Audi RS6 Quattro Avant

April 2008

picture of car from the front

Increased air intakes hint at high performance

Ratings

Overall Rating 8Overall rating

Value for money Rating 7Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 3Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 8Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 8Controls and display

Comfort Rating 8Comfort

Security Rating 7Car security

Safety Rating 8Car safety


Likes

  • Tremendous outright speed
  • Spacious and comfortable interior
  • Adjustable suspension benefits ride and performance
  • Extremely refined at high speed

Gripes

  • No manual option
  • Poor turning circle
  • Transmission tunnel location of buttons is distracting
  • Heavy steering around town

Taking high-powered estate cars to the next level, the new RS6 is even more powerful than Audi's R8 super-car. Combining the most potent engine that the company has ever produced for a production car with a four-wheel drive transmission and the practicality of an executive estate, the RS6 attempts to blend high performance with work-a-day functionality.

The one-upmanship between the German premium manufacturers has meant that more and more powerful engines have been appearing in their family saloons and estates with predictable regularity. The increasingly high outputs of the engines have encouraged the manufacturers to increase the capabilities of their model's chassis and transmissions, developments that in turn benefit the rest of their ranges.

The previous generation RS6 used a twin turbo V8 engine producing 444bhp, later increased to 473bhp. The new model's twin turbo V10 is nearly 100bhp more powerful, making the RS6 the most powerful production estate car available at launch. Audi's highly advanced Quattro four-wheel drive system gives it the edge over rivals in terms of power delivery, but for a more sporting drive the transmission has been re-developed to deliver 60 per cent of the engine's tremendous power to the rear wheels, unlike the 50/50 set-up of the previous generation model.

Despite its super-car performance, Audi has attempted to design the RS6 so that none of the practicality and tractability of the A6 models is lost. The large and luxurious interior remains intact, as does the copious boot. Adjustable suspension means the RS6 needn't always offer a harsher, performance-orientated ride. Fuel consumption has been minimised too, although it still reflects the high-output nature of the engine.

As the range's flagship model, the RS6 has most of the options boxes ticked, but Audi is aware that the exclusive nature of the performance model means customers are likely to want a bespoke build, with additional options and specific colour choices. From the outside, there's little to give away the model's unbelievable performance credentials save for slightly bolder arches, larger air intakes, twin exhausts, large wheels and brakes and, of course, the RS6 badging. The discreet styling is in keeping with Audi's reserved philosophy.

Our verdict on the Audi RS6 Quattro Avant

An outstanding performance vehicle, the RS6 is not for the faint-hearted if driven with venom, but little of the A6's tractability has been sacrificed. It comes with the same expensive running costs as a high-performance sports car and doesn't quite muster the soul of some of its rear-wheel drive counterparts, but if money is of no concern then the RS6 is one of the most exciting and smile inducing estate cars money can buy.

Costs
Costs rating 3

Nothing about the RS6 is going to come cheap. A high purchase price reflects the performance and luxury specification of the vehicle, as will high insurance premiums. Consumables such as tyres are likely to be expensive too, making the RS6 a considerable investment. However, limited numbers mean the model should not depreciate too severely.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 8

The roomy interior offers plenty of space for five-adults, and the large boot is also extremely useful. Fold the rear seats flat and the potential load space is enormous. Four-wheel drive adds an additional element of practicality, although the RS6 is hardly built for off-roading.

picture of car from the rear

RS6's size makes it a formidable family car

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 8

The RS6 features a well-organised assembly of dials and displays. A second colour display is integrated into the instrument binnacle, which compliments the full-size display in the centre console well. The sheer volume of equipment on the model means many buttons have spilled over to the gearshift surround, which can be distracting until locations become familiar, but switchgear and levers feel solid. Steering wheel paddle shifts make high speed driving safer and more efficient.

Comfort
Comfort Rating 8

With the adjustable suspension set to comfort, the RS6 offers a wonderfully refined ride, although it stiffens up sharply as the racier settings are selected. Wind noise is pared down to a bare minimum and road noise, despite the wide tyres, is also well controlled. The leather interior, particularly the RS front sports seats, is very comfortable. Both front and rear seats are heated.

Car security
Security Rating 7

The RS6 features Audi's usual high level of security including alarm, immobiliser and central locking. Covered storage is available inside and window tints can be specified at cost.

Car safety
Safety Rating 8

The huge speed is countered by the RS6's huge brakes, but even more powerful and fade-free ceramic versions are a cost option. Tyre pressure monitoring is standard on the model and side airbags are included front and rear, over and above the usual airbag specification. Stability control, traction control and an electronic locking differential are also present.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 9

The RS6 is a real experience to drive, with eye-watering acceleration and a seemingly endless amount of grip. The heavy steering is far more suited to high speed driving than low speed crawls, but offers plenty of feedback. The difference between the comfort, dynamic and sport settings of the adjustable suspension is immediately evident and the settings are perfectly tuned to deal with relaxed or frenetic driving. The advanced four-wheel drive system limits the amount of electronic interference required for safe high-speed driving, enhancing the experience further.

picture of car interior

RS6 interiors are highly specified

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 8

The RS6's size makes it an ideal family car, and its excellent build quality should be more than capable with dealing with abuse thrown at it by kids. Leather interiors are not always suited to family life however, and few drivers will want to explore the performance potential with their family onboard. However, the model has been designed to provide the dual role of everyday drive and super-car in equal measure.

First car appeal
First car Rating 2

The RS6 is too expensive, probably too large and far too powerful to make a sensible choice as first car. Although manageable, its considerable performance is best suited to a more experienced driver.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 9

Audi's build quality is usually among the finest, and the RS6 is no different. Interior and exterior are beautifully finished and materials feel extremely high quality. The RS6 is not a particularly showy car and may be mistaken for a regular A6. This is no bad thing, as the A6 is a much-admired model. Among those in the know, the RS6 has as much appeal as any super-car.

Accessibility
Accessibility Rating

A large car, the RS6 poses no problems in terms of accessibility. Five large doors make accessing the front, rear and boot extremely easy, while low sills fail to hinder progress. A motorised boot door is an extra benefit.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

As you might expect from a range-topping model in this price bracket, the RS6 features a full quota of gadgetry and toys. All incorporated into a menu-based control system in the centre console. The navigation, radio and myriad of other systems are for the most part easily accessed and controlled although there are small ergonomic issues thrown up by the sheer volume of buttons and equipment. The sound quality of the Bose surround-sound system and digital radio is superb.

picture of car in detail

Twin turbocharged V10 is phenomenally powerful

Colours and trim

The discreet styling of the RS6 is matched by a selection of equally discreet colour choices. Silver, grey, red, green, blue and black are on offer. All RS6s come with the highest level of specification, which means fully electric seats, aluminium exterior trim and carbon interior details. It's a combination that works very well, and the styling and quality will not disappoint.

Parking

Equipped with parking sensors front and rear, there should be little reason to bump the RS6 during a parking manoeuvre. The four-wheel drive system has a notable effect of the RS6's turning circle, which may make tight manoeuvres troublesome. It's a large car, but good visibility makes it manageable.

Spare wheel

Temporary puncture repair kit fitted as standard.

 

Range information

Petrol engine options - 5.0-litre (572bhp). Transmission options: Six-speed tiptronic gearbox. Trim levels: Saloon, Avant.

 

Alternative cars

BMW 5 Series M5 Touring is marginally slower but considerably cheaper

Mercedes-Benz E-Class E63AMG Estate matches pace and build quality

Maserati Quattroporte Less practical but a powerful and luxurious tourer

Bentley Continental GT More expensive but with unsurpassed refinement



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April 2008