- Dynamic styling and V8 performance to match
- Full estate-car practicality but with all the added excitement of a high-performance car
- Beautifully crafted interior and packed with technology
- High price-tag and expensive running costs
- All that power, but nowhere to drive it to the max
- Noisy start-up will see you drop rapidly from the neighbour’s Christmas card lists
The Audi RS 6 Avant is now in its fourth generation and each new incarnation simply gets better. The latest version somehow gains even more power and includes mild hybrid technology for cleaner, more efficient motoring.
It’s hard to believe a vehicle that has estate-car styling can drive so well and customers can choose from three versions called, RS 6 Avant costing £96,910, RS 6 Carbon Fibre priced at £104,810 and RS 6 Vorsprung with a £114,310 price-tag. There is also all manner of options that can be introduced, but the costs will rise quite quickly.
All models are powered by a blisteringly quick 4.0-litre, V8 petrol engine delivering 600PS and 800Nm of torque.
On The Road
Powering the RS 6 Avant is a twin-turbo, eight-cylinder, 4.0-litre, TFSI petrol engine with state-of-the-art efficiency that includes 48-volt mild-hybrid technology and cylinder-on-demand technology. This unit delivers 600PS and 800Nm of torque which translates into performance figures that make interesting reading with a 0-62mph sprint time of just 3.6 seconds and top speed that is electronically-governed to 155mph.
At lower speeds, cylinders 2,3,5 and 8 are deactivated and they kick back into action seamlessly under heavier acceleration. This improves the efficiency and running costs of the RS 6 Avant.
The driver can switch through various drive modes called Efficiency, Comfort, Auto and Dynamic. In addition, there is a rather tempting button on the steering wheel that offers access to RS Modes 1 and 2. These options automatically open the RS-specific displays in the virtual cockpit and influence the handling, steering, gear shifts, suspension, all-wheel drive and even the sound levels. RS Mode 2 also deactivates the Electronic Stabilisation Control.
The eight-speed automatic gearbox is beautifully timed but you can take extra control via the steering wheel-mounted paddles and, by dropping the chunky gear lever back a notch, the Sports settings are activated.
The RS 6 Avant eats up motorway miles for fun, is agile in busier city centre settings and just loves to be unleashed on quieter B roads.
The body of the RS 6 Avant is 20mm lower than its sibling, the A6 Avant, with standard suspension. However, at speeds of 74mph and above, it is lowered by a further 10mm. But at the other end of the scale, a lift mode is available to raise the car by 20mm for driving at lower speeds. This wide range of RS sport air suspension allows the driver to select whether their journey will be geared towards comfort or performance.
The vehicle also features progressive steering which instantly makes you feel comfortable behind the wheel whatever speed you’re travelling at.
Out on the country lanes, the RS 6 Avant is grounded with confident corning and swift acceleration out of the bends. There is no sign of body sway and the steering is perfectly weighted. It’s not as aggressive to drive as rivals from Mercedes and BMW, but it does offer the all-round package.
The quattro permanent all-wheel drive has a front to rear ratio of 40:60, and if one wheel slips more torque automatically goes to the axle with better traction. Up to 70 per cent can be channelled to the front wheels and up to 85 per cent to the rear. Together with the wheel-selective torque control, the RS 6 Avant corners superbly at speed with excellent traction, stability and dynamics.
The Audi RS 6 Avant is a car that grabs the attention of bystanders wherever it passes thanks to its muscular, sporty styling. Apart from the front doors, roof and tailgate, the exterior comprises exclusively RS-specific parts with 21-inch wheels complete with flared arches that add 40mm to the width of the car compared to the A6 Avant.
It is one of the first models to feature the German carmaker’s new RS design language with front headlights adopted from the A7 that are slimmer and introduce RS Matrix laser headlights with darkened trims. There is a three-dimensional honeycomb grille finished in gloss black and a new RS bumper that extends to the headlights – taking inspiration from the R8 supercar.
The dynamic rear-end consists a roof edge spoiler, RS bumper with rear diffuser and lots of gloss black trimmings, along with twin oval chrome-coloured tailpipes.
The interior is premium quality through and through with black leather upholstered RS sports seats with honeycomb stitching and RS embossing. The flat-bottomed steering wheel features larger aluminium shift paddles and there are RS and RS 6 logos throughout the cabin. When you open either the front or rear doors, the Audi emblem is projected onto the road.
Occupants are well protected from road surface and any wind noise, but the engine note is really loud when you start the ignition. The level of noise can be tempered depending on the driving mode, but it is a hint at the power at your disposal every time the car starts up.
Special mention too for the suspension system that does a superb job of smoothing out the road surfaces, unless the car is being driven in Dynamic mode where the system hardens up and you do feel more connected to bumps and dips along the way.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
With fully powered seats and a fully adjustable sports steering wheel, finding that perfect driving position inside the RS 6 Avant takes just a matter of seconds and there are memory options to store your favourite settings.
The cockpit is driver orientated with a three-dimensional structure, sleek panels and a user interface that is simple to operate on the fly. The main touchscreen is where you set up the likes of the media, navigation and car settings.
Then there is a completely separate control panel for all the climate control settings which is well thought out. There’s nothing worse than having to navigate a drop down menu just to adjust the temperature.
The digital display behind the steering wheel offers all the regular information as well as some RS-specific features such as g-force, lap times and lots of performance-related data.
Despite sitting fairly low to the ground, the driver visibility is good and the pedals line up perfectly. It feels like the cockpit has been specifically designed for you – it’s that good.
Other creature comforts included 4-zone deluxe air conditioning, heated and ventilated seats, full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, Bluetooth and DAB radio.
Space & Practicality
Despite the exhilarating performance capabilities of the Audi RS 6 Avant, the vehicle ticks all the right boxes when it comes to practicality too with a boot that’s large enough to swallow a couple of fully-sized suitcases and lots of additional soft bags for a family holiday.
The powered tailgate opens nice and high and there is a wide boot opening for loading awkwardly-shaped items. The capacity of 565 litres increases to 1,680 litres with the 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat and there is a boot net and a couple of side compartments to prevent goods rolling around.
In addition, there is a host of options for storing items throughout the cabin, including a lockable glovebox, door bins, a fairly shallow central cubby box where the USB ports and wireless charging pad are located, nets in the front seat backs, front cup holders and two more in the rear fold-down armrest, along with a small tray.
There is room for two adults to sit comfortably in the back of the car, or three if they don’t mind rubbing shoulders. The space would be just fine for three teenagers though.
The RS 6 Avant is a large vehicle measuring just shy of five metres in length so you will need a larger parking bay, but squeezing into a tight space is made simpler by the Parking Assistance pack which is part of the optional Comfort & Sound Pack (costing £2,295) and will help identify a suitable space and automatically park the car for you.
Audi is a premium manufacturer so expect high-end prices, especially if you are tempted to add a raft of optional extras. Our test car started life costing £96,910, but the introduction of an RS sport exhaust system, Comfort & Sound pack, plus towbar with manual and swivel settings meant the final price was just over the £100k.
Although the introduction of the 48-volt mild hybrid technology does improve the efficiency and running costs, you can still expect regular trips to the filling station as the RS 6 Avant delivers a combined 22.6mpg with carbon emissions of 283g/km. Drive the car in RS Mode and that fuel economy figure will drop quite dramatically.
The CO2 figure would result in a first year Vehicle Excise Duty cost of £2,245 which would be reduced to £155 after that. However, the bills don’t end there as all cars costing more than £40k have an additional surcharge called a Premium Rate. This applies from the second year and costs £335 extra for five years.
The insurance rating for the high-performance Audi RS 6 Avant is group 50.
Quality & Reliability
Despite the fact that Audi often performs quite poorly when it comes to customer satisfaction surveys, the premium carmaker has upped its game and worked tirelessly to address any issues in recent models.
And although the fourth-generation RS 6 Avant has not really been around long enough for problems to be raised, it certainly looks and feels like it will survive the test of time.
The black Valcona leather upholstery is very well constructed and all the switchgear is designed with durability in mind. The chunky, grab-handle gearstick and thick, flat-bottomed steering wheel are pure class and the touchscreens are easily wiped clean of any mucky fingerprints.
The car comes with Audi’s three year, 60,000-mile warranty.
Safety & Security
Audi has an excellent reputation for developing safe, secure cars that protect occupants and pedestrians alike with a wealth of on-board driver assist systems fitted as standard.
And, although the RS 6 Avant has not been crash-tested, it gains the same maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating awarded to the A6 Avant when it was tested.
Safety systems include lane departure warning, Audi pre-sense front, cruise control with speed limiter, camera-based road sign recognition, Isofix child seat mountings, tyre pressure monitoring and a full suite of airbags.
The car also features Audi’s superb Matrix LED headlights, which offer excellent lighting of the road ahead without dazzling oncoming motorists.
And the quattro all-wheel-drive system will keep you moving when Mother Nature has an unexpected mood swing as it copes effortlessly with more challenging weather and driving conditions.
There is an excellent alarm system and immobiliser to keep intruders at bay.