One thing is for sure, the Audi RS6 is the hottest and best looking station wagon on the market today. It’s one of those rare cars that looks brilliant in photos and live. Even our test car’s slightly boring wheels cannot make it look bad. Our car was white and fitted with the black optic option. It was fitted with 21-inch PQ4 black summer wheels and they would complement the color scheme perfectly. Winter conditions, however, forced our car to be equipped with studded tires and optically narrow 20-inch wheels that go far beneath the fender. Yes, in this car 20-inch wheels look like 17-inch. The test car’s LED headlights in addition to the 6 cm wider body of the RS6 in comparison to the standard A6, look magnificent live, giving it an aggressive, modern, and sporty look. In any case, the design of the Audi gets a full ten points, and it proves that spacious cars do not have to be horrific boxes.
Engine and drivability
The car we tested did not have a sport exhaust system, but after spending a few days in the car, we believe that the standard exhaust is quite sufficient. The 4.0- liter V8 TFSI engine sounds terrific when the car is started. Sound-proof windows in the RS6 keep the engine sounds outside the cockpit except for kickdowns and downshifts, which is sad. Studded winter tires are noisy and spoil what is left of the engine sound. Soundproofing, however, makes highway driving a feast, giving the driver a chance to enjoy the high-quality BOSE stereo system. We suspect this is a very comfortable place to be in especially with summer tires.
While the exterior and sounds are great, there is nothing to warn the driver of what happens when one kicks the throttle in Dynamic mode. The car accelerates powerfully immediately without any hesitation. We thought 8-speed ZF-automatic transmission would make the RS6 feel less sporty, as we had hoped it would receive Audi’s wonderful seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, but to our delight we were wrong. The automatic gearbox works well in all situations. In manual mode, the gearbox selects the desired gear immediately and in Dynamic mode shifting is seamless and incredibly fast. We were so convinced with the engine and transmission, that we put it to an ultimate test and wanted to compare its acceleration at different speeds and gears to a few years older 550 hp Porsche Panamera Turbo S, which has long been the benchmark in this class. While the Turbo S was not available, we arranged an encounter with a Panamera Turbo equipped with the Turbo S Powerkit which has the same technology as the Turbo S. To our surprise, when comparing the RS6 to a half-blooded sportscar equipped with a very quick 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, a 4.8 -liter biturbo V8 engine and winter tires, the cars were equally fast. The Porsche didn’t have studded winter tires and it offered better traction from the dig, but other than that, the cars were neck-to-neck in most situations. Taking into account that the Audi RS6 is a station wagon and a family car, the result is mind-blowing. This car is a monster!
The car’s handling is precise in all modes. The driver has a choice of Comfort, Auto and Dynamic driving modes that change the character of the car extremely efficiently. The gas response is surprisingly sensitive in all modes, but steering feel, engine sound and suspension feel vary noticeably between the various options, as it should be in a Drive Select-function like this. The car changes from a tame puppy to a raging bull in the press of a button. It should be mentioned that the car behaves in a typical civilized Audi manner in all modes and in no situation can you speak of an insane hooligan. In slippery conditions the rear-biased all-wheel-drive flips the tail easily even with studded tires and the electronic aids on. In the bends, it makes driving a hoot for the driver, and we believe in summer with the summer tires the new RS6 is a strong contrast to it’s relatively docile predecessor. Previous RS6 models were almost impossible to get easily sideways in any situation. The Drive Select menu also offers a possibility to define one’s own settings and this is the mode we used mostly during our test drive.
Our RS6 had a comprehensive list of optional equipment and it had everything we would option in this type of car. A very interesting option we would like to mention is the Audi Night Vision Assistant. We tested the accessory on small side roads, where pedestrians wear black and refuse to wear reflectors, despite the gloomy darkness. Objects are often detected by the naked eye slightly too late despite our test car’s magnificent LED-lights and the high-beam assistant, but thanks to the night vision system, items are easily spotted from a distance. On dark roads with moose and deer this option should be mandatory. Below is Audi’s demonstration video of this equipment.
Outfitted in our car were also Audi side assist and Audi active lane assist options. The low and wide car has a large blind spot and a child seat in the back seat will further enlarge it. Lane-change assistance is a huge help in that case. Audi active lane assist, in turn, is the best of it’s kind on the market. It keeps the car between the lines up to 10 seconds even if the driver’s sight strays from the road. These accessories, combined with a 5-star Euro NCAP crash test result, make this missle of a car also a super safe family car.
Interior and comfort
The RS6 surprises not only with its performance, but also with its comfort. Sound-proof windows and air suspension make it an incredibly quiet and comfortable place to travel in. Passenger comfort in the RS6 is definitely the best in the class of supersedans/wagons. The Valcona leather upholstery of our sport seats in addition to the “honeycomb” texture and RS6 logo, make these seats one of the best-looking seat designs on the market, but in the matter of comfort we were divided. One of our test drivers complained that the seats are uncomfortable for the shoulders, and it was hard to find a good driving position, but others praised the seats. In any case, they differ slightly from equivalent models from Mercedes, Porsche and BMW, by being more cuplike. Back seat room is adequate and you can fit baggage longitudinally that would not fit for example in a Volkswagen Touareg. This car can be the only car even for a larger family. The digital display and carbon fiber trim complement the already sporty and modern interior. Materials and build quality are of the highest standard. This interior is a nice place to be in. Everything is positioned logically and within easy reach. In this car you don’t need the instruction manual.
These are interesting times for people who love power sedans and wagons. The market is saturated with ever improving products and four-wheel drive suitable for Finnish conditions is luckily becoming increasingly widespread. The RS6 has its own niche. If you have a family and want to combine great looks, practicality, and sufficient size, safety, comfort, sports car performance and four-wheel drive in one car, the RS6 is perfect for you. The car is much sportier and faster than its predecessor, even though on paper it is down on power and it has lost two cylinders. The predecessor’s biggest fault was that its speed was not felt by the driver and it left one a little cold. The current car is so good that we mourn for the U.S. customers who won’t be getting it. In Finland you can get it, but due to it’s suggested retail prices starting from EUR 181 923.17 will limit the number of possible customers. Our well-equipped car had a retail price of almost EUR 220 000. However, after driving with this car for a weekend, we were more than ready to go to the bank and get a loan. It is that GOOD!
Acceleration 0-100 km/h (2 passengers, full tank and studded winter tires): 4.2s
Test consumption: 14.6 l/100 km
Engine: 4.0-litre V8 TFSI
Power: 412 kW (560 bhp)
Torque: 700 Nm
Acceleration 0-100 km/h: 3.9s
Consumption: 9.8l /100 km
C02-emissions: 229 g/km