Ah, an Audi RS6. By definition a car interesting enough to set the Autocar-to-Mira test track hotline ringing, but not the unknown quantity it once was. RS Audis have become more consistent of late; have found their own character. 

No more the unexpected extremes of brilliance in the 2007 RS4, but neither the shocking brittleness of the 2004 RS6 Plus

Instead, the silver-mirrored performance benchmarks have adopted a more coherent theme: fast, undoubtedly, and with a minor reduction in their feeling of heft in the nose, while without ever seriously challenging for class honours in the markets in which they compete.

Until now? We’ll see. The hottest variant of Audi’s executive saloon arrives in the UK in Avant form only, about which we have no qualms at all because, ever since Volvo launched the 850 T5 wagon, quick estates have given us quite the giggle.

But Audi hasn’t been alone in enjoying fast big estates – you can’t get a Touring BMW M5, but every one of Audi’s other major rivals offers a car in this class. And some of them are very good.

Audi’s first flirtations with fast estates cropped up in the earily 1990s (the ’93-’96 RS2), but the first RS6 appeared in 2002. Powered by a twin-turbo 4.2 V8, it was fast in a straight line but not especially loveable. Neither, to be fair, was the replacement that appeared, after an RS6 absense of three years, the 2008-released sporting variant of the big wagon.

What did strike a chord, though, was the allure of a turbo V10 powerplant. The RS6 was fitted with a 5.0-litre V10 (mainly unrelated to the one in a Lamborghini Gallardo, contrary to popular belief) giving it a titanic 571bhp.

But this generation RS6 is downsized to use Audi's twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 powerplant, which is available in two states of tune - 552bhp for the standard car and 596bhp for the RS6 Performance. So power is not in question here, just whether Inglostadt has been able to instil some character into this super estate.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Audi range

Driven this week

  • Audi TTS 2018 first drive review hero front
    First Drive
    18 July 2018
    As talented as it’s always been, the TT covers every base as well as you would expect – even if it could be a little more exciting
  • Mazda 6 2018 first drive review hero front
    First Drive
    18 July 2018
    Refreshed saloon is much more convincing inside, but range-topping 2.5-litre petrol engine makes concessions not seen lower down the range
  • Skoda Octavia vRS diesel longterm review hero front
    First Drive
    18 July 2018
    We’ve just had a diesel vRS for three months. Next up: a petrol vRS for three months. Which makes the better buy?
  • Maserati Levante Gransport 2018 UK first drive review hero front
    First Drive
    17 July 2018
    Minor updates make a big impact on high-riding Levante's refinement, even if outright performance still falls shy of rivals
  • Suzuki Swift Sport 2018 long-term review hero front
    First Drive
    16 July 2018
    The Japanese hot hatch is all grown up in terms of character, technology and price, but is it still a fun-loving kid at heart? Let’s find out