From £79,4707
Disappointed that the Audi RS6 Avant has less power than its predecessor? The new 597bhp Performance version should sort that out

Our Verdict

Audi RS6 Avant

Performance behemoth sheds two cylinders. Is that progress for the mighty Audi RS6?

What is it?

Audi has a long, if not entirely illustrious, history of making estate cars fast enough to make your dog feel very queasy indeed. While the B7 RS4 Avant from a couple of generations ago was widely regarded as a high point for fast Audis, there have been far more misses than hits.

The RS6 Avant has long been the perfect example of how the German brand falls a little short of making a truly great performance car. While you can’t argue with the sheer amount of power on offer or the usability quattro brings, they’ve proved to be numb and often spine-shatteringly firm in the UK.

So what’s changed, then? Well, the RS6 Avant has received the Performance treatment that’s also available on the RS Q3. In the RS6, that ramps horsepower up from a potent 552bhp to a supercar-worrying 597bhp. Torque is normally 516Ib ft, but the Performance pack adds an overboost function that briefly increases this to 553Ib ft.

Furthermore, we’ve finally got our hands on a car running the standard air suspension set-up. Considering how uncomfortable the optional steel springs made things, the RS6 Avant could finally come good here.

What's it like?

Despite weighing more than two tonnes and being capable of moving the entire contents of your typical bedsit in one hit, the RS6 Performance is explosively fast. There’s no launch control, yet it still fires you away from a standstill with an addictive savagery. The bellowing V8 makes a fitting soundtrack, too.

Audi claims 0-62mph in 3.7sec, while our experience – and timing gear when strapped to the standard RS6 – suggests that it’ll reel off 0-100mph in comfortably less than nine seconds. On the road, you really can’t keep your foot buried for very long at all before you’ll fear for your licence.

What really impresses is how usable this performance is. In the dry and on asphalt that isn’t too craggy, it barely wastes a single horsepower even when you’re being brutal with your throttle application. In the wet, you do see the traction control light flicker more regularly, but it’s nowhere near as lairy as a Mercedes-AMG E 63 estate.

That, unsurprisingly, means it’s nowhere near as playful as the big Mercedes, either. There may be a sports differential out back and a rearward bias to the torque split, but you still won’t be drifting the RS6 Avant.

Understeer dominates the experience; even stamping on the throttle in the wet with steering lock on will give you, at most, a twitch of the rear. After that, the driveline fires the torque to the front axle to drag you out of the slide as quickly as possible.

The air springs are a definite improvement over the conventional coils, though. There’s precious little roll when pushing on, yet the car still copes admirably with the kind of British B-road that traditionally unravelled RS6s. It’s still firm, but the car seems to move with the surface instead of trying to flatten it like a turbocharged road roller.

One area that we always felt needed attention was the steering; despite this, there have been no changes to the electromechanical system. If there’s any feel at all, we certainly didn’t find it, leaving you guessing as to what the front wheels are doing. It may be accurate, but it just doesn’t involve you like the best performance cars.

More impressive is the eight-speed automatic gearbox, which is capable of swift shifts when you’re trying to embarrass exotica but proves delightfully smooth under normal use. There are paddles for you to take manual control, but there is sometimes a delay between you selecting a gear and the gearbox actually delivering it.

Of course, it’s not just the driving experience that might tempt you into the RS6. While it has one of Audi’s older interiors, it’s still a great place to sit. Material quality is excellent and it looks good in a sober, Germanic way. Rear space is more than adequate for all but the tallest of adults and the load bay is huge.

Should I buy one?

We can certainly understand why someone might opt for an RS6 Avant Performance. For a start, there’s no other standard estate that’s faster, yet it’s still capable of being driven briskly in any weather conditions. As an everyday car for effortlessly crossing country, it’s very impressive.

The problem is that the best performance cars are more than just impressive. They should connect and engage with you; they should be the kind of car you look longingly at and desperately think of excuses to drive. This is something the RS6 has never been able to do. This model changes nothing in that respect.

Are we missing the point, though? There is the argument that the person that can spend £86,000 on a fast estate and then deal with the running costs probably doesn’t have this as an only car. If you already own a wheeled adrenalin pump and just want the quickest and easiest way to cart five people and all their luggage from point A to point B, the RS6 Avant Performance fills that role perfectly.

2016 Audi RS6 Avant Performance

Location Bedfordshire; On sale Now; Price £86,000; Engine V8, 3993cc, twin-turbo, petrol; Power 597bhp at 6100-6800rpm; Torque 516lb ft at 1750-6000rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic; Kerb weight 2025kg; Top speed 155mph; 0-62mph 3.7sec; Economy 29.4mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 223g/km, 37%

Join the debate

Comments
11

20 April 2016
Had to get half way through before it reared its Autocar gripe - the steering. This is just unreal. I am not saying it could not be improved by VAG but really you overdo it - having driven this recently in St Petersburg (friend swapped his X6 for it because I threatened to stop talking to him till he got shot of the X6)and suburbs - I didnt find this to be any more issue than the Merc AMG is at the other end of the scale being too heavy for my taste. Of the two Audi still wins it by many margins

what's life without imagination

20 April 2016
...that's all it is. I have a 2014 E63 S Estate which I really like (obviously rwd), tried the RS6 and really liked that, too. Different for sure, but better, worse...almost impossible to say. I could live with either, but maybe I'm just not discerning enough.

20 April 2016
...that's all it is. I have a 2014 E63 S Estate which I really like (obviously rwd), tried the RS6 and really liked that, too. Different for sure, but better, worse...almost impossible to say. I could live with either, but maybe I'm just not discerning enough.

20 April 2016
One for the lottery win, yes please. I think Autocar slightly miss the point and the final paragraph sums up why people run these cars. UK sales hover around 1,000 which is impressive considering what they cost (and lose). Another car where sales and desirability far outstrip their magazine rating.


21 April 2016
I suspect many of these are purchased on how it looks, I know this is subjective but for me it looks very nice. If it was just on performance then there are other options. If it was just sold on being fast and very practical then same applies. I guess many just like the way it looks and if that floats your boat then why not. Win for Audi and their lucky owners.

 Offence can only be taken not given- so give it back!

21 April 2016
"They should connect and engage with you; they should be the kind of car you look longingly at and desperately think of excuses to drive. This is something the RS6 has never been able to do. "

Ah... it doesn't have "that something"... And I'm sure Jaguar XF-R will have "that something" and deserve the 5 star rating. Meanwhile, it will be behind in all measurable categories.

21 April 2016
Autocar are right - generally Audis from the A4 up are feel less, involving, understeery, hard riding cars that dont connect with the driver, thats just the way it is.

21 April 2016
Lol, I meant "uninvolving" why did they remove the edit feature ?

22 April 2016
Yes, Autocar are correct. Apart my 2006 RS4, every single Audi I have driven or experienced has given far too much of the wrong sort of feeling, and far too little of right.

22 April 2016
Yes, Autocar are correct. Apart my 2006 RS4, every single Audi I have driven or experienced has given far too much of the wrong sort of feeling, and far too little of right.

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Citroën C3 Aircross
    First Drive
    17 October 2017
    It's got funky looks and a charming interior, but it's another small SUV, and another dynamic miss. Numb steering is just one thing keeping it from class best
  • Skoda-Karoq 2.0 TDI 4x4
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Diesel version of Skoda’s junior SUV is unobtrusive and undemanding, but we’d still go for the silkier petrol version of the Karoq
  • Audi Q7 e-tron
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Expensive and flawed but this understated diesel-electric Audi Q7 has a lot to offer
  • Citroën C3
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Is the third gen Citroën C3 ‘fresh and different’ enough to take on its supermini rivals? We spend six months with one to find out
  • BMW X3
    First Drive
    15 October 2017
    A satisfying rework of the X3 that usefully improves its handling, cabin finish, space and connectivity to make this BMW a class front-runner again