8

Engine options, top speed, acceleration and refinement

There was already a richness and an aggression to the way this deep, growling V8 sang its tune, but compared with the more expressive V8 of the Mercedes-AMG E63 and, to a lesser extent, that of the BMW M5, the Audi’s engine just sounded a bit restrained.

But with the introduction of the Performance edition and resultant beefier turbochargers, Audi has not only turned up the outputs of the car’s twin-turbocharged V8, but it has also cultivated the appeal of its audible character. 

The V8 is now a little freer-revving than the original car, so you’re much more likely to notice the way it sounds. Audi has removed just enough noise insulation to allow greater combustion noise into the cabin, to blend with the V8 exhaust note. There’s that bit more authentic audible character about the engine when it’s hauling hard as a result. It isn’t louder than a standard RS6, just a bit less artificial-sounding and more listenable. It’s a welcome development.

On summer tyres and a dry track, the Audi’s appetite for speed is even more voracious than its need for fuel. The RS6 lunges off the line with incredible ferocity, although it takes a couple of runs and a bit of heat in the tyres to launch it completely cleanly.

Initially, the rearward weight transfer as the car springs forward can make the front wheels momentarily scrabble for purchase, but from there on out, the rate at which the Audi accrues pace is nothing short of incredible for a car of its size. Excessive? Probably. Unnecessary? Without question. But, above all else, utterly spectacular.

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The eight-speed gearbox is well mannered. Aside from a slight tendency to shunt a bit at step-off, it changes gears swiftly and smoothly when up and running. The carbon-ceramic brakes, meanwhile, can be a bit grabby at low speed, but their power and robustness when you really need them is unquestionable, as our braking test results clearly show.