First Look: 2013 Audi S6, S7, S8 – Review and Test Drive
Audi S cars are a line of high-performance sport luxury vehicles that traditionally include unique engines, transmissions, suspensions, trim, and exterior design to set them apart from their less-powerful counterparts. The first S car was the S2 Coupé, which debuted in 1990. Since then, Audi has produced numerous S models, all recognizable by their S badges and more aggressive look.
Today, Audi offers S versions of many of its vehicles, including the S4 quattro and S5 quattro as well as the SQ5 sport utility vehicle, which was unveiled in January at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Also included in the lineup are the S6, S7, and S8 sedans, which I recently had a chance to compare side-by-side.
THE 2013 AUDI S CAR LINEUP
For 2013, the Ingolstadt-based automaker is seeking to reposition its lineup of high-performance S models for broader market appeal, maintaining them as upgrades from their A model counterparts while reserving even greater exclusivity for the marque’s highest-performance RS models.
The S cars will continue to be distinguished from Audi’s lesser A cars by bigger engines, more sophisticated suspensions and transmissions, and more luxurious interiors. Better fuel economy and lower pricing versus competitive vehicles from BMW and Mercedes-Benz are also part of the strategy Anthony Foulk, Audi of America’s product manager for the S6, S7, and S8, told Frequent Business Traveler.
Foulk pointed out that no new S model is subject to the U.S. gas-guzzler tax on fuel hogs despite the more than ample horsepower; the new S6 pricing in particular starts at a $4,000 lower price than did its 2012 predecessor.
However, none of this is to say that Audi has developed or priced its 2013 S models for the mass market. Indeed, the pricing strategy reflects the premium positioning Audi has in mind. The S6 starts at $72,795 and the S7 starts at $79,695, while the S8 starts at $110,895. Moreover, although all three do share some important parts, the distinctly higher price of the S8 calls attention to its markedly superior technical specifications and higher level of luxury (differences the time I spent behind the wheel also confirmed).
INSIDE THE 2013 AUDI S6, S7, AND S8
Like all S models, the S6, S7, and S8 have certain interior cues in common,
including (optional) carbon fiber trim, red decorative rings around the engine start/stop button, grey dials with white needles in the instrument cluster, and S model-specific logos on the seats, steering wheel, and illuminated door sills, as well as in the instrument cluster. Additionally, all three models feature aluminum pedals, foot rests, and shift paddles.
The S6 and S7 both feature one-piece “S sport” seats up front. The S8 features 22-way adjustable, ventilated, massaging seats up front. Diamond-pattern stitching adorns all the seats in the three models.
Leather and chrome adorn the gear selector lever in both the S6 and S7, but the S8 uses carbon fiber and aluminum instead.
Other interior flourishes in the S8 include an Alcantara headliner that matches the interior color and ambient lighting in a choice of three colors: red, bright white, and soft white.