It’s not often you can use the words
‘practical’ and ‘high performance' in the same sentence, especially when describing a car. The Audi RS 6 Avant certainly fits into both categories and manages to offer even more to boot.
In a time when sedans sales are diminishing at an alarming rate and wagons are as common as hen's teeth, it seems strange that electrically-minded Audi would still produce a wagon that is not only comfortable and practical, but is also capable of challenging most supercars on the track. All this while still having enough cargo space to carry a family of five and enough luggage to last them a week.
When you first think of a wagon you envisage a boxy people and luggage carrier, but the RS 6 Avant throws all these misconceptions out of the window with its powerful exterior design, interior space and level of comfort.
Audi has taken a different design initiative from its competitors. This isn’t a powerful package hidden under a demure body shell. The exterior design shows it is a wagon with a big difference. The RS 6 is hunkered low with its fenders being extended by 40mm to be able to contain the massive 22-inch wheels. From both the front and rear, the RS 6 looks muscular and powerful with the Nardo Gray paint adding to its aggressive stance. The black rear diffuser that encompasses the two huge rear exhaust tips adds another sporty dimension to the rear, not normally associated with a wagon.
This particular RS 6 came with the Carbon Optics Package that adds a hefty $6,350 to the price tag that includes the 22-inch black wheels, black badging, numerous glossy carbon fibre exterior finishes that include the wing mirror housing.
As you would expect, the interior of the RS 6 is not your normal wagon either. The fit and finish is more than deserving of its six-figure price tag. Black Valcona leather, RS Sports seats finished with double red stitching add to the sportiness of the cabin. The centre console is made up of an upper 10.6-inch infotainment touch screen situated directly above a lower 8.6-inch screen that is used to manage the dual-zone climate control. The carbon fibre trim on the dash adds to the luxurious feel of the interior while still managing to stick to the sports car feel. The RS Design Package adds RS floor mats, black seat belts with a grey border, leather dash armrests and consul and an Alcantara finished steering wheel for a further $1,900.
Audi’s Virtual Cockpit is standard in the RS 6 and gives the driver more flexibility especially when the 12-inch digital screen can be tailored to the driver's personal needs.
The cargo area certainly isn’t a cosmetic addition either, it is functional and big enough to fit several large suitcases easily.
Most of the RS 6’s magic is hidden under the sheet metal.
Upfront is a superb 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 that produces 591 hp and 591 lb/ft of torque that will propel it up to 100km/h in a blistering 3.6 seconds. The 8-speed transmission is connected to Audi’s Quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system ensuring that traction is spread to all four corners equally during aggressive acceleration. The standard adaptive air suspension controls the ride comfort and performance levels depending on the speed of the vehicle or how the driver chooses to have it set up.
Also introduced is the RS button on the steering wheel that can be set up with two pre-determined RS driving modes that control the engine, transmission, steering and suspension that is easily changed between modes by a simple press.
The RS 6 has a real split personality - with the proper set up driving around town is pleasurable, quiet and, thanks to the air suspension, comfortable. It handles the rough pot-holed roads of Southern Ontario with ease and not much fuss. The engine noise doesn’t resonate into the cockpit and makes for a pleasurable about-town drive. Acceleration is easily controlled especially when there is so much power available.
Turning in tight spots is made easier with the rear-wheel steering that is included as part of the Dynamic Package ($2,950) that also includes dynamic steering and a sport rear differential. This is all and well, but in reality, no one buys an RS 6 Avant to tootle around town with.
With the press of a button everything changes, and the true RS spirit explodes from under the hood as the RS 6 is metamorphosized into an angry beast. The vehicle hunkers down, the exhaust note changes from a purr to a roar and long roads become shorter in an instant. Acceleration, while controlled, is blistering and I don’t know if it is the engine that is pulling the car along or the roar from the exhaust that is pushing it along. Under hard acceleration, the gear changes are perfectly timed and surprisingly smooth. Getting up to highway speeds is made so easy – staying at highway speeds is ever so more difficult.
Even at speed, the RS 6 is easily managed and hitting a bend at high speed is kept evenly balanced by the air suspension, rear-wheel steering and of course the AWD system. I did push it hard into a few corners I was certain that the road was going to give way before the car lost traction. There is virtually no body roll and the handling seems to improve the more aggressively you drive it.
The RS 6 Avant is a beast, but a beast that can be easily controlled thanks to so much technical innovation. It can be a sweet as can be for driving around town in a relaxed manner but can change in an instant into a monster that will leave all passengers (and all their luggage) hanging on for dear life!
The vehicle was provided to the writer by the automaker. Content and vehicle evaluations were not subject to approval.