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Audi RS6 Avant | review

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    The new RS6 is Audi's most powerful model. Photo credit: Malcolm Flynn Photo Gallery

Malcolm Flynn road tests and reviews the new Audi RS6 at its Australian launch

Audi RS6 4.5

gallery Let’s get the numbers out of the way first: 412kW, 700Nm, 3.9 seconds and -- if you tick the right options box -- 305km/h. Those are the big stats on the RS6 that, when it arrives locally in October, will be the most powerful Audi in the line-up.

And that’s with a brick-like wagon body – the only choice we get in the new RS6 – so you can shift furniture with it too. Moving house has never been so much fun.

VALUE

At $225,000, it’s nearly triple the price of the entry $81,800 A6 2.0 TFSI Avant, but you’d need to spend $366,900 on the 386kW/530Nm R8 V10 Coupe to better the RS6’s acceleration with a 3.6 second 0-100km/h figure.

The RS6’s closest rival is the $265,145 430kW/800Nm Mercedes CLS 63 AMG S Shooting Brake, but you might also glance at the sedan-only $311,500 423kW/680Nm BMW M6 Gran Coupe with the new Competition Package and its $229,900 M5 mechanical twin.

And the RS6 all-wheel drivetrain trounces that group for acceleration, hitting 100km in that 3.9 seconds against the Merc’s 4.2 and the Beemers’ 4.1 and 4.2.  And against their prices, it’s a value buy, if you’re at that end of the market.

It’s lavishly equipped with everything you could want under a powered panoramic glass roof, but in true Audi fashion there are plenty of chances to spend more. The standard Bose audio not enough? Splash $12,000 on some Bang & Olufsen kit. Fancy stronger anchors? Grab the options pack with carbon ceramic brakes, coil springs with adaptive shocks, variable ratio steering and that 305km/h speed limiter extension for $25,840 – or about the price of a VW Polo GTI.

DESIGN

In RS tradition, the wheel arches are pumped – and house 21-inch monsters -- the twin exhausts are firehose-sized and the gaping front maw looks ready to munch on any supercar pretenders that appear in the angry glare of full-LED headlights.

The cabin carries five in the menacing luxury of honeycomb-quilted black leather, set off by hardcore carbon fibre and aluminium fittings. But it will also freight a hefty 1680 litres of cargo with the back seats folded, and tow 2100kg -- mocking the triviality of conventional supercars.

ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION

The newcomer has lost 14kW but gained 50Nm over the last RS6 we saw here three years ago with a twin-turbo 5.0 litre V10. But the return brings a similarly twin-boosted 4.0-litre V8 that shaves 0.7 secs off the 100km/h sprint, and 30 per cent off the fuel burn. It claims 9.8L/100km – helped by a 100kg drop in weight, stop-start and cylinder deactivation (with active engine mounts to counter the sleeping cylinders).

So yes, it may be less powerful, but it’s lighter, quicker and far more fuel-efficient -- and without an electric motor or high-tech diesel in sight. The twin-turbos nestle within the engine’s ‘V’ (like the Beemer M5/M6) for responsiveness and thermal efficiency, which also gets a leg-up from nine individual radiators and six separate coolant pumps. Direct injection meticulously blends boosted air and fuel to the point where the RS6’s 700Nm torque peak is available all the way across a battle-ready 1750-5500rpm.

Unlike most current performance Audis, the transmission is not a dual-clutch S-tronic unit, but rather a version of the ZF eight-speed torque converter unit used elsewhere by Audi, and a litany of other manufacturers to great effect. In RS6 guise, it’s paired with the same array of shift modes, manual selection and paddle shifters we’ve come to expect from modern performance autos. The quattro all-wheel drive system splits drive 40/60 front-rear under normal conditions, but can send up to 70 per cent to either end when needed, thanks to the standard sports differential.

SAFETY

The RS6 backs up its performance potential with a long list of safety features, including dual front airbags, side airbags front and rear, and full-length curtain airbags. There’s also ABS, traction and stability control, with the $10,375 packaged option of pedestrian-detecting night vision, active lane and side assist, active cruise control and driver alert, and a self-parking system.

DRIVING

Our Northern Territory test route had the lure of the current highest legal speed in the land: 130km/h -- barely half the RS6’s top speed capability in standard guise, but it was the closest thing to a German autobahn on offer. Therefore, the usually annoying stops for driver swaps, photography and bladder draining gave us several chances to legally storm from 0-130km/h, revelling in the ease in which the RS6 picks up its skirts and gets going.

Even from idle, the engine ignites as though it were triple its capacity and dumps its outputs into the 285 section rubber on each corner. Stomp and steer performance in the extreme. We went out of our way to give the 390mm six-piston standard brakes a good guernsey from 130km/h too, and they were well up to the task of stopping the 2010kg RS6 from those speeds. 

Australian-spec RS6s come standard with the sports exhaust that’s still optional in Europe. Tootling about at carpark speeds produces a guttural purr, warning of its presence. Accelerate, and it erupts into a solid V8 blast, then settles to a subdued rumble at cruising speeds. On overrun, the exhaust cackle is satisfyingly naughty.

At a steady 130km/h, the engine trickles along in the dash-indicated four cylinder mode, and reawakens the other four cylinders with no perceptible delay. With the Audi Drive Select system set on full comfort, our test car’s standard adaptive air suspension disguised that we were riding on the 30 profile rubber on some very remote outback roads, despite the reminder of regular cattle grids.  

As aggressive and Lambo-like as the seats may appear, they’re still broad and gentle enough to cosset real humans over long distances. Flicking the Drive Select over to Dynamic tightens up the steering assistance and throttle response, stiffens the suspension, and incites more aggressive shift behaviour. This shifts the RS6’s personality to proper aggro, but it was pointless on our relatively straight and flat journey across the outback. The dynamic settings would no doubt be a real hoot over a mountain pass, when you could dip into the RS6’s potential for personality change.

VERDICT

If there’s one word to describe the RS6, its 'easy.' It’s very easy on the eye, easy to extract its monstrous performance potential, and easy to drive every day, over long distances. For Audi’s fastest RS so far to cloak its brutality in such smooth civility is a double-edged indulgence, and a sharp one at that. But with our nanny speed limits, you’re missing out on the true edge of the RS6’s engineering. 

This reporter is on Twitter: @Mal_Flynn

 

AUDI RS6 AVANT

Price: $225,000
Warranty: 3 years/unlimited, roadside assist
Capped servicing: No
Service interval: 12mths/15,000km
Safety: 10 airbags, ABS, ESC, EBD, TC
Crash rating: TBC
Engine: 4-litre V8 twin-turbo petrol, 412kW/700Nm
Transmission: 8-spd auto; constant AWD
Thirst: 9.8L/100km; 98RON; 229g/km CO2
Dimensions: 5.0m (L), 1.9m (W), 1.5m (H)
Weight: 2010kg
Spare: spacesaver


RIVALS

Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 - see other verdicts

Price: from $265,145  (CLS 63 AMG S Shooting Brake)

Engine: 5.5-litre, V8 bi-turbo petrol, 430kW/800Nm

Transmission: 7-speed automatic, RWD

Thirst: 10.3L/100km

BMW M6 Gran Coupe - see other verdicts

Price: from $311,500 (Competition Pack)

Engine: 4.4-litre, V8 bi-turbo petrol, 423kW/680Nm

Transmission: 7-spd dual-clutch auto; RWD

Thirst: 9.9L/100km

BMW M5 - see other verdicts

Price: from $229,900

Engine: 4.4-litre, V8 bi-turbo petrol, 423kW/680Nm

Transmission: 7-spd dual-clutch auto; RWD

Thirst: 9.9L/100km

 

Comments on this story

Displaying 1 of 1 comments

  • Excellent review, it’s good to mix it with the specs of the competition vehicles, to give a balanced and informative report card.

    Topgun of ACT Posted on 31 July 2013 3:14pm

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