What is it?
This is the latest version of the Audi Sport flagship, a car that over the years has become the default daily driver for the extremely well-heeled in a hurry.
These owners tend to have barns filled to the rafters with exotics, but they tend to choose the Audi RS6 Avant for everyday duties, with the fast four-wheel-drive estate delivering just the right balance of down-the-road dynamism and discretion. We’ve already driven it in the US (where it's available for the first time after nearly 20 years), but now it’s time to find out how it fares in the UK.
While previous generations were as much about subtlety as speed, this latest one struggles to blend in. At the front is a vast, gaping grille that's flanked either side by large vents clearly influenced by basking sharks at feeding time, while the trademark wheel arch blisters increase width by 80mm over the standard A6 Avant (only the front doors, roof and tailgate are carried over). There are also LED headlights that do a natty ‘look at me’ strobe when you unlock the car, plus a pair of huge oval tailpipes.
Our test car’s arresting visuals were further enhanced by its Nardo Grey paint and gargantuan 22in alloys, which amazingly seem only just big enough to cover the optional carbon-ceramic brake discs (one of many extras that took our car’s total price to almost £135,000 – yikes!).
Still, an increase in stopping power is fairly welcome when you consider the RS6 packs a 591bhp version of the now-familiar twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8. This churns out 590lb ft, which is enough to pull up several stumps, and is mated to a Tiptronic eight-speed automatic gearbox. All four wheels are driven through a Torsen four-wheel drive system that can shuffle up to 85% of the engine’s effort to the rear axle, where it's distributed through a torque-vectoring Sport differential.
Standard on all UK cars is Dynamic All-Wheel Steering, wherein the rear wheels turn the opposite way to the front wheels at low speed and the same way as you start to travel more quickly. Also fitted is air suspension that's 20mm lower than that of the standard A6 and can lowered by a further 10mm above 74mph. However, our car was fitted with RS Sports Suspension Plus, which ditches the air springs in favour of traditional coil items and adds interconnected adaptive dampers, known as Dynamic Ride Control. Our car also had winter tyres, so any true handling impressions need to be caveated against this.
Of course, you can’t just launch a near-two-tonne, 600bhp estate car on the world these days without considering its environmental impact. As a result, the RS6 has all the latest measures to boost efficiency, including cylinder-on-demand and a 48V starter-generator that allows engine-off coasting for up to 40sec, plus the ability to shut down the engine below 13mph as you’re slowing for traffic lights.
The rest of the RS6 will be fairly familiar to A6 drivers. For instance, the interior is beautifully finished and packed with wall-to-wall touchscreen and TFT displays - the latter with a bespoke, race car-style bar graph rev counter when one of the RS modes is engaged. It’s spacious, too, although the 565-litre boot is shaded for capacity by that of the cavernous Mercedes-AMG E63 S Estate.