10 into 6 goes

The latest car to join the FMM collection is an executive saloon with the genes of a raging bull under the bonnet. Donated by a long-time friend of FMM, it is quite a rare machine and Mike Monk takes a drive and recalls its introduction to the local market…


Over the years, the Franschhoek Motor Museum and its forebear, the Heidelberg Motor Museum, have won the hearts and support of a number of individuals who share a passion for preserving motoring history, and particularly South African history. One such person is Pieter Marais, who has lived and worked most of his life in Vereeniging and together with his two sons, runs a successful attorneys practice. Pieter has a great passion for cars and motorcycles and takes pride with all of his acquisitions. Back in 1990 he donated his treasured Suzuki AS50 to Heidelberg rather than simply sell it off (Wayne wrote about this bike in the July 2018 newsletter), and when it came to parting with another prized possession, a rather special Audi S6, FMM was the default recipient.

In 2007, sales of Audi’s A6 premium range saloon were, like its competitors, suffering from a declining market. The S6 performance version was a victim of the situation and, yet, even today its specification is mouth-watering to say the least. Because filling the engine bay was a 5 204 cc, direct injection, high-compression (12,5:1) all-alloy V10 engine with twin-cams per bank operating four valves per cylinder with the aid of continuously variable valve timing. The result? Peak power of 320 kW at a heady 6 800 r/min – red line at 7 000 – and a substantial 540 N.m of torque on tap between 3 000 and 4 000 r/min. And much of the engine’s make-up was shared with the Lamborghini Gallardo supercar…

Naturally, quattro all-wheel drive was standard, and this was one of the first Audis in which the basic front/rear bias was 40:60 rather than the system’s original 50:50 set-up. Transmission was a six-speed Tiptronic with Sport mode and manual override and paddle shifters behind the wheel. Electronic Stability Control and Anti-Slip Regulation were part of a comprehensive set of driver aids.

When the car was launched I was with CAR magazine and, along with the rest of the editorial test team, I came to appreciate and enjoy the car’s remarkable competence. Today, the S6 is no less appealing – although I banged my head on the roof climbing in, a reminder that these days I am far more used to driving less low-slung veteran, vintage and classic machinery. Quiet and refined, the comfort, convenience and ergonomics of the interior are a given, it is the driving experience that is key.

And this sleeper of a supersaloon does not disappoint. With just over 86 000 km on the odo, pottering around is still smooth and sophisticated. Having 500 N.m of torque available between 2 500 and 5 000 r/min, any squeeze on the accelerator elicits an instant response. Press on and select the sportier modes this two-tonne saloon really gets up and goes. When the car was launched in 2007, the CAR road test achieved a 0-100 km/h time of 5,63 seconds, a kilometre-sprint time of 24,71 seconds  and  60-120 km/h in less than five seconds, all of which for the time was very impressive. A limiter restricts top speed to 254 km/h.

As speed rises, the exhaust tone deepens gloriously, adding a perfect soundtrack to the drive. But while straight line performance is one thing, cornering can be another. Riding on 19-inch rubberware and with all-aluminium suspension, ride quality is firm yet comfortable enough to not clash with its executive persona. Audi’s quattro system is well-proven and this big car’s grip and overall dynamic capability are simply amazing.

The Audi S6 V10 was not quite as quick as the rival Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG and BMW M5 SMG – but with a launch retail price of R806 500, it significantly cost R128 500 less than the E63 and R147 000 less than the M5. My summing up of the car back in 2007 was “Not an instant rapport, but once you get the feel of it, a special experience”. The comments still hold true.