If Top Gear magazine were allowed to play favourites, then this section in our round-up of the Cars of 2013 would be the one. Think of these as civilian supercars, the kind of kit that could, possibly, fit with a normal human lifestyle. After all, it might be life-affirming to charge about in a supercar, but when it comes to the daily grind, most of us need to carry people and things, and not have the constant attention you get in a Lambo. So you require something a little more practical (seating for five, a boot that you can actually use), a touch more discreet, but still capable of putting that startled smile on your face when the road clears and nobody’s looking. These cars do exist, and in 2013 there’s a delicious and definite theme for the significant, thunderous saloons: the forced-induction V8.
The Audi RS6 Avant has been a perennial flag-carrier for the Thinking Man’s Supercar, and the new version is no different. Downsized slightly from the previous 5.0-litre, bi-turbo FSI V10, the new RS6 now comes with a 556bhp, 4.0-litre, twin-turbo bent-eight, driving through an eight-speed Tiptronic auto. Saying that, it’s not down on punch - 0-62mph comes in a scarcely believable 3.9 seconds, and top whack is 189mph. In a big estate car. Several reasons: it’s roughly 100kg lighter than before, it has the surety of quattro AWD and, if you want real-world shove, then 516lb ft on tap from 1,750-5,500rpm should do the trick. It’ll also manage 28.8mpg on the combined cycle, some 40 per cent better than the V10. Not quite 320d, but…
If you don’t need the outright space, then there are a couple of other cars arriving this year that offer similar fast-car punch for your practicality pound. The Jaguar XFR-S stands on the familiar five-seat XF platform, but takes the XFR’s supercharged 5.0-litre V8 to a tyre-shredding new level, with 542bhp and 501lb ft of torque. It makes it the fastest Jag saloon ever, posting 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds and 186mph through a rather excellent 8spd auto, as long as you can find the grip - the XFR-S is RWD only. The noise it makes is probably worth the price of entry alone, though that - albeit optional - rear wing isn’t exactly subtle. We’ll see it in May for £79,995.
Similarly, the BMW M6 Gran Coupe - due early this year - takes a familiar car and pumps it full of engineering steroids. So we get the M5/M6’s 552bhp, 4.4-litre, bi-turbo V8 driving the rear wheels through a 7spd M DCT, in a CFRP-roofed Gran Coupe shell, for £103k. Given the performance of the cars it neatly bisects, expect 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds, with a top speed of 189mph, if you option the high speed M-Driver’s package.
Which just goes to show that in 2013, subtle is in the eye of the beholder, and practical doesn’t have to be sensible. TG approves.