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Audi RS6 Avant and RS6 Performance review - the reason you need to never buy a fast SUV - Engine and gearbox

Audi’s most powerful, fastest estate car may lack ultimate involvement and dynamics, but it’s still one of the best in its class.

Evo rating
Price
from £79,545
  • Pace, space and impeccable build
  • Not the most involving of drives

Engine and gearbox

The RS6’s engine is a remarkable collection of metals. There’s no shortage of low end shove and as the revs rise and the turbos are at full puff the V8’s inherent strength takes over. There’s no tailing off as the engine speeds increase either, and the linearity of its delivery is addictive.

The technical highlight of the RS6’s V8 is its cylinder on demand (COD) technology. It’s a piece of tech that Audi has rolled out across many of its much smaller capacity engines of late, and works by shutting down the inlet and exhaust valves of cylinder number two, three, five and eight when engine speed drops to a prescribed level. 

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By switching to a four-cylinder engine the RS6 can achieve a claimed 28.8mpg on the combined cycle, a figure we matched on a number of long runs in the car; impressive for a near two-tonne car.

>Read our Range Rover Sport SVR review

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For the Performance model, Audi has remapped the ECU, raised the engine's rev limit and increased the turbocharger's boost level.

The eight-speed gearbox shifts ratio seamlessly when you want to waft and rapid fire quick when you need it, with every change dropping you into the meat of the V8’s power and torque curve. Acceleration is relentless, with the RS6 a natural three-figure cruiser, its 155mph (or 189mph if you’ve opted to have it delimited) maximum never far away.

As with the engine, the Performance model's gearbox has also been reworked, with the software adapted for quicker shifts and sharper responses over the standard gearbox. 

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