Audi RS6 (2002) Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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Monday 11th December
Car Review

Audi RS6 (2002) review

£90,560 - £107,060
Published: 21 Aug 2019


What is it like to drive?

This thing flings itself down a road with a pace as indecent-feeling as the 600bhp 'C7' RS6. Seriously.

Don’t go thinking you need to heave on the brakes and shed all that speed to have a vague hope of making it around a corner, though. RS Audis may not have the most prolific hit-rate of dynamic success, but this isn’t a car that immediately flops into understeer.

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In fact, get the nose tucked into a corner and, as you get back on the throttle, it feels almost like a bigger, fatter Impreza. You can sense power going to the rear axle to propel you out the other side.

Glance down at the speedometer and the numbers aren’t quite as high as they’d be in the newer car, but the sensation of relentless acceleration is the same. For a car that’s so mature in premise, its kicks are brilliantly childish.

There’s the slightest bit of turbo lag when you first prod the accelerator, then a huge surge of power. And it’ll happily rev right up to 7,000rpm, a classy eight-cylinder burble providing a backdrop to it all. No matter your previous performance car experience, it’ll make you smile.

Really ambitious cornering speeds will see a flicker of the traction control light, and on the tight, leafy lanes of Britain, I imagine the moments I’d feel brave enough to find the ‘off’ switch in a car this large would be few.

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But for all its size from the outside, you don’t feel it on the inside. A C7 RS6 would have you thumping over the cats’ eyes to keep a nice distance from the kerb, but in comparison, this feels impossibly narrow. As a result, I’d argue you’ll use more of its performance, more of the time.

A special mention for the steering. It’s super: quick, intuitive and reasonably well weighted. Whether it felt this good when new I don’t know – car journalists tend to enjoy moaning about steering more than anything else (myself included) – but given how light on feel modern electric systems have become (told you!), this now feels fantastic.

It rides well, too, that Dynamic Ride Control system doing wonders to shake off some of the worse road surfacing Britain has to offer. There’s a bit more squidge in its tyres than modern fast German stuff, too, owing to its 19in wheels. Though they fill the RS6’s (sublime) arches wonderfully.

Complaints? The automatic transmission does not react quickly enough when you manually pull the paddles, but nor is it quite clever enough when left to its own devices. It may feel as exciting as a newer RS6, but by God, have gearboxes come along since the early 2000s. Though the simplicity of five speeds rather than the modern trend for eight or nine is a surprise pleasure.

If you plan on frequently driving this thing briskly, you might also want to upgrade the brakes. It only took a few passes for the cornering shots in this gallery for them to start to whiff a little bit, and this was at appropriate road speeds. All the weight it shrugs off in a straight line still needs to be slowed down…

Highlights from the range

the fastest

Audi RS6 RS 6 TFSI Quattro Vorsprung 5dr Tiptronic
  • 0-623.6s
  • CO2268.0g/km
  • BHP600
  • MPG
  • Price£107,060

the cheapest

Audi RS6 RS 6 TFSI Quattro 5dr Tiptronic
  • 0-623.6s
  • CO2263.0g/km
  • BHP600
  • MPG
  • Price£90,560

the greenest

Audi RS6 RS 6 TFSI Quattro 5dr Tiptronic [Comfort + Sound]
  • 0-623.6s
  • CO2263.0g/km
  • BHP600
  • MPG
  • Price£92,455
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