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Specification:
RS6 Avant Launch Edition
Engine:
4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, 592bhp, 590lb ft
Claimed MPG:
22.6mpg, 263g/km CO2
Performance:
0-62mph in 3.6sec, 155mph
Weight:
2075kg
Price:
£98,050 / £101,700 as tested / £1,158pcm

We recently did a big group test between the Audi RS6, Mercedes-AMG E63 S and Alpina B5. You’ll see it soon, but there was a reason the RS6 in that test was a Nardo Grey car rather than this Navarra Blue one we’re running long-term. It drove better. 

I had both RS6s at home for a bit and it was as fascinating for me as it was puzzling for my neighbours. The grey car was vastly higher spec than my Launch Edition car, but that wasn’t the point and the only things I’d really have liked from it were the Alcantara steering wheel and keyless locking. Oh, and the carbon brakes. And the DRC suspension. Now we’re getting somewhere. This blue RS6 is a Launch Edition and features the standard air suspension. It’s fixed now. You might remember that when parked up for a few days the front lost pressure and went all low rider on me. It’s now got a new left front suspension unit under warranty and the problem’s gone. Anyway, grey car had Audi’s RS Sport Suspension Plus with Dynamic Ride Control. No air compression here, but conventional springs and dampers, but with the dampers diagonally hydraulically linked. McLaren uses a similar system for the 720S. It’s a bargain at £1300, when the carbon brakes are just £300 shy of ten grand. 

Yeah, I’d have swapped. The DRC car is just that bit sharper and has more natural dynamics – as I reminded myself a few days later. With the grey car gone, I was off for a break in North Wales, travelling up separately to my family with just bike and paddleboard for company. I spoke to Paul Horrell on the journey up, who was currently three up with three bikes and all the camping kit in his new i3S, and probably soon to need a charger. My trip was less stressful. Because churning through distance is what the RS6 does supremely well – better than any other super saloon. Reassuring background rumble from the V8, easy Carplay integration for simple podcast and nav selections, lovely air sprung ride. It even tiptoed up towards an indicated 26mpg (which means an accurate 25mpg – it reliably reads 1mpg over). 

Did the necessary while up there: no complaints from the family on getting back into it after a long hike in the Carneddau mountains, enough legroom to give cramping muscles space to stretch and broadly admired on the campsite. And then the journey home. Boy was I looking forward to this. Solo again, everything strapped down tight – been too long since I drove across a good swathe of great roads. 

It was rapid and so capable, lovely thumping engine, astonishing stability and control – just too big and too heavy to be genuinely thrilling. The standard brakes have too much travel, the eight speed auto isn’t snappy enough, and unless you keep the revs above 4,000rpm, you’ll get some turbo lag coming out of corners. Those things are true no matter which suspension you have. But have the DRC – the trade off on ride comfort is minimal as the conventional dampers are still adaptive, and the signals and sensations are less muffled, so it feels a bit sharper in your hands. But still, there’s not much amiss with Big Blue here: easy cruise up, fun drive down and no sheep harmed. That counts as a successful trip in my book. 

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