Brad Leach road tests and reviews the 2014 Audi RS6 Avant, with specs, fuel economy and verdict.
There are station wagons and there’s the Audi RS 6 Avant – an all-wheel-drive, autobahn shredding twin-turbo V8-powered muscle-car in the finest German tradition.
Audi RS 6 Avant Overview
Audi’s RS 6 Avant returns to Australia is its latest version priced from $225,000. The previous generation (2008 to 2010) was a landmark car for high-performance European wagon buyers and racked-up some 65 sales.
Numbers are limited for what is the ultimate vehicle of its type now that ‘Benz is no longer bringing the Estate version of the E63 AMG ‘downunder’. In fact the word has passed around and Audi Australia is holding orders with locals keen to get their hands on the latest RS 6 Avant.
Audi RS 6 Avant Engine
Wow! Here’s 4.0-litres of twin-turbocharged V8 German excellence – the whole thing, with lots of aluminium used, weighs just 224kgs.
The twin, twin-scroll turbochargers deliver up to 1.2 bar of boost and are housed inside the 90-degree ‘V’ of the cylinder banks. The twin-scroll technology sees the exhaust gas of every two cylinders flowing to the turbine wheel via separate exhaust ports for instantaneous response.
Best of all, Australian specification engines score the RS sport exhaust system as standard and there’s sound flaps fitted for an even more raucous noise under load – brilliant!
And there’s also fuel-saving cylinder de-activation so on light loads the Audi RS 6 Avant runs as a four-cylinder.
Maximum power of 412kW is delivered between 1750rpm and 6600rpm and peak torque of 700Nm arrives from 1,750rpm.
Drive to the Quattro all-wheel-drive system is via an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission with shorter shift times and a Dynamic Shift Program with sport mode.
So zero to 100km/h is in the supercar league at 3.9 seconds and combined cycle fuel consumption is rated at 9.8l/100kms – that’s 30 per-cent better than the previous generation.
Audi RS 6 Avant The Interior
Audio system speakers don’t normally rate highly on our feature list but the Bang & Olufsen system in our Audi RS 6 Avant test car caught our attention every time we started the engine. Rising from the dashboard directly under the A-pillars were two minute speakers which – for want of a better word – look like miniature models of the Star Trek starship ‘U.S. Enterprise’…brilliant.
Also catching your eye as soon as you open the doors of the Audi RS 6 Avant were the seats – finished in honeycomb-quilted Valcona leather for an unusual look. Our test car ran the black interior but lunar silver is also available and naturally they’re RS sports seats with integrated head-rests and prominent side bolsters for rapid cornering.
In fact, not surprisingly, it’s RS everywhere you look inside this car (even the double-bar design door openers – an Audi RS staple). That also means the glorious flat-bottom RS steering wheel (in perforated leather) and RS instrumentation.
Our test car ran standard carbon inlays which look sporty (high-gloss piano black and aluminium/Beaufort also available).
There’s also digital TV reception, DAB plus radio, a panoramic glass sunroof and a brilliant 360-degree camera system (get close to the car in front when parking and the view automatically switches to that camera).
Rear seat accommodation caters for three and there’s a very handy max of 1680-litres for luggage with a clever in-built rail system to secure items.
Audi RS 6 Avant Exterior & Styling
As we know, Audi is into aluminium big-time so it’s no surprise 20 per-cent of the latest RS 6 body is aluminium (including front fenders, doors, bonnet and tailgate). All-up it’s around 100kgs lighter than the previous generation.
Those fenders, wheel arches and side sills are all larger and combine with the ‘flat-ish’ D-pillars and relatively small glasshouse to provide the hallmark Audi RS look which we all love.
Our RS 6 test car was fitted with the optional carbon styling package so the massive (and very low) front splitter and the massive rear diffuser with large vertical fins were black. And our test car was painted ‘Misano Red’ – and while normally you think of high-performance German cars in silver or white (red is normally for the Italians) we must say the RS 6 Avant’s red paint was nicely offset by the abundant black (including the 21-inch alloy wheels) and it looked stunning.
Of course the front-end look is unique and sporty – again with the Audi RS honeycomb grille – while the rear sees the large RS roof spoiler, shaded tail-lights and angular bumpers. Integral with the rear diffuser are possibly the largest exhaust pipes we’ve seen on a passenger wagon - alluding to the supercar performance of the Audi RS 6 Avant.
At 4,979mm in overall length and with a wheelbase of 2,915mm, the Audi RS 6 Avant is of course a mid-size European wagon.
Audi RS 6 Avant On The Road
In the same way as operation of the Airbus A380 is considerably more complex than a two-seat Cessna, there’s a degree of complexity to the Audi RS 6 Avant. The fire-breathing V8 erupts into life instantaneously (like an F1 car) and of course you watch those tiny Bang & Olufsen speakers rise beneath the A-pillars.
But then you must select your drive mode via the Audi Drive Select system (helped by excellent graphics in that centre console screen). And when you head in a sporty direction with those settings, be prepared for sports car-like firmness (as demanded by a car with this much performance).
In fact the RS adaptive air suspension lowers the RS 6 Avant by 20mm and the Audi Drive Select system also covers the operation of the sport differential.
And part of that firmness are those massive 21-inch wheels, but combine them with the Quattro all-wheel-drive excellence and this thing just hangs on and hangs on even when hit with the most audacious use of the throttle.
In damp conditions over our high-speed mountain roads test loop, swapping gear ratios manually, the Audi RS 6 Avant was shrieking with that 412kW/700Nm 4.0-litre V8 doing its thing all the way beyond 6000rpm. Aided by Quattro, we can’t think of any other wagon which would have done a better job.
It was just ridiculously fast, precise, balanced and safe – just a smidge of understeer when do venture to the limit.
Want to rapidly merge onto the freeway to head home? Boom! – just nail the throttle in the Audi RS 6 Avant and again another eruption of performance.
Want to cruise down the freeway to your holiday destination? No problem – just dial-up your desired chassis settings and the Audi RS 6 Avant burbles along with refinement and luxury to spare.
Want to park in the city? Well that 360-degree camera sure helps but just be careful because the front splitter is low and ‘curbing’ one of those beautiful 21-inch wheels will reduce Audi fans to a blubbering mess.
Audi RS 6 Avant Challenges
Adaptive cruise control is brilliant technology and Audi’s system is better than most. Curiously for the RS 6 Avant, it’s in the $5,300 ‘Assistance System’ option (which also includes ‘Stop & Go’, and active lane assist).
Audi RS 6 Avant Verdict
Car Showroom doesn’t hand-out the maximum five-star rating lightly and there’s no need to be coy here – the Audi RS 6 Avant is one of the best cars we’ve driven. Here’s the thing – when you’re spending $225,000 on a high-performance European wagon you expect serious bragging rights and the Audi RS 6 delivers by the bucket load.
Acceleration and noise from that twin-turbo V8 is astonishing but just as impressive is the poise, grip and balance of the chassis and of course Quattro all-wheel-drive. All technology of course – but to a level most have never experienced.
Looks are brilliant German supercar and the sumptuous interior is in the ‘to-die-for’ league.
Of all the Volkswagen Group brands, Audi is right at the top of its game these days and the RS 6 Avant, like the RS5, SQ5 - and of course the R8 – are all leaving many rivals in their wheeltracks.
Audi RS 6 Avant The Competition
The good news is Mercedes-Benz has just launched the updated E 63 AMG S with its wonderful 430kW/800Nm twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8. The bad news is the wagon version is no longer part of the local lineup.
So that leaves the Audi RS 6 Avant with no directly comparable rivals.