Audi RS6 review - return of the king
The RS6 is truly now an all-round package – practical, comfortable, fast, and fun
Long the default choice when faced with the need for practicality in a ‘dream garage’, Audi’s latest RS6 Avant is better than ever in its latest incarnation. Audi has taken everything that made previous RS6s capable all-rounders and improved upon it – while adding a dose of driver interaction that its predecessors lacked.
It’s really surprised us as a result. There are certain characteristics you expect from an RS6, and those all remain unchanged: a feeling of impenetrability, huge performance, long-distance refinement, and a well-built and practical cabin. There have been changes in each quality, of course, but nothing particularly out of the ordinary.
What’s quite different though is that the RS6 Avant now gives something back to the driver. Drive quickly down a twisting road and the car’s agility, responsiveness and adjustability are all qualities that we’ve only really seen from Audi Sport with cars such as the R8. The RS6 is technologically advanced, but not simply for the sake of it – it now benefits the driver.
There is the thorny issue of price, with a few options tipping even the basic car over the £100,000 mark. Rivals are similar, of course, but it’s still an eye-opener. And despite good cruising economy, the RS6 is still likely to be quite expensive to run too, for something that will probably serve as a family vehicle for many owners. But that shouldn’t take away from the car’s undoubted talents – this wagon is both fast and fun.
Audi RS6 Avant: in detail
- Engine, gearbox and technical specs – Big power from a twin-turbo V8, all-wheel-drive traction, and fancy rear-wheel steering.
- Performance and 0-60 time – Mighty off the line, but the V8’s so refined it doesn’t feel quite as quick as you’re actually going.
- Ride and handling – The first RS6 to deliver genuine driver engagement rather than just massive straight-line pace.
- MPG and running costs – Official economy in the low 20s, but capable of 30mpg on a cruise.
- Interior and tech – Cabin is slightly dour but well made, and screen set-up feels high-tech. Some will be put off by the touchscreens though.
- Design – Long, low and wide, and much more aggressive than previous RS6s. Looks like a grown-up Hot Wheels toy from some angles.
Prices, specs and rivals
You should probably be sitting down for this, because a basic, option-free RS6 Avant will cost you a hundred quid short of £90,000, or £92,790 on the road, including the first year’s tax, shipping and registration. The Carbon Black edition lifts this over the ton, at £100,690 on the road, and the range-topping Vorsprung is a £109,290 car.
Long term tests
Of course, you’re getting a lot of car for the money – very literally, at over two tons – but even the basic RS6 is well-stocked. Standard kit includes 21-inch wheels, matrix LED headlights with laser technology, a pair of MMI Touch screens, leather sports seats, and in the UK market, standard rear-wheel steering and a sport rear differential.
The Carbon Black upgrades the wheels to 22-inchers, and adds a styling package consisting of carbonfibre trim for the front spoiler, skirts and diffuser insert, with a gloss black Audi badge and black window trim. The Vorsprung also gets 22-inch alloy wheels, RS sports suspension plus with Dynamic Ride Control, a top speed bump to 174mph, gloss black styling elements and a panoramic glass sunroof.
Audi’s standard colour palette is little to shout about, but £3000 and up will unlock access to Audi Exclusive paintwork options, which brighten things up considerably. Wheels of the 22-inch variety are a £2000 option on the basic car, and a host of other options are available on top of that, from a £1450 sports exhaust to £1300 for the DRC suspension.
With no M5 Touring, the most obvious rival for the RS6 Avant is Mercedes-AMG’s E63 S Estate. Similarly potent and similarly priced but with quite a different feel – more organic, more rowdy, but less capable – the fast AMG is as much a reassuring constant in this class as the Audi.
Porsche’s Panamera Sport Turismo is another contender, ideally in £120,065 Turbo form. Our most recent comparison between the RS6 and Panamera (and the E63 S) used a Turbo S E-Hybrid which sailed above the £140k mark and struggled with its weight, so we’d certainly be tempted to keep it a little simpler – the basic Panamera package drives well and looks great these days too.