The axing of the Sport Turismo as part of a just-announced major revamp for the Porsche Panamera is a boon for Audi: the sole in-house competitor for its hyper-estate has now been eliminated.
Power and torque boosts
The new performance (there’s an equivalent for the RS 7 Sportback too) is faster and even more powerful than the superceded RS 6 Avant. Audi has not only fitted new turbochargers, but the biturbo V8 engine’s boost pressure has been raised from 2.4 to 2.6 bar.
While capacity is still 3,993 cubic centimetres, power and torque are up by 22 kW (30 PS) and 50 Nm (37 lb-ft). Outputs are now 463 kW (630 PS) and 850 Nm (627 lb-ft). Drive to both axles is still via an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Beyond 300 km/h
Just how quick is this car? To quote Audi, “top speed limit increases to 174 mph”. This can even be raised to 189 mph as part of an optional Dynamics Package plus.
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Zero to 62 mph now takes 3.2 seconds, which is 0.2 faster, also helped by a little less sound insulation, a claimed eight kilos (now 2,090 unladen) of the stuff having been removed. That also has one other very welcome benefit: an even more thrilling tune from the tailpipes. Not that the pre-performance (the p is officially lowercase) RS 6 sounded anything but magnificent.
Can it really also return 30 mpg?
It isn’t all about bonkers speed; improved efficiency is the other byproduct of how Audi honed the RS 6 to create the performance model. Now there is a 48-volt mild hybrid electrical system, the claim being that stored energy moves the car at up to 14 mph (22 km/h). And four of those eight cylinders are deactivated when sensors decide that conditions are right, saving more fuel.
If an owner is especially gentle, almost 30 mpg is possible. Yet even while the car averaged 25.8 for me, there were times when I pressed it into single figures. The CO2 average isn’t great either, this being 286 g/km and it was a shock to see GBP2,365 listed under Road Fund licence on the press tester’s specifications sheet. Wow. Still, those who want one of these cars – and the RS 6 performance is incredibly desirable for multiple reasons – likely don’t have to worry too much about money.
Base, Black or Vorsprung
Audi markets both the RS 6 Avant and its RS 7 Sportback brother in three variants: performance, performance Carbon Black and performance Carbon Vorsprung. The base car has matte grey alloy wheels and 285/30 R22 section tyres whereas the more expensive alternatives have matte black rims. Each wheel is said to be five kilos lighter than those from the previous non-performance RS 6. There is even a claim that stopping distances are improved by up to two metres.
Playing around with the car’s electronic steering and suspension settings demonstrates just how good the dynamics of this super-estate can be. Leave it in automatic and things are relatively quiet and comfortable, though of course that fantastic engine isn’t exactly silent warming up at idle. But what a noise it is.
Coasting at up to 99 mph
Other than auto, you can also choose dynamic, comfort or efficiency via the central touchscreen. Things such as interior lightning changes with each, and there is a deliciously burbly growl when dynamic is in play. Oh, and on the topic of interior illumination, this car has that for every seatbelt buckle. Which looks cool when you unlock.
Those who want especially wild settings (think track days), have two further options: RS1 and RS2 modes. Remember I mentioned sub-10mpg being possible? Either of the RS settings can deliver that but equally, in efficiency, the engine will shut off at up to 99 mph every time your foot lifts from the throttle pedal. And it’s imperceptible when that happens, other than if you’re watching the instant MPG readout.
As well as an emphasis on an overtly sporty appearance, the inside of this car is all about luxury. That’s what buyers expect, particularly when prices are in six figures. The basic layout of the same dashboard from lesser A6 sedans and estates is there but soft leather, alcantara, double stitching and lovely-feeling plastics are everywhere.
Audi has added some little touches of blue to the traditional red and grey RS-specific detailing. It’s found on the steering wheel stitching, sides of the centre console and floor matts, along with the seat belts.
Cornering is as incredibly rapid as might be imagined and of tyre squeal there just isn’t any. On a track, things would be different but I didn’t think Audi UK would appreciate the car being returned with shredded rubber. You also have to be extra careful with kerbs (phew, no damage done on my watch) as those blistered wheel-arches and huge alloys make this a really wide car.
Compared to the A6 and S6 Avant, this could in fact be a totally different model. You can certainly see the basic estate in there underneath all the muscled flares and add-ons. There are many changes, including matte grey paint for the front spoiler, side sills, roof rails, rear diffuser and mirror caps. Certain pieces of the exterior trim (e.g. roof rails) are even darker on Carbon Black cars.
It’s a phenomenal piece of engineering and given that its successor will be electric, should be celebrated as the high point of ICE cars in the long line of RS 6 models.
As tested, the Audi RS 6 performance lists at GBP140,000 but that includes RS Ceramic brakes (GBP9,200 and a 34 kg weight saving) and a few other options on top of the price for the Carbon Vorsprung model grade. The standard car starts at GBP114,890 and there is also a mid-range Carbon Black trim level.