The new Audi RS 6 Avant super-estate will take on the Mercedes-AMG E 63 S with a 4.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V8
Audi is marking its 25th anniversary of building high-performance estate cars by launching another. Just like original RS 2 of 1994, the new Audi RS 6 Avant takes the brand’s largest estate car, adds a more powerful engine, four-wheel drive and a mean exterior makeover.
The new range-topping Audi performance estate will get its first unveiling at a special Audi Sport Driver’s Club meeting on September 5, before heading to the Frankfurt Motor Show for its world debut. Its arrival will top off the already rather expansive Audi A6 Avant range, which has recently swelled to include a new Allroad version and a performance S6 model.
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While in previous years the S6 and RS 6 Avants have shared engines, the latest models break with that tradition. The S6 now packs a 344bhp 3.0-litre mild-hybrid diesel engine while the RS 6 uses one of Audi Sport’s 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol engines.
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Mated to an eight-speed tiptronic gearbox and Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system, the 592bhp V8 cracks 0-62mph in 3.6 seconds. Maximum torque stands at 800Nm –which is available between 2,100 and 4,500rpm – while the top speed is limited to 155mph. Audi is offering two performance packs for extra punch, however – the ‘Dynamic Package’ ramps the top speed up to 174mph while the ‘Dynamic Package Plus’ allows the five-seater estate car to top out at a supercar-rivaling 190mph.
The RS 6 does share the S6’s mild-hybrid set-up, however. The 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 is assisted by a 48-volt system that consists of a belt alternator starter and a small lithium-ion battery. Audi says up to 12kW of power can be saved during coasting between 34 and 99mph, and the RS 6 features cylinder-on-demand technology, too. When in a high gear and at low speeds, cylinders 2, 3, 5 and 8 are shut down allowing the car to travel along in four-cylinder mode.
As usual the RS 6 gets a full suite of modes in the Audi Drive Select system, which changes parameters like throttle and engine response, but there are also two new modes. ‘RS1’ tunes the steering, engine, suspension and the differential for more enthusiastic driving (along with different graphics for the Virtual Cockpit and optional head-up display), while ‘RS2’ turns off the ESC. Go for the (again, optional) sports exhaust system, the RS modes also change how the RS 6 sounds.
Air suspension comes as standard on the new RS 6. At speeds above 74mph the suspension is lowered by 10mm or, conversely, it can rise by 20mm at low speeds. Just like the top speed limiter, the suspension can be upgraded to the ‘RS sport suspension plus’ pack, which uses steel springs and three-stage adjustable dampers, allowing the RS 6 to corner more tightly. There’s progressive steering as standard, too, and again, when the ‘Dynamic Package’ and ‘Dynamic Package Plus’ option boxes are ticked, the steering is upgraded to include all four wheels.
To differentiate future RS models from S cars, Audi Sport is making them look far more aggressive than ever before and the RS 6 is one of the first to demonstrate this. The body is 40mm wider on either side and blistered arches cover standard-fit 21-inch alloys wheels.
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The RS 6 ditches the standard A6 Avant’s headlights and instead poaches the slimmer ones found on the A7, and like the rear light clusters, there’s an ‘RS-specific’ light sequence when the car is locked and unlocked – but only if you go for the optional RS Matrix LED laser lights. There’s also a new wider and flatter grille, a front bumper with massive air intakes and a new bonnet with a power bulge. In fact, only the roof, front doors and tailgate are carried over from the standard A6.
A pair of massive nappa leather and alcantara sports seats dominates the interior and the steering wheel gets aluminum gearshift paddles. ‘Audi Sport’ is beamed onto the pavement from the puddle lamps and the infotainment system gets an RS Monitor that gives temperature readings for the mechanical components and a g-meter. The RS 6 is just as spacious inside as the standard A6 Avant, but its boot is still over 100 litres smaller than a Mercedes-AMG E 63 S Estate’s.
It’s still a large car, though and one that can be personalised in typical Audi fashion. There’s a 13-strong colour palette, including two unique shades and five matt effect finishes, and there’s also a black pack for the exterior trim and the Audi four-rings badges. The RS 6 will be arriving in the UK early next year, with prices and specifications announced nearer the time.
What does the new Audi RS 6 Avant have to beat? Click here for our list of the best fast family cars currently on sale…