 an S8, the S7 features polished dual double tip exhausts. The S7 features a large Singleframe grill and aluminum side mirrors adding a special touch to the overall exterior styling.

2013 Audi S8

“Diabolical – having the qualities of a devil…”

Never would I have thought a 4 door, 4,641lb sedan could be as terrifying as this monster. The 2013 Audi S8 is an amalgamation of engineering excellence, a no expenses spared example of pure Audi sport in the performance luxury market.

The S8 Features its own all new and unparalleled 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine, which generates 520 hp and 479 lb-ft torque, making it the most powerful Audi sedan ever produced, and fastest – sprinting from 0-60 in 3.9 seconds. If you’ve ever wondered what sort of sensation this produces, put your hands on the sides of your face, pull back hard and go “weeee!” (it’s OK, no one is looking). All of this power is transferred through an eight-speed Tiptronic transmission for effortless acceleration.

Also utilizing Audis new cylinder on demand system, the new S8 consumes 27 percent less fuel than the previous 5.2l V10 power plant, while producing 16 percent more power and better performance. The new innovative cylinder head design places the turbo chargers in the V-bank to provide shorter exhaust paths to increase charger response time.

The interior of the S8 seemed more confined than the S6 or S7, due in part to the higher center console and forward sloping A pillars, hurting overall visibility while in the drivers seat. Controls Throughout the cabin are thoughtfully placed for ease of use. The S8 shares trim colors with the A8 line in addition offering an exclusive Lunar Silver that contains Gray contrast stitching and piping. S8 customers can choose between four trim choices: carbon atlas, matte brushed aluminum, fine grain ash natural brown wood or layered Oak wood. We preferred the carbon atlas that adorned our tested S8.

Our S8 was fitted with black Valcona leather sport seats with exclusive diamond cross-stitching. Additional features include 22 way adjustments coming standard with heat, ventilation and massaging functions. In other words.. you won’t ever want to leave the S8.

In addition to Audis remarkable driver assistance system, the S8 offers a top view camera system. The cameras are located on the front and rear of the car to give the driver full confidence when parking in tight environments.

Exterior styling is big as it is bold. The large, in your face twin front Singleframe grill means business. The S8 includes larger rocker sill moldings; aluminum optic mirrors and a dual rear exhaust system that unleashes the sound from its 520hp powerplant. 21” wheels come standard on the S8. The S8 comes in a variety of standard colors Our test car was treated in Daytona Gray, exclusive to the S8 model.

On the road the S8 felt tight, composed and well controlled, more so than the S6 or S7. Steering felt more on point and calculated than the others cars… seemingly more nimble through the corners. Throttle response felt more reserved and less “touchy” in comparison. Press he throttle to the floor, OH the power! The quiet twin-turbo V8 comes to life blasting a guttural sound for all to hear. Fitted with massive front six piston matt black calipers matched to perforated 15.7-inch diameter rotors, the S8 comes to a stand still as quickly as it rockets to 60mph.

So what do I walk away with from this experience? All three cars performed exceedingly well on the road with styling suited to each specific line. The S6 is the most no-nonsense player of the group, brash with a bit more edge, while the S7 shows more thoughtfulness to design, form and function. S8 breaks all common misnomers in regards to size as it relates to speed and agility. In a class of its own, the S8 incorporates all of the above, exuding luxury, sophistication and extreme performance reigning supreme as the ultimate Audi S car.


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