Hilariously menacing to look at, ruthlessly quick, beautifully made
Handling not as engaging as some unless you’re driving like, well, an Audi driver. Rubbish seats
What is it?
Audi’s practical family car laced with supercar performance. Ever since its collaboration with Porsche in the early Nineties to investigate surprisingly spacious speed courtesy of the RS2, the folks at Ingolstadt have made a name for themselves by producing knuckle-biting, performance-orientated five-door estates. This latest iteration has added sophistication and technology to go with its speed. Boy-oh-boy, a hell of a lot of speed.
Angry-looking thing, isn't it?
Only the front doors, roof and tailgate are shared with a rep-spec A6. And it’s got heaps of attitude: blistered bodywork a whopping 80mm wider than standard, a contemptuous frown (a throwback from the ’84 Sport quattro), bazooka tailpipes and a squat muscular stance, sat low on 22-inch wheels. These features compound for unparalleled presence.
Over the years, the RS6 has had a multitude of engines, including, hilariously, a twin turbo V10. Now billed the RS6 Performance, these days it’s powered by a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 good for 621bhp and 627lb ft, rises of 31bhp and 37lb ft over the previous ‘non-Performance’, if you like. As a result it’ll do 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds. That’s 0.2s faster than the outgoing version.
So, it’s got pace, but how about space?
This supercar performance is paired with a boot that’s capable of swallowing 1,680 litres of stuff, making it a direct competitor for the Mercedes-AMG E63 Estate and Porsche’s Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo. It’s a size bigger than the BMW M3 Touring, which you suspect has rather put Audi Sport’s nose out of joint by nicking all the fast wagon headlines lately.
Does it have switchable 4WD like the BMW M5 and Merc E63?
No, it’s permanent 4WD – you can’t disable the front driveshafts. In real-world situations, this means you can use a ridiculous amount of that near 621bhp grunt all the time. That’s the difference quattro makes; it gives you traction and confidence. But thanks to a new active rear differential, the Performance is more entertaining at the very limit than most other Audi wagons of recent decades.
That’s just the tip of a tech iceberg though. There’s also rear-wheel steering, adaptive suspension and the interior wouldn’t embarrass an A8 limo. It’s a very complete family wagon – as it should be for prices starting at £111,570. That’s around £15,000 more than the previous model, but Audi is happy to charge you far more if you’d like some carbon fibre in the mix…
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
Ultimately the RS6 even in Performance guise isn’t begging to do a driver’s bidding like an M3 Touring. But for an RS6, it’s fairly sensational. There’s still room for improvement: the typically Audi-ish brake pedal is horribly over-servo’d and demands you faceplant the dashboard. Downshifts are a bit tardy too.
You still get the sense this is a car happier at eight-tenths. But should you choose to, you get your money’s worth when you crank the big six up to eleven. And we’d not blame you if you bought one purely for how devilishly brooding it looks. Phwoar…