It damn near came to blows as two passionate WardsAuto editors argued amid a full staff meeting about Audi’s 3.0L supercharged V-6 and whether it deserved yet another Ward’s 10 Best Engines trophy.
They both were right, actually: One editor insisted the engine hasn’t been updated in several years while other auto makers have bombarded our offices with new and compelling technologies that deserve recognition.
The opposite side refused to boot the engine because no rivals have come along that can match the 3.0L’s silkiness, its lively tip-in, its daily drivability, its gratifying torque at every engine speed. In other words, it’s still a benchmark.
That’s the argument that won ultimately, propelling Audi’s TFSI V-6 to its fifth consecutive Ward’s 10 Best Engines win.
On their score sheets, editors describe it as “the best engine I’ve ever encountered,” “amazing,” “one of the best high-performance V-6s ever” and “so refined, with a wonderful exhaust note under heavy acceleration.” The 333-hp TFSI V-6 is as stealthy and lethal as an assassin’s bullet.
It revs so effortlessly and sounds so enticing, it’s hard to think of this engine excluded from the list, especially as V-8s have become less popular in luxury cars over the years. Audi has pegged its fortunes to this engine as two-thirds of its product lineup relies on it.
And with good reason. This versatile engine works equally well in small and sporty cars such as the S4 and S5 and in spacious, suave cruisers such as the A7 and A8 sedans, not to mention the SQ5 and Q7 utility vehicles. Volkswagen and Porsche use the engine in hybrid applications, too.
It’s also worth noting the well-equipped ’14 S5 quattro coupe (with 6-speed manual transmission) we evaluated in early November came with a $58,845 sticker price that was $8,000 less than the S5 we tested last year.
Only two other luxury gasoline engines could be counted among the TFSI’s competitive set this year: Cadillac’s 3.6L twin-turbo V-6 and BMW’s 3.0L N55 turbocharged inline-6.
They’re both engaging, but the Cadillac engine, while being crazy fast, is crazy expensive and of limited purpose. And the BMW engine, while being smooth, fuel-efficient and capable, is starting to fall behind the leaders in specific output.
Several WardsAuto editors approached 20 mpg (11.7 L/100 km) while driving 415 miles (668 km) in the S5, so maybe that’s the engine’s lone weakness. Audi promises updates are on the way, so fuel consumption most likely will be addressed.
A decade ago, starting in 2004, Audi strung together three consecutive Ward’s 10 Best Engines wins for its 4.2L DOHC V-8, which was considerably less efficient than the 3.0L TFSI V-6.
The arguments for and against that engine in 2006 and 2007 were just as raucous, but the V-8’s gas-guzzling nature ultimately forced it off the list, despite its many strengths.
Yes, Audi engines inspire us to take these fights to the extreme, to the mat when necessary.