cars are sensible vehicles:
load-luggers, workhorses... Right?
No, not anymore, theyre not.
latest RS 6 quattro
Avant is cleared for take off
IN THE PAST WE'VE HAD SPORTS ESTATES AND SPORTS WAGONS but now a new
breed of supercars or should I say 572bhp super-estates are taking
on the likes of exotic two-door coupes, open sports cars and a very few high-performance
saloons. This is traditionally the territory of Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini,
Porsche and Pagani plus Audi, BMW and Mercedes with their RS, M and AMG sporting
And it is the premium German brands of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz who have
now taken the 'load- luggers' to impossible heights of desirability and performance.
Take the new Audi RS 6 quattro Avant estate not only is it the most powerful
pro-duction Audi ever (572bhp from its 5.0-litre, V10 twin-turboed petrol engine),
it is more powerful than the BMW M5 Touring which has a 'mere' 500bhp and the
Mercedes E63 AMG Estate, which has 507bhp. When it comes to torque or
grunt it's the same story:
Audi 479lb ft, M5 384lb ft E63 and E63 AMG 464lb ft. So, Avant-age Audi!
When it comes to 'how fast', all three are restricted to a politically-correct
155mph. As for 0-62mph acceleration times, the 2.1-tonne RS 6 Avant takes 4.6
seconds (the same as the C63 AMG Estate); the M5 Touring 4.7 seconds. Fuel economy
is marginally better for the RS 6 (at 20.2mpg combined), CO2 emissions are also
the lowest from the Audi (at 333g/km) but, as you might expect at this level,
they are all in the top road tax bracket
at £400 this year but rising. As for London Congestion Charges and company car
tax penalties, if a customer can afford close to £80,000 to order and buy any
of these cars these issues will not concern the buyer and neither will the escalating
cost of fuel.
The RS 6 quattro Avant is priced from £77,730 and the good news is that deliveries
start to UK customers on 24 May. As always with Audi supercars, the bad news
is that there's a waiting list of about a year.
Around 600 RS 6 vehicles will be available this year and 80 per cent of that
total will be Avant estate versions. The RS 6 quattro Saloon joins the line-up
Audi UK said at last week's media launch that money and running costs are not
issues for customers buying this type of supercar. They tend to have several
cars, so being 'wait-listed' is not a problem for them. The customers will tend
to be retail buyers but they are senior executives in business, company owners,
sports men and women. Audi UK also said that the Avant estate will be far more
popular than the RS 6 Saloon because of its 'grand tourer' design. With its
1,660-litres maximum luggage carrying space, it is also more useable and practical
than the Saloon.
True to Audi tradition, the front-end form of the new RS 6 quattro Avant follows
function over the design used for the standard A6 models. The high-performance
engine and the two turbochargers need a considerable amount of air to breathe,
as well as for cooling, which is why the intake apertures at the front have
been enlarged. Arched struts form the surround and the front apron has been
restyled. The single-frame grille featuring a high-gloss black guard with six-cornered
diamond-look styling and a red and silver RS 6 logo serves to emphasize that
this vehicle belongs to Audi's high-performance family.
To create space in the front apron for additional air flow, the halogen fog
lights have been integrated alongside the xenon headlights which incorporate
adaptive cornering lighting. The Audi signature strips of ten LED daytime running
lights at the edge of each headlamp unit add a distinctive touch.
The profile is characterized by the accentuated, wide side sills and hugely
flared wheel arches. Like the bonnet, the front wings are made of aluminum in
order to reduce weight.
The rear-end incorporates a mean-looking racing-style diffuser with large oval
tailpipes integrated into it. A subtle roof spoiler, which accommodates the
third brake light, provides the finishing aerodynamic touch. The tail lights,
too, incorporate LED technology.
Externaly, the Audi RS 6 quattro Avant measures 4,928mm in length, 1,889mm in
width, 1,468mm in height and has a wheelbase of 2,846mm. Internally, the cabin
of the new RS 6 quattro Avant is best described as 'crafted' with the usual
impeccable Audi quality. Generous amounts of carbon-fibre, aluminum, leather
and Alcantara create a luxurious yet sporting feel. Climate control, power windows
and mirrors, cruise control, SatNav, leather upholstery, reversing sensors,
etc, are all standard.
The RS multifunction sports steering wheel has a flat-bottomed design reminiscent
of the steering wheels used in motor racing. It incorporates controls for operating
the telephone, navigation system and audio system. Shift paddles for the tiptronic
transmission allow rapid manual shifting, and an RS 6 emblem on the lower spoke
adds a distinctive visual touch.
The clearly laid out and easily readable instrument cluster features a turbocharger
boost pressure indicator, an oil temperature gauge and a lap timer, all of which
can be accessed via the driver information system.
The highly-contoured sport seats provide the best possible support they
need to, given the acceleration and cornering forces this all-wheel drive super-estate
can provide. They can be electrically set to precisely the desired position
and feature an integrated head restraint plus a manually adjustable thigh support.
The RS 6 Avant offers generous space for five people and their luggage. In its
normal configuration, the luggage compartment has a capacity of 565 litres;
with the rear back-rest folded down, the volume increases to an impressive 1,660
litres although the rear seats do not, unfortunately, fold completely flat.
A load-through hatch, roll-up cover blind, luggage net, rail system and a twin
loading floor with integrated dirt-resistant liner are all included as standard
And so on to the performance... It is the torque (479lb ft from 1,500-6,250rpm)
that sets this car apart from the competition. Due to the RS 6 Avant's hefty
weight and potentially power-sapping quattro all-wheel drive system, it needs
all that grunt to get it moving rapidly but rapid is exactly how it goes.
The six-speed automatic transmission has the usual normal, sport and manual
modes and the suspension settings, too, can be adjusted to Comfort, Dynamic
and Sports modes. To be honest, the ride is better and more controlled in Comfort
There is, of course, an electronic stability programme, traction control and
differential lock to keep the huge amounts of power and torque relatively under
control but these in no way dampen the RS 6's supreme abilities. The engine's
power surge is huge, response is instant, and the car, quite literally, leaps
forward. This latest quattro system is split 40:60 with 40 per cent of the drive
going to the front wheels and 60 per cent to the rear. This rear-end bias gives
it stability under hard acceleration and optimum directional drive out of corners.
For such a huge and heavy car, the performance is nothing less than remarkable.
And the fuel consumption? I suppose it's rude to ask, but if you do then '20.2mpg
on average' is the official answer. In practice, 12.2mpg whilst hustling the
Avant around the fast sweeping roads in the South of France, with an average
of 14.6mpg when I took to cruising along at a more restrained pace. But this
is not something that will put off potential RS 6 owners.
Nor will the fact that it's already sold out this year and will be really expensive
to run. Ride comfort over poorer surfaces and heavy steering at very high speeds
are two other points wanna-be RS 6 owners will be prepared to bear in return
for the RS 6's undoubted plus points: it's truly desirable, awesomely fast and
has huge grip; it's also a versatile high-profile passenger and luggage carrier
of superb quality. And whether you want to class it as an estate, grand tourer
or large performance car, the RS 6 really is a genuine supercar. David
Audi RS 6 quattro Avant | £77,730
Maximum speed: 155mph | 0-62mph: 4.6 seconds
Overall test MPG: 14.6mpg | Power: 572bhp | Torque: 479lb ft
CO2 333g/km | VED Band G £400 | Insurance group 20