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580bhp in an Audi S6 Estate

Audi's S6 Avant gets an RS makeover, two turbos and a scary 580bhp.

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Audi has revealed the latest car to wear its BMW M Sport rivaling RS badge, the RS6. Making even BMW's M5's 507bhp output look puny, Audi's engineers have added two turbochargers to the S6's 5.2-litre V10 to allow it to produce a quite scary 580bhp. That boost in power enables the RS6 to reach 62mph from standstill in just 4.6 seconds (124mph possible in just 14.9 seconds), which is 0.2 seconds faster than BMW's M5 estate, and matches the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG. The chief difference between the Audi and its German rivals is that the RS6 features Audi's quattro four-wheel drive. This should allow the RS6 to use its ample power more of the time than its rear-wheel drive rivals, particularly when conditions are less than ideal.

Like its predecessor, the RS6 gets some serious under the skin revisions. Its six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission is quicker shifting and features new ratios and there's a new development of Audi's Dynamic Ride Control. It now offers three-stage selectable control allowing the driver to choose from three damper settings: comfort, dynamic and sport.

Its quattro four-wheel drive drivetrain has a torque split of 40/60 front to rear, a lighter aluminium bonnet and front wings also lessening the weight over the front wheels. On recent form the RS6 promises to be very good indeed, its smaller RS4 relative giving BMW's new M3 a real challenge for junior super-saloon/coupé honours.

Underlining its performance credentials is the RS6's ESP (Electronic Stability Programme). It has been reconfigured to intervene as late as possible. Should the driver want complete control free of electronic safety nets the ESP can also be switched off.

Its brakes have been improved too, but for optimum performance Audi offers the RS6 with optional ceramic brakes, which offer even greater performance and fade resistance.

Ensuring the RS6 stands out from its A6 relatives are a number of visual enhancements. The bumpers are more aggressively styled with larger air intakes up front and huge exhaust pipes poking out at the rear. The wings feature the most prominent RS6 styling feature though - Audi's stylists have altered the wheelarch profile with a nod to the iconic Ur-quattro of 1980.

Inside, the RS6 features the usual updates for a sporting model: deeper, heavily bolstered sports seats and extensive use of leather, Alcantara, aluminium and carbon-fibre.

The RS6 will initially be offered in Avant (estate) form, available to order in November for an early 2008 delivery. Prices have yet to be officially confirmed, but Audi UK is stating that the RS6 Avant will cost in the region of £75,000.