Frankly, Audi RS6 Avant performance is breath-taking. The sole petrol engine available has been down-sized over the previous RS6, but at 4.0 litres in capacity it really isn’t all that small. Thanks to twin turbochargers it generates 553bhp towards the top of the rev range. It also makes 700Nm of torque between 1,750 and 5,500rpm, which means the dash to 62mph takes just 3.9 seconds.
When you press the throttle to the floor the engine screams and you’re sling-shot towards the horizon with unrelenting ferocity. There’s a momentary pause as the gearbox changes ratios and then the same angry noise continues.
Handling the gearing is an eight-speed automatic gearbox which can be operated manually using the paddle-shifters located behind the steering wheel. There’s no manual option available.
Driver can adjust performance
Audi’s Drive Select system is on hand to change the characteristics of the car to your preferences. In Comfort mode it’s a fairly serene experience, with slightly more latent gear changes and a lazier engine characteristic.
Choosing Dynamic means everything is sharpened – throttle response is on a knife edge and the gearbox swaps its cogs incredibly quickly. Driving fast in this mode is incredibly rewarding, but beware – your fuel economy will suffer massively.
Individual is the other mode you may want to consider. This lets you set up your own profile with all of the characteristics you’d like, including the weighting of the steering, engine and gearbox response, suspension settings and many more besides.
Variable top speed
The RS6’s top speed depends entirely upon which boxes you tick on the options list. The standard car is electronically limited to 155mph, while specifying the Dynamic Package increases it to 174mph. For the ultimate in high-speed performance you’ll need the Dynamic Plus package, which allows for a top speed of 189mph.
On the road the RS6 Avant is a capable machine through corners. It doesn’t roll around much, turns in sharply and there’s tons of grip thanks to that Quattro four-wheel drive system.
It’s not as exciting as some rear-wheel drive rivals, however, and lacks the steering feedback enjoyed by some of its competitors too. It’s possible to change the steering wheel weighting though, which does help make the drive more engaging.
The RS6 sits on an all-new air suspension system which lowers the ride height by 20mm compared to a normal A6. It also allows the driver to select various driving modes depending on the sort of driving they’re doing. Using Audi’s Drive Select you can flick between Comfort and Dynamic settings, while Individual will allow you to dial in exactly the parameters you prefer.
Available as an optional extra, you can also specify Sports Suspension Plus with Dynamic Ride Control. This set-up uses conventional steel springs and oil-filled shocks which are linked diagonally front-to-rear via oil lines, which provides a very stable ride through corners thanks to the communication between the two sides of the car.
To slow you down, Audi has fitted huge brakes as standard and also offers the option of carbon fibre-ceramic brakes for the ultimate in stopping power. The latter will cost several thousand pounds, but having tested it we were very impressed, both by how effective they were and how progressive the pedal feel was. Carbon-ceramic brakes are often very ‘grabby’, but these didn’t seem to suffer that affliction.