* Clearly, Audi doesn't expect to sell the S6 to track junkies or performance snobs. This is a sport luxury sedan. But the big V10 will move the car at alarming speeds, while making glorious noises. In parking garages, I select manual mode just to hear the thing burble along at 2500 rpm in first gear. Hit a freeway on-ramp and the exhaust bellows like a racing boat. There is no drama, the Quattro all-wheel-drive system simply transmits all torque directly to the pavement. Off the line, this thing doesn't just launch, it folds the space/time fabric of the universe.
The handling holds no surprises from a car with such considerable mass. Although grip levels are amazing, it doesn't change direction as rapidly as one would like. The steering is light for my tastes, but it fits the car's luxury brief.
The only real downside is the transmission. It never really seems to do the ideal thing. In normal drive mode, it shifts way too often. The shifts are fast and clean, but it is frustrating to wait for three downshifts when trying to accelerate. In sport mode, it almost holds the gear too long. And driving along the freeway in fourth with a six-speeder just doesn't work for me.
The interior is almost perfect. Some might complain about a stodgy dash, but I think it works just fine. I want to look at what's outside the glass, not inside. Passengers are held tightly in place by sport seats that make a living room recliner feel like a folding chair. From the outside, the car is an archetypal German sleeper. I would like to see something more obviously aggressive for an S version, but I guess it gives us something to look forward to with a possible RS6.-Michael Febbo
From The Hip
+ Killer exhaust note, extreme comfort- A little too big to be truly sporty
2007 AUDI S6
Longitudinal front engine, all-wheel drive
5.2-liter V10, dohc, 40-valve
Peak Power: 435 bhp @ 6800 rpmPeak Torque: 398 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm0-60 mph: 5.1 sec.Top Speed: 155 mph (limited)Fuel Economy: 21 hwy/15 city
Price as Tested: $79,070
2007 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMGWarp speed and three rows of seats*This much power is silly in a wagon. So the cynics will say. But AMG's evolution from the E55 makes that a boring argument. With a 6.2-liter naturally-aspirated V8, the new E63 AMG High Performance Wagon no longer socializes with the SUVs and minivans of the world. It's a sports car with the added ability to carry around spectators. The only thing to worry about is remembering how much car is at the rear while you blow by everyone around you.
With 507 bhp and a redline of 7200 rpm, it's easy to forget you're even driving a wagon. Most people who want or need this kind of space don't usually know what it's like to accelerate into an instantaneous facelift. They don't usually see the ground blur to 100 mph in 9.5 seconds. But just because it outperforms all other wagons doesn't mean it's lost its roots. There's still the optional third row seat, reminiscent of the station wagons of old, so the kids can wave goodbye as you pull smoothly through the E63's seven gears.
Or there's a sport 'manual' mode with paddles on the steering wheel, an interesting option but hardly engaging for true manual shifting. With an engine like this, you want to feel it work. Kick everyone out, try manual mode with traction control off, see the fun factor increase. Alas, comfort and convenience are a priority in a model such as this. It may be enough to know what kind of power is going on here, but it's better to work with it. Still, if you need the space only a wagon provides, the E63 Wagon steps up to the plate. -Amanda Savercool
From The Hip
+ Massive power, massive torque, it's a wagon- Pricey, pricey, pricey
2007 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG
Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive
6.2-liter V8, dohc, 32-valve
Peak Power: 507 bhp @ 6800 rpmPeak Torque: 465 lb-ft @ 5200 rpm0-60 mph: 4.3 sec.Top Speed: 155 mph (limited)Fuel Economy: 20 hwy/14 city
Price as Tested: $93,660