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Audi RS6

£78,095
9/10
Overall verdict

For: 

Speed, handling, practicality... almost everything, really

Against: 

Erm, fuel economy?
It’s the most amusing car that Audi makes – including the R8 – for sheer wilful silliness.

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Our choice

Audi

4.0T FSI V8 Bi-Turbo RS6 Quattro 5dr Tip Auto

£76,090
9/10
29mpg
3.90s
560bhp
229g/km

What we say: 

Designed for das autobahn, but works brilliantly just about everywhere. RS6 Avant might be the only car you'd ever need...

What is it?

So this is the new RS6 Avant, and the recipe remains pretty much the same as before. A big-engined version of the A6 Avant, all-wheel drive, auto ‘box. But the execution is different. Cleverer. A 4.0-litre V8 instead of a 5.0-litre V10. Better balance. More thoughtful deployment of resources. Now, the previous bi-turbo V10 was an excellent express train for mauling Das Autobahn, but tended towards the bloodless when attempting a corner (it required extreme conditions to really show you what it was capable of), and fuelling it was like tipping buckets of unleaded down a car-shaped storm drain. So this version attempts to deal with some of those issues.

Driving

The RS6 now handles properly. The engine is short - only 497mm - compared with the old V10, and some clever positioning of bits means that the RS6 now has a much-improved balance front to rear. And it shows. It still leads slightly with the nose, but throw in the active diffs and general trickery, and this is a big estate that’s proper fun - it’ll even slide a bit, though you need space and a smaller imagination than I possess to do it much on a public road.

On the inside

Built from granite made to look like plastic. This is an interior other manufacturers should worship. Massively practical because it is just so massive. Use this car everyday and love it. Kill the Labrador accidentally with strenuous acceleration, make the kids go blue with fright; it’s all good. 

Owning

Of course, adding lightness is good for efficiency, and the new RS6 is a decent chunk more fuel-efficient than the old version - up to 30 per cent. Part of that is down to clever aircon and thermal management, but there’s also COD (Cylinder On Demand) tech in the engine, which we’ve seen before on various cars. This simply shuts down half the cylinders when running a light throttle. In the case of the RS6, if you’re using under 3,500rpm on a constant load, then the car drops cylinders 2, 3, 5 and 8 out of service. Doing so generally reduces fuel consumption by about five per cent on the usual combined cycle, or as much as 12 per cent at a steady 62mph cruise. Which isn’t to be sniffed at, especially as a twin-turbo V8 isn’t likely to be particularly drink-shy if you decide to boot it.

Highlights from the range

Title 0–62 CO2 MPG BHP Price
The fastest
4.0T FSI Quattro RS 6 5dr Tip Auto
3.9s 223g/km 29.4 560 £78,095
The cheapest
4.0T FSI Quattro RS 6 5dr Tip Auto
3.9s 223g/km 29.4 560 £78,095
The greenest
4.0T FSI Quattro RS 6 5dr Tip Auto
3.9s 223g/km 29.4 560 £78,095

Wildcard

How about something completely different?

Wildcard

9/10

Land Rover Range Rover Sport

£61,545£93,995
A supercharged Range Rover Sport. Not as quick, but just as practical and handy off-road