say that Eskimos have 40-odd words to describe snow. Get behind
the wheel of the latest Audi RS 6
estate and you quickly realise that
a new English word is needed to
accurately describe the kind of speed
dished up by the 572bhp, four-wheel
drive RS 6 Avant...
BEFORE YOU RUSH DOWN TO YOUR LOCAL AUDI DEALER with £77,730 in a brown paper
bag to buy one of the most powerful production Audis of all time
the latest 572bhp Audi RS 6 Avant you should be aware that you're
already too late. For this year, anyway. The entire first year's UK allocation
of 600 of these superb cars is already spoken for. Oversubscribed, to be precise.
The good news is that they're bringing in an extra 100 next year. Not
that a wait even as long as a year will in any way
deter keen drivers who have already enjoyed a stint behind the wheel of an RS
6. So what's the attraction?
Bald numbers don't even begin to explain the appeal of this amazing all-wheel
drive über-estate from quattro GmbH Audi's in-house equivalent of BMW's
M and Mercedes' AMG high-performance divisions. For a start, there's the RS
6's 5.0-litre V10 engine from which twin turbochargers (one per bank of cylinders)
wring out an awesome 572bhp backed by a equally substantial amount of torque
479lb ft of it. Pub quiz enthusiasts might like to make a note that this
is actually more punch than is packed under the bonnet of a Lamborghini Gallardo:
552bhp and 398lb ft.
The RS 6 is limited to a top speed of 155mph but, for another £1,350, Audi will
raise the bar to 174mph. Acceleration is yell-out-loud rapid, too; with
0-62mph taking 4.6 seconds and 0-124mph dispatched in a relentless 14.9 seconds.
Effectively, the RS 6 is faster from 62mph to 124mph than most cars are from
zero to 62mph. An indecently quick machine, then. Yes but just to keep
things in perspective, the Ferrari 599 recently
tested by MotorBar has 612bhp and 448lb ft and needs just 3.7 seconds to reach
62mph from standstill, and it also runs to over 200mph. However, 599 prices
start at £197,405.
What makes the RS 6 such an intriguing vehicle is the fact that, supercar-baiting
point-to-point performance aside, it is also a fully functional, family-friendly
everyday luxury estate car that anybody could step into and drive in even the
worst weather without a second thought apart from being made aware of
the power under the bonnet.
Contributing to the RS 6's illusory air of ordinariness is the A6 bodyshell
that, at a casual glance, makes it easy to mistake the RS 6 for a bog-standard
A6 estate. But look closer and you'll see artfully-flared wheel arches at each
corner that are stretched fluidly over striking-looking 20-inch alloy wheels
wearing 275/35 Pirelli P Zero rubber. Tucked away behind the huge front alloys
are massive brake callipers six-pot at the front with 'RS' branding;
finished not in showy look-at-me red but rather understated black. Walk around
to the tail and you'll find two large oval-shaped tailpipes, one at each corner
another clue to the RS 6's well-cloaked ability.
Buy any Audi today and you know that you're getting some of the very best quality
available anywhere. As the flagship RS 6 is one of the brand's 'halo' models
(alongside the likes of the R8) you would expect the best. And you won't be
disappointed inside and out, everything about the RS 6 exhibits excellent
fit, finish and Quality. The cabin not only looks fabulous but it feels it too,
with polished aluminium, carbon-fibre and Valcona leather all used to maximum
Plush, top-drawer materials and elegant design aside, the flawlessly 'crafted'
cabin is very comprehensively equipped with just about everything you could
wish for. The clearly arranged instrument cluster features classy, easily readable
white-on-black dials. There's also a turbo boost pressure indicator, oil temperature
gauge and lap timer; all accessed via the driver information system.
The three-spoke RS steering wheel incorporates multifunction controls for operating
the navigation, audio and telephone systems. It's rim is the perfect diameter
and it feels great in your hands. Deeply-contoured every-which-way adjustable
Sports front seats with integrated head restraints upholstered in soft leather
provide both hard-driving support and long-distance comfort there's also
power-adjustable lumbar support and manually-adjustable under-thigh support
along with 6-stage seat heating for both the front and the two outer rear seats.
And a memory function for the driver's seat.
Thoughtful touches include a drop-down glasses case in the overhead console,
customisable tones for the front and rear parking sensors (our test car was
fitted with the optional £375 advanced parking system which adds a rear-facing
camera in the boot handle and provides a clear image and parking guidelines
really very useful on the MMI screen), automatically opening and
self-locking boot, individual remote lock-out switches for the left and right
rear doors (especially handy if you have children) and out-of-sight drop-down
storage bins built into the leading edge of both front seats.
The full kit is too numerous to list here but highlights include a Bose surround
sound system, front and rear parking sensors with audio and visual feedback,
auto-dimming rear-view mirror, electromechanical parking brake, automatic lights
and wipers, tyre pressure monitoring system, Audi's easy-to-use Multi Media
Interface operating system with 7-inch high-res screen, built-in six-disc CD
autochanger, DAB digital radio, 2Zone climate control, Bluetooth, four one-touch
auto up/down windows, auto-dimming, heated and folding door mirrors, 3D SatNav,
cruise control, drive away automatic central locking, adaptive front lights
and an automatic self-opening/self-locking tailgate.
Refinement adds to the cabin's appeal. Despite the 20-inch tyres and high velocities
at which four adults and their luggage can travel in first-rate comfort, the
RS 6 is a cool place to be at any speed. For those interested, with the seats
in place there's 565 litres of boot space; with them down, the load bay accommodates
Road and wind noise is kept to a very acceptable minimum, and even the muted
hard-edged V10 snarl that accompanies full-bore acceleration doesn't spoil the
ambience. This is all about all-out performance: bury the throttle in the carpet
and, apart from the scenery flashing past, there's no blatant mechanical fireworks
to announce the fact.
While crescendos of visceral sound is deliciously de rigueur for a Ferrari
430 Spider or Ascari KZ1, the startlingly
fast, über-smooth Audi is best in stealthy 'seen but not heard' mode. Look
at it this way does Superman make any sound as, faster than a speeding
bullet, he goes about his superhero business? In the same way, the RS 6 is a
As you admire the leather-wrapped, flat-bottomed race-car style steering wheel,
you'll spot the perfectly positioned paddle-shifts on the rear of the horizontal
spokes. Left takes you down the gears; right takes you up. Using them gives
instant, satisfyingly precise control of gearshifts. Alternatively, the selector
lever can be moved into the manual gate and used for fast, incredibly smooth
up/down changes even when you're hard on the power. Fingertips or palm
(the selector knob is a perfect anatomical fit), it's your call.
Another core element of this second generation RS 6 is the three-stage Dynamic
Ride Control system. The driver can select any one of the three modes
Comfort, Dynamic and Sport via a quick twist of the MMI control knob
on the centre tunnel just behind the sturdy selector lever. The Sport setting
provides maximum chassis tightness but unless you're trackdaying, it's way too
firm for everyday tarmac. Comfort does what it says while Dynamic is appropriate
for press-on driving as long as you've driving solo. Almost all passengers
Combine the huge torque that's on tap virtually right through the rev range
(479lb ft from 1,500-6,250rpm) with the customisable damping with quattro permanent
four-wheel drive that is continuously distributing power between the front and
rear axles depending on weather conditions, road surface and grip (it's
factory-set for a sixty per cent rearward torque bias) and you have all
the essentials for a full-blooded driving machine. Stitching it all seamlessly
together is the superb six-speed tiptronic automatic transmission.
The steering rack-and-pinion with speed-dependent power assistance
is precise and the RS 6 steers fluently. Around town it is suitably light; on
the open road it weights up noticeably enough to make exploring the boundaries
of the RS 6's awesome all-wheel drive performance something that can be done
with easy confidence.
Snick the selector lever back to Sport and floor the throttle. You'll be catapulted
towards the horizon with seemingly continuous velocity that pins you back into
the sculpted RS Sports seat. The 4,991cc V10 revs cleanly and single-mindedly,
right to the red-line before changing up. It feels unburstable. And the RS 6
can do this all day long, on wet roads or dry. Play fair with the RS 6 and it
will play fair with you. It's easy to drive well with nothing to prove.
With more horsepower and torque than a Lambo at your disposal squeeze
the throttle and, regardless of the gear, there's an instant response
even ardent driving can be managed without sending the needle further than halfway
round the rev-counter. In fact, you may even find yourself overtaking slower
than you could so as not to make the other driver jump as you surge past. Unlike
a Ferrari, they don't see an RS 6 coming. In their mirrors it appears to be
a standard Audi wagon.
It takes only a short time after electrically tailoring yourself a perfect driving
position to discover that the RS 6 is not only very rapid indeed but that speed
isn't its only ace far from it: it has a handful of them. It rides flat,
has seemingly limitless grip and traction and unflappable composure. For spirited
real-world point-to-point driving, only a handful of very fast cars can stay
with it and they'll need to be driven by better drivers than you.
Stopping the RS 6 is as easy as flexing your foot: massive drilled and ventilated
steel discs with six-piston callipers are standard (ceramic brakes are a £6,250
option). And, as you'd expect, they are hugely effective at reining in the RS
6, offering progressive and easy to moderate braking with enormous bite.
Naturally the RS 6 comes with all the usual active and passive safety kit including,
of course, the latest generation quattro four-wheel drive system and an Electronic
Stability Programme that has been programmed to intervene as late as possible
in order to maximise driving pleasure but without compromising safety (if required,
the ESP can be completely deactivated). Six airbags (two front, two side and
two curtain) are fitted along with Isofix child seat mountings and switch-deactivation
of the front passenger airbag.
Another delight is the RS 6's throttle response it's razor-sharp; no
sooner have you thought about applying more power than it's done. The Tiptronic
kicks down eagerly, although using the paddle-shifts is the better bet for the
greatest control and that's perfect for harmonising with the RS 6's easy
driving style: go in fast; come out faster.
As entertaining as it is to drive at 7, 8, 9 or even 10 tenths, when you're
not in a tarmac-blistering mood (or it isn't appropriate) you can dial up the
Comfort setting for the adaptive dampers, slot the Tiptronic into Drive and
just waft between destinations with more panache than you thought possible.
Audi gives fuel consumption figures as 13.8, 20.2 and 27.4mpg for, respectively,
urban, combined and touring. Our test average over several hundred miles of
mixed driving, including in London traffic, was 16.4mpg. But what the heck?!
If you can afford to buy an RS 6, fuel economy will be the last thing on your
The awesomely fast RS 6 is a must-drive for any performance car-lover with around
£80,000 to spend. The RS 6 will, irrespective of the weather, cover ground as
fast as any supercar and it will manage it with aplomb, four-up and loaded
with a family's luggage. Don't want five doors? You're in luck: you can now
buy a four-door RS 6 saloon. In one word, would I spend my own money on one?