It may not be our favourite fast estate car, that accolade goes to the Mercedes-AMG E63, but Audi’s RS6 Avant has an appeal that we just can’t ignore. Its quattro all-wheel drive chassis generates huge levels of grip that allows you to exploit every single one of its 552bhp produced by its twin-turbocharged V8 no matter the conditions beneath its 20-inch Pirelli shod alloy wheels.
Jump in the new RS6 Performance and the intensity of the delivery across the board increases to deliver a more rounded and intoxicating experience, with a more potent 592bhp version of the same 4-litre V8 engine under the bonnet.
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Neither version of the C7 RS6 are particularly involving drives, however. The front end can feel pretty leaden when you start to push its chassis, and the steering lacks that clear feedback you’d like to have when trying to thread a 1935kg estate car along an enticing stretch of road. But it always feels hunkered down and keyed into the surface, the whole package a tight, cohesive one. When you absolutely have to get somewhere and speed and security is the crucial factor, there are very few rivals that come close to the RS6. And why on earth you would consider a turbo or supercharged SUV over one of these, we've no idea.
Audi RS6 (C7): in detail
- Engine, gearbox and technical specs – This was Audi’s first application of the new 4-litre twin-turbo V8 and it shows. Power and torque are everywhere
- Performance and 0-60 time – It was top of the class in 2013, but as rivals went all-wheel drive, so their acceleration showed up the RS6
- Ride and handling – The C7 RS6 embodied all its typical traits, numb front-led handling being one of them, although ride quality is impressive despite big wheels and tyres
- MPG and running costs – Aim for anything above 20mpg and you’ll be onto a winner. Dig into the carpet and prepare to see those numbers free-fall
- Interior and tech – Superb quality, detailing and materials. Infotainment system was top-notch on launch, so still does a passing job in 2020
- Design – This is where the RS6’s real desirability lies. Flared arches, big wheels, and able to be specified anywhere between subtle menace and Sunday driver hot-rod
Prices, specs and rivals
The RS6 Avant retails at over £80k, and comes, as they say in the trade, fully loaded. The options though still roll on through a few pages, the Sports suspension with Dynamic Ride would be the only box we’d tick for £1000. This avoids the wooly Dynamic steering included in the £2600 Dynamic package. The almost five-figure, ceramic brakes are pointless unless you’re going to take your barge on track – very unlikely we imagine.
Slipping under £90k the Performance model commands a considerable premium over the standard RS6. For some the boost in performance will be worth the extra cash. Telling your Performances from your RSs needs your eyes on the skirting. Bespoke front and rear bumpers as well as the mother of all rear diffusers are the differentiators.
The practical wagon shape is the only available bodystyle for the RS6 - unlike rivals such as the new BMW M5 and Jaguar XJR, which are solely saloons. The Mercedes-AMG E63 is available in both formats. For the first time the RS6’s German rivals are also four-wheel drive, but largely recapture the dynamic character and handling balance of their predecessors thanks to clever electronic configuring. Thus the Mercedes and BMW are more involving to drive and enjoyable to drive.
The high performance band of range topping SUVs, such as Porsche's Cayenne Turbo, BMW's X5M or Range Rover's Sport SVR provide indirect competition. While they’re equally as practical as the Audi, an acceleration test from a standstill or rolling start would leave them dumbfounded at the sheer speed the RS6 can muster in a short distance. They have less interior space too and are more costly to run with extra heft to carry. The RS6 would get the nod from us over any SUV equivalent everytime.