Motoring expert Chris Walsh test drives the new model…
Picture a typical sports car and you may arrive on something that is incredibly small, totally impractical and has an unreliable relationship with reliability – but you can now think again. For the bods at Audi have quietly perfected the alternative breed of sports car that comes with all of the fun and all of the function.
To fully understand the new RS 6, look no further than the car it’s derived from. The Audi A6 Avant has already earned its stripes for being a capable, professional and practical estate that can swallow as much flat-pack furniture as you can throw at it. So having a base like this to lavish the full RS treatment on is suddenly making a lot of sense.
To cement its position on the sports car wall of fame, the new RS 6 needs something special up top, and a 4.0-litre, twin-turbo V8 that chucks out terrifying 552 bhp has been granted that particular role. And what a job it does as, believe it or not, this engine will get you and your wardrobe to 62 mph in less than four seconds. For a car of this nature, that is blisteringly quick.
Despite straying so far into the realms of performance, the latest RS 6 Avant still manages to register an attractive miles per gallon figure, thanks partly to an engine start-stop system and for the first time in the RS 6, cylinder-on-demand technology. At low engine speeds, the engine will close half of itself down, allowing the grizzly bear within to operate more like a teddy bear, until the driver accelerates with intent once more.
The switch between four and eight cylinders is an operation that takes just a few hundredths of a second and is totally unnoticeable. In fact, the only actual indicator is a small visual signal within the instrument cluster. This technology helps to reduce fuel consumption by roughly five to 10 per cent, meaning a highly credible 28.8-mpg combined is now possible.
The German precision continues with a sumptuous eight-speed transmission that has various shift times depending on whether the ‘Sport’, ‘Manual’ or ‘Drive’ mode has been selected. The driver has the option to shift for themselves via the shift paddles on the steering wheel or via the selector lever located on the centre console. As is typical with such an array of gears available, the lower gears are tightly spaced for optimum performance, while a tall seventh and eighth is primarily to aid fuel consumption on those longer journeys.
The new RS 6 Avant will be the first RS model to feature adaptive air suspension. The specially tuned set-up lowers the body and incorporates controlled damping that takes into account road conditions, driving style and the particular chosen ‘mode’. It also has the ability to raise the chassis, allowing you a tad more freedom if you ever need to venture over uneven ground.
Internally, the sporty feel continues with a smartly trimmed but highly focused cockpit that is singularly tailored to the driver. The dial instruments feature some highly attractive designs, while the flat-bottomed three-spoke ultifunction steering wheel and the snug seats carry over the sporty sensation.
A nice feature within the RS 6 dash is the new F1 style shift lights. Green segments are illuminated as revs increase and the bar turns red and begins to blink to signify the critical point to change gear.
As befits the ultimate incarnation of the A6, the RS 6 Avant will feature a generous list of standard equipment, including xenon plus headlights, LED rear lights, illuminated entry sills and the RS-specific driver’s information system. Also on board will be the parking system plus, cruise control, four-zone automatic air conditioning, MMI navigation, BOSE sound system, DAB radio and the Audi Music Interface.
Key options will include ceramic brakes, sports suspension plus with Dynamic Ride Control (DRC) and pretty much every other high-end option possible, such as a head-up display and a Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System with 15 speakers and 1,200 watts of total power.
At A Glance
Model: Audi RS 6
Priced From: £77,000
Powerplant: 4.0-Litre, twin turbo V8
Drivetrain: Quattro Permanent All-Wheel Drive
Transmission: Eight-Speed Tiptronic
Power: 552 bhp
Torque: 700 Nm
Weight: 1935 kg
0-62 mph: 3.9 Seconds
Top Speed: 155mph (limited)
Combined MPG: 28.8 mpg
CO2 emission: 229 g/km