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Audi RS6 Avant
Audi RS6 Avant.
Not only is the new Audi RS6 faster, lighter and more environmentally-friendly than the model it replaces, it also promises to be significantly cheaper when it lands in Australia later this year.
On sale in November and available only as a wagon – or Avant, in Audi-speak – the new RS6 will be priced at around $230,000, or some $30,000 less than the model which was last sold here in 2010.
Like its BMW and AMG rivals, the performance flagship of the A6 range is now powered by a twin-turbo V8 instead of the previous Lamborghini-sourced V10, which has been ditched in an effort to save fuel.
Any notion that the new Audi RS6 may have lost some of its sizzle by being downgraded by two cylinders is dispelled pretty much from the moment the new engine fires to life.
The 4.0-litre V8 has a deep and throbbing note that crescendos to an angry roar as revs rise and the exhaust pops and crackles during gear changes or when the driver backs off the throttle. Clearly, the RS6 has lost none of its bark.
Its bite has also been strengthened despite the V8 developing slightly less power than the V10. With 412kW on tap and a mighty 700Nm of torque the new engine is far from under-nourished but extensive use of aluminium in the body and other components has reduced weight and improved performance.
Audi claims the RS6 will hit 100km/h from standstill in just 3.9 seconds or faster than either the M5 or E63 (the E63 four-wheel-drive that won’t be sold here hits the same mark in 3.6 seconds). Fuel consumption of 9.8 litres per 100km is achieved by a number of measures including auto stop-start and cylinder deactivation that sees the engine running as a V4 when maximum power is not required.
At full noise the RS6 is limited to a top speed of 260km/h but owners can opt to have the restrictor eased to allow a 305km/h maximum velocity. That possibly makes sense on German autobahns but Audi will also offer the increased top speed option to Australian buyers as an option packaged with ceramic brakes, presumably as a way to win pub arguments against BMW owners rather than for use on the road or race track.
Speaking of which, Audi says the new RS6 is 20 seconds quicker around the Nurburgring’s challenging north circuit that is used as a benchmark for testing performance cars.
On public roads there is never any doubt that the RS6 is anything other than very fast, very loud and possessed of a beguiling mixture of effortless performance than can turn brutal at the push of a pedal.
Four-wheel drive and a conventional eight-speed automatic gearbox do a good job of channelling all that horsepower to the road, negating wheelspin (or stability control activation) that might be unsettling in the Audi’s rear-drive rivals.
The lighter V8 engine is also physically smaller than the old V10, placing less weight over the front axle and providing better handling balance. Whereas the old RS6 was more comfortable accelerating on the straight bits between corners, this one inspires more confidence by pushing its front end less.
As ever, any definitive judgement on ride quality is best left to Australian roads rather than Germany’s uber-smooth tarmac, but the new air suspension seems better able to cope with bumps than the previous rigid, steel sprung model. Standard tyres are 20-inch in size with an optional 21-inch package to be offered.
The exterior features a body kit and glossy black grille to distinguish the RS6 from other A6 models, while inside there is a mixture of quilted inserts on the seats, Audi’s trademark flat-bottomed steering wheel and fairly restrained use of aluminium and gloss piano black to give the requisite sporty look.
Because it’s a wagon there’s plenty of room in the back for the labrador, but the rear seat is split into two, making the RS6 a four seater. Audi Australia is considering offering a “comfort” seating configuration as a no cost option for proper five-seat capacity.