In the world of practical performance cars, there are few that do the job as well as the Audi RS6 Avant. Now in its fourth generation, the RS6 has dropped the understated act and gone for the full-bore aggressive look but I feel like the magic has been lost somewhere in between.
Audi’s fast RS wagons started out with the Porsche developed RS2. It was a discreet thing but one that gained plenty of respect because of the performance it could put down. Following in those illustrious footsteps was the RS4 and RS6. The latter was the one that undoubtedly carried the baton forward in true RS2 fashion. That’s all well and good but until recently there was a pleasant, understated ability to the RS6 but that’s gone out the window with the latest model as has their interior design department it would seem. The RS6 now has very heavily flared arches, massive wheels and just look at those front air vents. This is anything but understated and those earth-warming exhaust pipes will play you the same tune. To me, it has lost that power to surprise because you aren’t deceived by the looks anymore.
Probably the largest giveaway that this an RS6 comes in the form of those massive 22inch wheels. They are almost comically large on a wagon of this size but then they need to be when they house the kind of brakes that are needed to bring this large family wagon to a halt. A lot of the highlights around this car revolves around those signature wheels because to house them, the wheel arches need to be flared and the wheels themselves are pushed further outwards compared to the normal RS6. In fact, the RS badge adds substantial extra width to an already wide car. And the car is also lowered by a significant margin.
Enter the cabin and you will be surprised by focus on practicality here. Remember that the RS6 is still very much a performance machine but it is a wagon above all. The seats are covered in leather and are well bolstered but not quite to the level of making it uncomfortable, the pattern is Audi’s signature RS rhombus pattern. At least it’s a similar shape to a rhombus, I can’t be too sure as I am not a trignometrist. Onto more familiar shapes, the steering wheel is flat bottomed, or ‘D’ shaped as Dave likes to call it, wrapped in perforated leather and covered in buttons. This is a proper luxury car and so the soft touch theme continues across the dashboard and onto the doors where the plastics are very high quality. Being a performance model also means there’s alcantara on the doors, a little nod to Audi’s Italian relatives and their limitless use of the material.
The dashboard is similar in many ways to most Audis these days, something that does disappoint me as there’s no originality to it. The vents extend across the dashboard, there’s a backlit Quattro badge embedded into piano black plastic and then two touchscreens complete the look. While there isn’t much in the cabin that backs up the RS badge, all that has been reserved for the larger screen. Forget the other features, you want to be in the ‘car’ menu. It allows you to adjust the suspension, exhaust note, traction control etc. Audi’s latest RS mode button also features in this car, it makes use of a button on the steering wheel that allows you to shortcut to cutomised driving modes created by you. That’s very nice but I can’t help but feel that they have got it the wrong way around with the exterior being full RS while the interior styling is toned down.
Speaking of things that can be created by you, the driving experience is what this RS is all about and the RS6 offers a brilliant platform to start with. At the front is a 4 litre twin turbo V8 producing a mammoth 591 hp and 800 Nm of torque, probably enough to take your house on holiday with you. The trouble is that cars with such brutal power tend to struggle with putting it down to the road but the RS6 isn’t one of those cars. It’s Quattro system offers excellent weight distribution but also means that this heavy wagon can go from 0-100 in 3.6 seconds. Acceleration that will probably give your children nightmares not to forget that growling V8 noise. In typical Audi fashion, the grip is just sensational. It corners flat and the tyres make it stick like glue to the road. Surprisingly even with 22inch wheels, the ride is tolerable and the high quality of the cabin means that audible road noise is minimal.
As a performance machine, the RS6 is just sublime around corners and lightning fast in a straight line. As a practical wagon, there is space for five and plenty of storage as well. As an RS6, it just falls short of looking docile enough to give you a fright when you touch the accelerator. Audi is pushing its aggressive looks as a plus point but I have to disagree on that. To each their own as they say and while this RS6 is brilliant, it’s just playing the same game as the competition instead of going down the lone RS6 path. It has become the bandwagon.