Three cars sharing a platform is not unusual in VW Group-speak. However, the traditions of ‘S’ models in Audi’s upper echelons have meant either V8, or bi-turbo V6, engines with petrol power…never diesel. The fact that Audi, which has always endeavoured to be a technological tour de force, considers that diesel has a life expectancy beyond narrow-mindedness and fallacious government deceit is a huge feather in its Tyrolean hat.
Audi’s S models have always played a numbers game, so I toss these figures into that same hat: 333.7bhp and 522lbs ft of torque, from a 3.0-litre displacement V6 diesel engine; not bad for a start, but there is more. At 190kgs, this engine is light and optimised to reduce friction from all circulating elements. Now factor in a 48V, mild hybrid system, with a belt-driven alternator/starter, which allows the car to coast for up to 40s, with the combustion engine deactivated and helps to reduce CO2 emissions. The diesel S models blitz the 0-60mph sprint in around 4.7s, before scorching to a restricted top speed of 155mph. Finally, on the figures front, no previous S model has managed a WLTP fuel consumption of around 36.2mpg, with a posted CO2 emissions level of 162g/km. It is impressive.
Central to this run of technological advancements is an electric supercharger that provides lag-free power across all driving demands. Boasting a spool-up time of less than 250m/s to a maximum of 70,000rpm, it works in tandem with the more conventional exhaust turbocharger, the engine’s maximum pulling potency arriving at a mere 2,500rpm; it is gutsy but not greedy to say the least. Matched to an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission and quattro all-wheel drive, which has a 60:40 rearward bias in stock mode but allows variation according to terrain and driver demands, these Audi S models can think their way safely and intuitively out of awkward handling moments, aided by active rear wheel steering.
The three models feature active air suspension, with up to five selectable modes and additional ‘lift’ for speed humps and so on, with an up to 20mm reduction in ride height for more sporting endeavours that also improves airflow at higher cruising speeds. Of course, while much of the above relates to ‘go’, the S models need to stop too and, while the standard system is efficient, the optional ceramic brakes, with 6-pot front callipers and enormous 400mm front discs and 370mm rears reduce unsprung weight, further enhancing the dynamic package.
While previous S models have been good handlers, the latest iterations are vastly improved, thanks to all-aluminium suspension construction and can now be described fairly as agile and fluidic. Naturally, the interiors are to the customary high Audi standards and equipment levels are suitably impressive, with boot space ranging from 530-litres (S6) to 1,390-litres (S7) and 1,680-litres (Avant).