How the 2013 Audi S6 Hits 0-60 MPH in 3.7 Seconds

30 05 2012

The term “sleeper” used to be quite prevalent in the automotive industry, to describe a car that packed surprising performance underneath a pedestrian exterior design.

But the term has basically been phased out altogether, because modern day high performance cars are easier than ever to spot. In the luxury sedan market, one glance makes it pretty clear that the BMW M5 orMercedes-Benz E63 AMG pack a pretty mean punch. A car with a monstrous 556 horsepower V8 like the Cadillac CTS-V would make the perfect modern day sleeper, but with those 19-inch wheels and bulging hood, it isn’t fooling anybody.

The 2013 Audi S6 boasts its fair share of sporty design features, but looks downright conservative compared to the other three. It even produces the lowest horsepower figure out of the four – by far – making 420 hp from a 4.0L twin-turbo V8.

Which is why the new Audi S6 became the ultimate sleeper car when Car And Driver got ahold of one, laying down a 0-60 mph sprint in just 3.7 seconds that sent the entire Internet into a collective, “Eh… scusi?

Short of being dropped from an airplane, how could a 4,200-lb. sedan possibly reach 60 mph in less than four seconds? Audi themselves hadn’t even predicted a run like that, pegging performance at a spritely 4.8 seconds. But the sub-four second run catapults the S6 into supercar territory, and makes its twin-turbo V8 engine certainly worthy of a closer look.

The 4.0L TFSI V8, codenamed the EA824 within Audi, is an extremely versatile powerplant that can be found making 520 hp in the Audi S8 or 500 hp in the Bentley Continental GT. In the brand new S6, its 420 horsepower is actually a step down from the previous generation S6, which used a sonorous but thirsty 435 hp 5.2L V10. Even with the extra heft and grunt, that previous-gen S6 could only pull off 0-60 mph in 5.2 seconds. So here’s how Audi managed to drop 15 horsepower and 1.5 seconds.

While the AE824 lost 15 horsepower, it gained torque, from 398 lb.-ft in the 2007 S6 to 406 lb.-ft in the 2013 S6. Torque is what provides most of the initial lurch, and not only is there more of it in the 2013 Audi S6, but it’s also much more readily available. Peak torque is available from 1,400-5,300 rpm, meaning that the S6 can produce full strength very quickly and sustain it through the power band. That power comes even quicker when Launch Control is activated, as it was during the 3.7 second run.

Equally as important as the power is the 2013 Audi S6 diet, which should be published and shelved in Self Help sections across the country. The 2007 S6 weighed a whopping 4,528 lbs., heavy even for a mid-sized luxury sedan. By contrast, the 2013 S6 has dropped nearly 300 lbs. and checks in at a respectable 4,255. Audi has made much of its patented ultra weight-savings technology and put it to full use in the S6, which has a steel frame but mostly aluminum body panels. In fact, 20% of the entire S6 is made of aluminum.

Not everyone will be taking the S6 on mountain runs every morning, and the AE824 is more versatile than that. It’s quite civilized, in fact, returning an estimated 17/26 mpg, a 25% reduction over the previous-gen S6.

Compare that to 19/28 in its A6 little brother with a 3.0L supercharged V6, or 25/33 in the base A6 with a 2.0L V6. Yes, the A6 will produce slightly better efficiency than the S6, but enough to make you forget about that 0-60 run in 3.7 seconds? Didn’t think so.

Weight is a big factor again when it comes to fuel efficiency, but the S6 employs a couple of other tricks as well. Using a twin-turbo with direct injection certainly helps, though the S6 does not have the Variable Valve Timing available in the A6. What it does employ is Audi’s new Cylinder On Demand system, which shuts off four of the eight cylinders when they aren’t necessary under part load.

Audi may also make Start/Stop technology available on the S6 in the future, but likely not when the car launches in the U.S. this October.

Sure, the Audi S6 has a reputation for performance, and the $71,000 base price is hardly inconspicuous. But no one, not even Audi, could have predicted the 3.7 second 0-60 run that marks the 2013 S6 as the first true sleeper car in maybe a decade, thanks largely to that torque-happy 4.0L TFSI V8 engine. Don’t sleep on it.

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