What is it?
The new Audi RS6: lighter, quicker, bigger, cleaner and more economical than it was before. But not more powerful. Where once there was a 572bhp 5.0-litre V10, there is now a twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 developing 553bhp.
Given the flagship model’s normally brazen display of power, the slight backward step is a notable development — even if it does prove largely inconsequential given the hike in performance.
That, in real-world terms, is more typical of Audi’s progression. Thanks to the pair of twin-scroll turbochargers mounted within the engine’s ‘V’, torque has grown from 479lb ft to 516lb ft. Alongside a 90kg reduction in kerb weight (credited to increased use of lightweight materials) the RS6 now manages 62mph in a supercar-fast 3.9 seconds. That makes it, unsurprisingly, the quickest-accelerating estate car in the world.
Depending on how much you really want it, there’s also the potential to make it the fastest overall: two levels of the optional Dynamic pack push the electronically limited top speed first to 174mph, and then to 189mph. In the real-world, however, it should prove to be a more economical car. Cylinder deactivation, which turns the RS6 into a four-cylinder car when circumstance allow, help a claimed combined score of 28.8mpg.
Along with that technical first for the model comes another: adaptive air suspension is now the standard set-up, with stiffer steel springs relegated to the options list. Audi’s latest all-wheel-drive system uses a self-locking centre differential to split the available torque 40 per cent front, 60 per cent rear (and all the way up to 85 per cent to the rear if required), as well as left to right courtesy of a standard sport diff on the back axle.
The car arrives in the UK with an on-the-road price of £76,985, which is a marginal reduction on the sticker worn by its predecessor. Audi has also delivered an impressive 31 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions, although at 229g/km the RS6 just misses out on the VED boundary between expensive K and exorbitant L.