Parkers overall rating: 4.8 out of 5 4.8
  • Headline figures: 600hp and 800Nm
  • Hugely impressive acceleration
  • It retains the old RS6's twin-turbo V8

For a little while we were wondering exactly what would power the RS 6 - the downsizing trend is now all encompassing and more than ever performance cars (including larger Porsches) are turning to plug-in hybrid technology to deliver the needed power. That's not saying anything about the fact that Audi itself now uses a diesel engine in its warmed-up S4, S6, S7 and SQ5.

Thankfully we needn't have worried - the RS 6 remains an enthusiast's choice thanks to its 4.0-litre, twin-turbocharged petrol V8. And what a thing it is.

Petrol engine only

Maximum power is 600hp and 800Nm of neck-straining torque, which in real-world terms means that you won't need to work very hard to make it go fast. Very fast. The 0-62mph time is 3.6 seconds and it'll get to 124mph in just 12 seconds. To put that into perspective, it'll take the same amount of time to hit 124mph as a Suzuki Swift gets to 60mph. Top speed is electronically governed at 155mph, although various de-limit options will see that raised to 189mph.

The 4.0-litre TFSI used in this car delivers a simply brilliant V8 soundtrack, which can be tailored by whatever Drive Mode is selected. It's not a brutal, race-track bred roar like you get in an AMG car, but rather a bassy and fullsome bellow that sounds purposeful enough without absolutely dominating the driving experience. Revved out to the relatively low redline it takes on a bit more of a howl but there's so much power low down you don't have to stretch it unless you want to.

Audi RS 6 Avant 2020 driving front three quarters red

The RS 6 couldn't escape at least a small bit of electrification, in the form of a 48v mild-hybrid system that we've detailed more fully in the running costs section. This allows energy to be recuperated under braking to be deployed in the form of coasting along engine-free at times of low-load, plus there's cylinder-on-demand, which shuts half the block down when it's not needed.

One gearbox and drivetrain

All that power gets fed to all four wheels and eight-speed tiptronic automatic gearbox and Quattro all-wheel drive. While the transmission has been fettled to help deal with all the extra torque and to speed up its shifting (a bit of a bugbear in the old car) it's still not dual-clutch fast like the gear changes you get in an RS 3, for example.

Handling

  • Huge grip from Quattro all-wheel drive
  • Massive cornering stability with steel suspension
  • Rear wheel steering trims your line for you

Put simply this RS 6 is a revelation compared to the old car, which felt numb and didn't communicate its limits particularly well, making it hard to drive to them and exploit the maximum potential of what was a very grippy chassis. Also hindering that ability was the fact it was a heavy and large car, and the necessary space to enjoy its breadth of talent was not easy to come by in the UK.

Audi RS 6 Avant 2020 gear shifter

Some of those things obviously haven't changed (this one's even wider) but it's now much more fun at lower speeds and easy to nudge up against its limits without finding yourself in world of howling tyres. Partly that's down to a steering set up that paints a much clearer picture of what it's up to (although it's still too light in heft) and some clever tech at work too.

The Quattro system in this car features a mechanical centre differential to help put power where it's needed - up to 70% can be channelled to the front wheels and 85% to the rears - plus a standard-fit RS limited slip differential on the rear axle can move power from left to right. European cars get a similar system that uses the brakes on each wheel (and isn't as good) as standard, while paying extra for the diff.

Rear-wheel steering borrowed from the standard A6 helps tuck the car into a bend by making both axles work together, rather than the rear of the car simply being dragged along behind. At low speed the wheels move opposite to the fronts, making it feel like the back end of the car is swinging out and reducing the turning circle, while at higher speeds they move in the same direction, aiding stability.

Two suspension options

Undoubtedly though the biggest shift in the way the RS 6 handles is between the two suspension options - an air set up that comes as standard and offers a more comfortable ride, plus the option to lift and lower the height of the car, and a more focused adaptive steel chassis.

The latter is very firm indeed in its highest performance mode but enables this two tonne estate to handle with incredible agility. Time will tell whether this version of the RS 6 is simply too harsh for UK roads, but if you want the ultimate in cornering performance, it's the only one to have.

Whichever way you slice it though the RS 6 has been given a new lease of life thanks to a big injection of driving enjoyment - no longer the blunt (but arguably very effective) instrument in the market, it's now great fun to hustle along a twisty road as well.

Audi RS 6 Avant 2020 driving rear three quarters red