In a year that saw Audi’s sales in Canada grow by almost 20 percent to over 24,000, it’s easy to point at the shiny new baubles in their lineup, the redesigned A3 and all-new Q3 exploding onto the market and representing the lion’s share of that growth, but it would never happen without stability from core models. The Q5 and A4 are sales leaders well into their product cycle without tailing off, but even the due-for-replacement Q7 has pulled its weight. Further down the depth chart we have the mid-sizers, the A6 sedan and A7 hatchback, chipping in a couple more thousand sales between the two of them and helping Audi firmly cement its place on the luxury sales podium, trailing only Mercedes-Benz (38K) and BMW (33K).

Sales of the A6 and A7 have remained steady, but the products themselves are a study in continual evolution, with further revisions in the pipeline for the 2016 model year. However, those models are not yet available, and the 2015 editions are still highly competitive by bringing Audi’s design, quality and character. In this mid-size segment, the E-Class dominates the sales charts, Audi falls a little short of BMW’s 5 Series, and Cadillac CTS sales have fallen off since the launch of the ATS and the latest generation’s move up in size and price. The Lexus GS, despite offering stellar dynamics and exceptional value in this segment, remains an afterthought in the Canadian market. Seems the higher the prices, the more the German brands hold sway.

For our part, we recently had a chance to experience a week in each of the performance-oriented S6 and S7, and having spent time in numerous competitors, it’s hard to believe, yet easy to understand why more people don’t end up in the Audis more often. Put simply, the Audis are bastions of quality and refinement, and are priced as such. While that level of quality is desirable, it’s all too easy to opt for the familiar, BMW and Mercedes-Benz having just that much longer a history and pedigree in the luxury market, especially when the level of quality is so high, and the advantages of the Audi are nuances of feel and function, while the others can boast of their own advantages in other more concrete areas.

As it is as good a starting point as any, we can start with those concrete areas. The Audi S6 and S7 are both powered by a 4.0L twin-turbocharged V8, making 420 hp from 5,500 to 6,400 rpm and 406 lb-ft of torque from 1,400 to 5,200 rpm. The BMW V8 out-powers the Audis, and both the BMW and Benz out-torque it by substantial sums. The Mercedes E 550 is lighter, while the 550i weighs only 55 kg more than the S6. You won’t be crying about off-the-line acceleration or highway passing power in any of these. 400+ lb-ft of torque will be pretty satisfying in anything short of a bulldozer. The S7’s 50 additional kg do nothing to diminish its surging if not quite explosive power.

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