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First Drive

Audi RS6 Avant GT (US) review: retro-tastic special edition… with 621hp

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Published: 08 Jul 2024
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That’s a mean lookin’ wagon.

You’re not kidding. It’s the Audi RS6 Avant GT, the retro-tastic special edition of the already quite sporty RS6 Avant. To bring you up to speed, the RS6 is a wagon spawned from Audi’s long-running A6 line of mid-sized four door sedans. It eventually got a five-door ‘Avant’ variant, which soon became the permanent style of the RS performance version of the 6.

We haven’t seen many of those around in a while.

Indeed. In SUV land, the only thing that sells worse than the waning sedan is probably the ‘station wagon’, due to historically worse stigmatization than the minivan as a dull, family-hauling stinker. We blame the Griswolds for that one.

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Subsequently, the RS6 Avant was not offered in North America for a while, though it made a return to this side of the pond just a couple of years ago. We’re thinking overwhelming SUV saturation has directed interest to alternative vehicles that offer both utility and performance, so, like synth pop and high-tops, wagons are making a comeback.

Speaking of the 80s, what’s going on with this style?

The Audi RS6 Avant GT takes its styling cues from the Audi 90 Quattro IMSA GTO, a race car that took the American racing series by storm for one amazing season in 1989. Audi participated in Trans-Am the year before, trouncing everyone with the Audi 200 so much that Trans-Am instituted a “no Quattros” rule at the end of the season.

Switching over to IMSA, Audi put the 90 GTO to work, winning seven out of 13 races that season, missing out of the championship mainly due to the car’s late development. Once it was up and running, it dominated the field.

In honor of this, the Audi RS6 Avant GT is styled in the same fashion with graphics, unique body elements, and numerous other additions throughout.

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So it’s just an RS 6 with decals?

Oh, far from it. The underpinnings of this special edition have been reworked to make it a true celebration of the race car that inspired it. Under the (carbon fiber) hood is the same 621hp 4.0-liter turbo V8 found in the RS6, though the difference here is it’s freed up to reach 190mph as opposed to the 155-170mph limits on other editions of the car. To keep it under control, the GT has carbon ceramic brakes and the sport exhaust as standard.

Furthermore, the Audi RS6 Avant GT ditches the adaptive air suspension for a manually-adjustable five-link coilover setup that’s also 14lbs lighter and is 10mm lower by default. With the built-in launch control, the GT can go from 0-60mph in 3.2 seconds.

Wait, this wagon has launch control?! 

Heck yeah it does. Set it in the most aggressive RS2 drive mode, and you simply need to floor the brake pedal, then the gas, and then lift off the brake. It doesn’t have a special menu or setting, it’s just always ready to let fly.

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So does it drive like a race car?

Y’know, for something that is ostensibly a family car, it’s a wild, wild ride. There’s the smallest modicum of turbo lag to deal with, but it’s compensated by the lightning fast eight-speed Tiptronic gearbox. Whether you’re flicking through the gears manually or letting it do its thing, the transmission is setting you up for success each time.

To that end, the GT gets up to speed quick enough for it to get you in trouble with the law before you realize it. If you’ve got your own runway though, the world’s your oyster. The GT is a boisterous plaything, and the RS2’s stability settings give the car plenty of controlled tail action without letting it get out of hand. With this and the communicative tight suspension results in a wide breadth of rear-axle control, no squirreliness and little snap.

Outside of a little airstrip gymkhana, it’s super expressive on a twisty backroad. Thanks to the coilovers, the GT can bite down and drag itself around a curve aggressively, and the all-wheel-drive power delivery rips it out at the end with amazing control.

Does it still work as a wagon?

Oh for sure! None of the utility is compromised by all the extra performance. There’s still 19/4 cu ft of storage behind the second row, which can be expanded to 5.6 cu ft if need be. Essentially, for all the whipping around you can do with the Audi RS6 Avant GT, you can technically bring your friends and all their stuff along for a few laps around a track.

Say more about the looks!

You got it. The front end of the GT is completely bespoke, with a painted hood with sections exposing the carbon underneath. The fenders, also carbon fiber, are new, along with the bumpers, which shaves 2kg off the package.

Around back is a roof spoiler that mirrors the wing found on the 90 GTO race car, which naturally informs the red-gray-black decals. In the US, the GT is only available with these decals and in the heritage white paint. There’s no “decal-delete” option if, for some twisted reason, you wanted to hide all this hot stuff. The whole package is rounded out by white 22-inch Avus wheels and red brake calipers.

On the inside, there’s carbon fiber accents, the appropriate GT badging, and a number plate showing off which of the 660 models you managed to scoop up.

How many are coming stateside?

Out of the 660, only 85 are destined for the US. So if you’re interested, get on the horn with your local Audi person pronto and start asking nicely. Pricing hasn’t been announced but Audi has told Top Gear to expect the starting price to be “under $200,000.”

Not only will these 85 be exclusive, they’ll also be unique from the European models in a number of ways. For starters, the Euro-spec GTs have four optional colors that we won’t get: Chronos Gray, Nardo Gray, Madeira Brown, and Mythos Black. There are also gray and black decals to match the darker tones.

Our Audi RS6 Avant GTs also come with adjustable sport seats rather than the bucket seats available in the others. There are also a handful of interior touches that betray if it's a US or Euro model.

What’s your takeaway?

The Audi RS6 Avant GT is a thrilling modern sports car that goes around corners so fast, you’ll forget you’re in a full-on family utility vehicle. The unique bodywork makes the GT look equally aggressive and the performance tweaks means it can walk the walk, too. All of this is made all the better by the race car-inspired visuals, giving it that extra bit of flavor and a touch of retro attitude. As far as 80s hits go, this is a darn good modern cover of a stone cold classic.

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