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05 December 2012

Revealed: the new Audi RS6 Avant

It’s the one Audi RS to rule them all: time to meet the third generation über-estate

Vijay Pattni
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You'll probably figure it out quickly enough, so there's no point inserting some verbose preamble: the brand new Audi RS6, pictured above, is less powerful than the last Audi RS6.

Did that just bring a shudder to your Internet brains? We've long become accustomed to a world where newer automatically means biblically more powerful, so is this less powerful Audi RS6 a welcome flare of sanity?

We should certainly think so. It's the third generation of Audi's über estate, and features the twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 used in the Bentley and Audi S8, tweaked to some 552bhp and 700Nm of torque. But here's the interesting part: despite the bhp drop from 572bhp, this new Audi RS6 will accelerate from 0-100kph in 3.9 seconds. Three point nine. That's a full 0.7 tenths quicker than the old one. Yikes.

Audi tells us you'll be able to tap into that torque from 1,750rpm. The reason for such efficiency rests in the V8's design: the two turbos and intercooler are all mounted inside the ‘V' of the cylinder banks. Also, the exhaust side of the cylinder heads - which ultimately feed the turbos - sits on the inside, so there's a shorter gas path.

Top speed is limited to 250kph, but can be raised to 280kph in the optional Dynamic pack, and raised further still to 305kph with the Dynamic plus pack. Even then, it's still limited. All this, and Audi reckons it'll hit 10.1kpl on the combined cycle, in part thanks to cylinder shut-off technology at low engine speeds that turns it into a four-cylinder. Floor it, and all eight will catapult you into a hernia instantaneously.

This economy is also thanks to the new RS6's lightweight body: it's 100kg lighter than its predecessor, partly because the new A6 Avant uses a lot of aluminium in its body, and the decision to downsize from a V10 to a V8. 100kg is a lot, if you're wondering.

You get an eight-speed tiptronic gearbox with shift paddles and ‘tighter' lower gears for pace, and a taller eighth cog for economy. Naturally, it's got permanent four-wheel-drive, featuring a self-locking centre differential (as in the RS5) and an electronic sport differential at the back.

It's also the first Audi RS model to get adaptive air suspension that lowers the body by 20mm, but we'll get the sport suspension with dynamic ride control as standard. With the latter, you get steel springs, three-way adjustable shock absorbers and dynamic steering. When you hit ‘dynamic' mode this active steering goes to passive mode. This is good.

Sitting underneath those 20in wheels (or optional 21in gloss black rims like on the Quattro concept) are simply massive brakes: 390mm stoppers up front, or optional 420mm carbon-fibre ceramics. Press down hard enough and you'll slow down the earth's rotation.

The cockpit is typically Audi, with enough RS logos scattered around the place to remind your friends just how much money you earn. The seats are made of leather and alcantara, there are two sports seats in the rear (a three-seater bench is an option), there's an MMI touch-screen interface, lots of sensors and a decent stereo.

Not that you'll care about the stereo. TopGear grabbed a chance to have a listen to the new Audi RS6, which comes with switchable exhaust flaps that deliver a "full-throated sound". We can vouch for this - it sounds smashing...

Tags: a6, audi, avant, rs6, rs6 avant

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