New Audi RS 6 Avant 2019 review

26 Nov, 2019 5:00pm Adam Towler

The flagship Audi RS 6 Avant estate could well cover all your performance and practicality needs

Verdict

4
The RS 6 already has a reputation as being one of Audi’s ultimate all-rounders, but the company has successfully broadened the appeal of the car with this new generation. It doesn’t come cheap, but those people who can afford one will get a beguiling mix of supercar performance with limousine-like refinement and useable space. If there’s one car to do it all, then this may just be it.

The RS 6 is undoubtedly one of Audi’s flagship models. It’s the car that best represents the blend of performance, style and practicality that the brand has often executed so well, and which has made its fast estates the stuff of legend.

Based on the eighth-generation A6 Avant, the new RS 6 looks familiar in concept. It’s powered by a twin-turbo V8 engine, connected to an eight-speed auto gearbox and sending drive to all four wheels via Audi’s quattro system. But a number of new technologies have been applied to increase the car’s performance and breadth of capability, while keeping it within the latest legislative framework for emissions.

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The 4.0-litre V8 engine now features larger turbochargers that contribute to the headline figures of 592bhp and 800Nm of torque, enough to blast this large estate car weighing in excess of two tonnes from 0-62mph in just 3.6 seconds. As standard, the RS 6’s top speed is limited to the usual 155mph, but for an additional £1,550 Audi will raise that to 174mph, or even 189mph if the optional carbon-ceramic brakes are fitted (more on them shortly).

The V8 runs a 48-volt mild-hybrid system that enables the car to coast out of gear to save fuel, while the engine can also run on just four cylinders to further boost economy.

But it’s the way the RS 6 drives that’s the real attraction, even if the added efficiency is welcome. That also applies to the general refinement, which for all the aggression suggested by the huge air intakes, massive 21 or 22-inch alloys and wider wheelarches, is actually very impressive.

The V8 may fire up with a sinister crackle, but in normal driving it’s subdued, and in spite of the size of the car’s wheels, the ride comfort is nowhere near as harsh as you might expect, although we must wait to test it in the UK for a definitive opinion.

Here there is a choice; the standard suspension features air springs, which Audi says give the best ride comfort. A £1,300 option (but standard-fit on top-spec Vorsprung models) is Dynamic Ride Control (DRC), which uses conventional coil springs and adaptive dampers, and is labelled as the more sporting choice.

We tried both configurations, and while the air-sprung car does give a mildly more soothing ride in normal driving, it’s when the RS 6 is equipped with DRC that it really maximises its potential. The steering is precise and, while light in the hands, it feels natural to work with. And for such a heavy car, its agility is astounding. Traction out of corners is almost total, but the DRC-equipped RS 6 never feels flat-footed, behaving almost like a rear-wheel-drive car at times.

Those ceramic brakes may be a £9,200 option, but they show no sign of wilting, even under extreme use. The 34kg weight saving they bring is handy, too.

And when the RS 6 is on a charge, it really lunges for the horizon, V8 roaring and the numbers on the digital speedo increasing in a blur. The more sporting driver modes can now be stored under RS1 and RS2 settings, which are accessed via the steering wheel.

The rest of the RS 6 package is predictably alluring. It’s spacious and comfortable, full of Audi’s latest safety and infotainment tech and fancy black-panel screens. And the A6 Avant body offers a useful load area of up to 1,680 litres if you fold down the rear seats.

Prices begin at £89,900 for the standard car, rising to £97,800 for the Carbon Black model and £106,400 for the Vorsprung edition. True, it’s a lot of money for an estate car, but then, the RS 6 is an awful lot of car.

Key specs

  • Model: Audi RS 6 Avant
  • Price: £89,900
  • Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8
  • Power/torque: 592bhp/800Nm
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 3.6 seconds
  • Top speed: 155mph
  • Economy/CO2: 22.6mpg/263g/km
  • On sale: Now