From £78,170
Audi’s 572bhp RS6 combines loads of space with unbelievable pace. The best RS yet.

Our Verdict

Audi RS6 Avant review
A new generation of RS6 - can it cut the mustard?

Performance behemoth sheds two cylinders. Is that progress for the mighty Audi RS6?

What is it?

Only the most powerful mass-produced estate car there has ever been, the new 572bhp Audi RS6 Avant.

It goes on sale in the UK on May 24. Audi UK expects to sell 600 a year, and the first 700 are already spoken for, so if you sign up for one today, it’ll be next May before Audi can deliver you one. Is it worth waiting for?

What’s it like?

Superlatives fall spectacularly short in describing the ‘rather surprising’ bald speed of this car.

Thankfully, having driven one in more familiar UK surroundings for the first time last week, we’re now in a position to give you a more real-world account of its point-to-point performance. So here goes.

On the rolling A- and B-roads of rural Northamptonshire it felt very, very rapid indeed, as well as agile and well-damped, and had great dynamic balance through corners. The last RS6 certainly wasn’t any of the above.

This one must also go from 0-30mph faster than almost any other two-tonner on the road. From a twin-turbo V10 and Quattro four-wheel drive, you expect a bit of transmission slip, if only in the spirit of mechanical preservation.

But after you select ‘S’ on the auto box’s lever and bury the throttle, you get almost no delay, full transmission lock-up in first gear, the merest scrabble from the rear tyres, and then a savage, driveshaft-worrying rush.

That big V10 revs all the way out to 6800rpm before the ‘box snatches another gear. Audi quotes 4.6 seconds to 62mph, but that could actually be a wet-weather benchmark; the RS6 feels every bit as fast as an R8 to 62mph, and much quicker beyond there. You’ll need nothing short of a Porsche 911 Turbo to beat it over a standing quarter-mile drag race.

As is becoming a recurring theme with RS Audis, bald speed isn’t all that this car is about. For starters, it steers accurately, fluently, and with well-judged control weight; the wheel’s nicely light at town and manoeuvring speeds, but quickly loads up on the open road. Its precision is what gives you the confidence to explore the far reaches of this car’s performance on an empty road.

The RS6 has also got razor-sharp throttle response, particularly for a proper auto. As described earlier, the excellent transmission allows you to deploy all of the engine’s power, even in first gear.

In Sports mode it holds a gear right to the redline, kicks down quicker than most, and locks up fully whenever you want it to. The paddleshift mode gives the driver even better control over gearshifts. Few automatic gearboxes are this finely-tuned for high performance – AMG take note.

The car’s got enormous traction too; though you expect as much from an RS Audi, the extent to which the new RS6 assaults the tarmac is still remarkable. You can give it full throttle, in first gear, away from a wet T-junction, and get nothing – no oversteer, no understeer, little wheelspin to speak of – except stultifying forward motion.

Perhaps most remarkably of all, this car can also be refined and easy-to-drive. When you’re not in the mood to wear the pattern off the A413 you can set the adaptive dampers to ‘Comfort’, leave the transmission in ‘D’, and just float around (try that in a BMW M5). The only thing that disturbs the calm is the occasional patter of its 20in wheels.

Should I buy one?

There should be no doubt: Quattro GmbH has just put forth its best RS yet, and whether you’re a fan of hot Audis or not, the new RS6 is a must-drive for any performance car lover with £80k to spend.

It’s not a car overawed by a monstrous engine: it’s actually one of the finest new fast cars you can buy right now, 1600-litre boot-and-all. Though its performance is more than a match for its rivals, it appeals in a different way to rear-driven super-saloons and –estates from Mercedes and BMW. The best way to get to the nub of that difference is like this.

Imagine the perfect corner on a circuit. It’s long, open, medium-fast, ever-so-slightly damp, and you can see all the way around it. Now, how do you imagine driving it? Go in at about eight-and-a-half tenths commitment, get on the gas a little early, and exit with a quarter-turn of opposite lock? Or go in fast, pound the apex into submission, pick up as much traction as possible on the way out, and then see what the next bend brings?

If you’re in camp a), the BMW M5 Touring is the firebrand wagon for you. But if you’re camp b), and you simply want an any-weather performance weapon that’ll cover ground as fast as a supercar, come what may – but four-up, and with a fortnight’s worth of luggage on board – well, you know what to do.

Join the debate

Comments
21

28 January 2008

Why no saloon version? not everyone wants an estate.

28 January 2008

Impressive as it is, if I needed the space I would definitely opt for the cheaper more understated RS4 Avant. From this report it sounds to me as though the RS6 wouldn't be any more engaging and faster it may be, the RS4 is plenty fast for any driver in the UK.

And the same might be said for the upcoming saloon version which may offer up to 70bhp more than its main rivals from Germany but will be hard-pressed to deliver that advantage anywhere other than on the autobahn. Again if I were in the market I would probably opt for the more focussed BMW M5.

28 January 2008

Two tons! That's even sillier than the power figure.

28 January 2008

Honestly, does a family/executive estate, even in sporting guise, really need to be not that far short of 600bhp? It's power is up by nearly 100bhp on the pervious model. Why I have to ask? Why didn't Audi instead focus on reducing its weight, to get better performance?

I hope the next BMW M5 doesn't continue to play the power game that Merc and Audi are clearly set on, and goes for the weight loss option.

30 January 2008

That is a ludicrous amount of money for an estate car - essentially a family load lugger - I don't care how good it is.

30 January 2008

As astounding as it is, is the RS6 the first sign of a performance version of a conventional saloon (well, estate in this case) gone too far? Or is the fact that there is difficulty in accepting a car like this that is approaching supercar levels of performance?

Perfomance execs, namely the the M5 and AMG E-Class, have traditonally had power outputs similar to junior supercars like 911 Turbos, F430s and their predecessors but Audi seems to have raised the bar to the next level by a huge margin. Perhaps this hand grenade of an engine (boosted to 600Bhp maybe!) should have appeared in a RS8 instead as we may be able to accept supercar rivalling performance in a luxury car.

God knows what a new RS4/RS5 would produce and i wouldn't bet against anything less than 500Bhp.

30 January 2008

I agree, the weight advantage of the RS4 is bound to result in a more nimble and rewarding drive. Equally M5 tourings are dropping below 60k now for 1 yr old with low miles, this is a £20k saving on the RS6

31 January 2008

I'm trading in my old RS6 for this but 75k is a wee bit steep to be honest. Most of the people who can afford this kind of money would rather roll around in a Range Rover. Which is more practical. Simply put, this aint a drug dealers car, and thats a big problem these days.

31 January 2008

When I read the First Drive article I died a little inside.

So to get this straight...

It weighs over 2 tonnes, has 572bhp, and can manage 0-60 in 4.6 seconds? Exsqueeze me? The old Plus managed a similar feat.

As an advocate of the old car and the Audi marque , I feel disappointed with this... monstrosity... that Audi have unveiled.

I hope they employ the Mazda philosophy soon.

P.S. £75,000? I'll take two BMWs thanks. I think a 335i and 335d should fit the bill nicely!

31 January 2008

Mmmmm, I don't know guys.

I live in southern Spain and trust me there is a certain type of customer who buy black Range Rovers and indeed black Q7s.

I have seen the back seat of a RS4 and owned slower A4s in the past. If you have a young family with two kids or more, an A6 rear cabin is far better esp when you have to fit various sizes of car seats etc...

I've currently got a 911 and can assure you I constently get burned up by fast audis on the toll road and to be frank am getting sick of it!! Also the kids can't fit in the back anymore!

To me the RS6 covers a lot of bases and yes it's not cheap but with the high Spec taken into account and the fact there are so many clever ways to fund high value/low depreciating cars, I've decided to give it a go and sent my deposit cheque off to Stirling Audi!! In my part of the world there isn't even one RS4 kicking about and I still love the "understatement" of the new car.

Did I mention there are no speed cameras here?

Safe driving,

Hombre

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • 2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron UK review
    First Drive
    29 September 2016
    First UK drive finds the facelifted A3 Sportback e-tron remains a first-rate plug-in hybrid that is packed with tech if a little short on driver appeal
  • Citroen C11.2 Puretech 82 Furio
    First Drive
    29 September 2016
    Citroën's city car gets a new sporty-looking trim level, adding visual adornments, but no premium for the 1.2-litre Puretech triple we're driving
  • Mercedes C350e Sport
    First Drive
    28 September 2016
    Petrol-electric C-Class is a surprisingly well-priced alternative to a diesel but not the greatest example of the new ‘PHEV’ breed
  • Car review
    23 September 2016
    Aston kicks off its ‘second century plan’ with an all-new turbo V12 grand tourer
  • Ford Ka+ 1.2 Ti-VCT 85
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    A rounded, refined and well-sorted bargain supermini – once you’re used to the confusing role redefinition imposed on the once-cheeky Ka