First Look: 2012 Audi S6, S7, and S8

In the past year, Audi has introduced all-new versions of its flagship A8 and midsize A6 sedans, as well as slotting the stylish A7 Sportback between the two. Ingolstadt is ready to crank up the trio's sportiness with the debut of the 2012 Audi S6, S7, and S8, which debut at this year's Frankfurt Motor Show.

S models continue to pack more power than their standard counterparts, but don't expect massive ten-cylinder engines to fill the engine compartment. All three model lines now use a new twin-turbocharged, direct-injection 4.0-liter V-8, albeit in two different forms. For the 2012 Audi S6 and S7, the engine is tuned to produce 420 hp and 406 lb-ft, which is on par with the outgoing 5.2-liter V-10. Mated with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, the S6 should move from 0-62 mph in 4.8 seconds, and the S7 in 4.9. Top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph, but more impressively, fuel economy will purportedly come in at a combined 24 mpg during EPA testing.

The 2012 Audi S8 uses the same engine, but adds a bit more power. Audi rates the 4.0 TFSI at 520 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque in S8 guise. A sprint to 62 mph takes only 4.2 seconds and the 4.0 TFSI will carry the S8 to an electronically limited 155 mph top speed. The transmission is a modified version of the eight-speed automatic found is the base A8. Thanks in part to the smaller engine and two extra gear ratios, Audi expects the S8 to average 23 mpg, embarrassing the old V-10's 13/19 mpg ratings.

All three of the 2012 Audi S models utilize "cylinder on demand" technology that shuts down four of the eight cylinders during highway driving to help save fuel. The S8 also pairs the cylinder deactivation with a start-stop system, which will shuts down the engine once the car comes to a stop. In the S6, an Active Noise Cancellation system (ANC) broadcasts an anti-phase sound into the cabin to decrease any intrusive sounds during four-cylinder cruising. We're more interested in the exhaust flaps that produce more impressive sound under heavy acceleration.

The S6, S7, and S8 also all use Audi's Quattro all-wheel drive system with a self-locking center differential and four-wheel torque vectoring system. A sport-tuned adaptive air suspension is standard, as are vented disc brakes with matte-black calipers. Carbon-ceramic discs -- identified by anthracite-colored calipers -- are optional and shave 11 lbs.

The usual raft of subtle S model upgrades grace the exteriors and interiors of the 2012 Audi S6, S7, and S8. Aluminum brightwork adorns the front and rear fascias, door handles, and window surrounds, and is complemented silver mirror caps and chrome-covered horizontal grille bars. Standard wheels on the S6 and S7 are five-spoke 19-inch aluminum alloys, with seven optional designs ranging in size from 19 to 20 inches. A platinum grey rear diffuser with a two-layer aluminum finish sits between two sets of twin oval exhaust tips on each car. The 2012 Audi S8 wears standard 20-inch wheels, but offers another 20-inch and three 21-inch designs as options. S badges grace the grilles and tailgates of all the cars, while front fenders are adorned with V8T badges.

Inside, S-specific grey dials with white needles sit behind a multifunction sport steering wheel on each of the cars, which include aluminum shift paddles. The rest of the cabin is decorated in brushed aluminum trim - carbon fiber; matte, fine grain ash brown wood, or layered Beaufort oak are optional - and pearl nappa leather is standard, mixed with alcantara in the S6 and S7 and quilted leather upholstery in the S8. Sport seats have been designed specifically for the new models. A red LED ring outlines the engine start button on all three cars to further emphasize the sporting nature of the new S6, S7, and S8.

We'll bring back more information on all three cars during our live coverage of the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, starting September 12th.

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