After the rapturous reception given to the brilliant new RS4 we've got high hopes for the S6.
As well you might. All the ingredients are there: V10 Lamborghini engine, grippy Torsen four-wheel drive transmission, special 19-inch rims, four tailpipes and various S6 and V10 badges dotted around. There are even daytime LED lights mounted beneath the headlights - one for each cylinder to let people know you're driving something special.
But you have to admit it looks like Audi has save the best stuff for the RS6.
Yes, even with those tweaks, the whole is so subtle that the chances of being mistaken for a 3.0 Tdi are not small. The V10 has been detuned from the 450bhp it makes in the S8 to keep the marketing men happy too. When the RS6 arrives it will do so with a twin-turbo version producing over 520bhp and probably get to 62mph nearly a second quicker than the 5.2sec it takes the S6. It will also come with massive wheelarches even bigger than the S6's 14mm flares, and the clever Dynamic Ride control system from the RS4 and the old RS6+ that connects diagonally opposing dampers so the car doesn't bounce along the road like this one. But then the S6 costs Â£55,375; the RS6 is likely to command a Â£10k premium.
You say detuned but this thing is hardly slow.
Far from it. Sixty-two rocks up in 5.2sec and the fun doesn't stop until you've slammed into the obligatory 155mph limiter. Making the engine work with a conventional auto 'box (the Lambo uses manual and sequential manuals) meant dropping the rev limiter to save the torque converter and the noise is a bit subdued. In fact the whole experience of planting your right foot is surprisingly low key: exciting, unless you've driven an M5 or E63.
What about that 60:40 torque split? Is this the end of understeering Audis as we know them?
Fear not, Audi has managed to stop things getting too fun. In fact it's a lot of marketing guff really - more fun than old hot Audis but not as good as the new RS4. Although you can sense the torque split changing in certain conditions, it never feels remotely rear drive on the road to most drivers. You're certainly never going to find yourself drifting out of damp roundabouts even if my brochure says it can send up to 85 per cent of its torque to the rear wheels. The steering is more direct than on lesser A6s and it's great in wet weather, although disturbingly tubby. The saloon weighs 1910kg and the Avant 50kg more.
But at least I can expect the usual fine Audi attention to detail inside?
Certainly can. The cabin is as beautifully trimmed as every A6 and then some: tasty carbon trim on the dash, beefy Recaro seats that, although not as buckety as the RS4's, are much more comfortable and far less likely to break after a year of buttock-brushing. Buyers are saved from the horrible flat-bottomed RS4 wheel too whose plastic section makes it feel like a kids toy. Ride apart, this cabin is one of the nice places to while away a motorway journey we can think of.
What else is in the pipeline?
As you'd expect, there's an estate version too, and that's the one we'd recommend. The Avant bodywork adds an extra 50kg but that negative is more than outweighed by the extra practicality - and desirability - of the five-door shape.
If you were looking for M5 excitement you're probably better off waiting for the turbo'd RS6. It will be faster, more fun and a lot more likely to get you noticed. But as an inconspicuous means of travelling very fast - if not particularly comfortably - with your entire family in tow, the S6 makes the cut, particularly given its favourable pricing.