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.