There are quite plainly some notions of wider Volkswagen Group performance car hierarchy to which the new RS6 is wonderfully immune.
The car’s 3996cc V8 replaces the 3993cc unit that was co-developed with Bentley and first used in 2011. It’s the same mill you’ll find in a current Bentley Continental GT, Bentayga V8, Porsche Panamera GTS and Porsche Cayenne Turbo.
In the RS6, however, the twin-turbocharged lump (now with a perfectly ‘square’ cylinder bore/ stroke ratio; the last version’s V8 was slightly long-stroke) is allowed to develop more power and torque than in any of those other applications: fully 591bhp, and 590lb ft over a near-2500rpm spread of mid-range revs. The related RS7 Sportback is no more potent and neither is the new RS Q8 super-SUV. Within wider VW Group circles, only the madcap Lamborghini Urus uses the same motor to more spectacular effect, along with Porsche’s Turbo S E-Hybrid models (in which outputs are, of course, electrically assisted).
Ironically enough, the motor does have some hybridisation here as well. A 48V electrical architecture and starter/generator allow the engine to ‘harvest’ power at up to 12kW under regenerative braking and also mean the RS6 can coast at cruising speed in an ‘ignition-off’ state for periods of up to 40 seconds. It retains cylinder deactivation technology as well and all of that means the car tops 30mpg on the extra-urban test cycle of the outgoing ‘NEDC equivalent’ fuel economy lab test.