4.0-liter Twin-Turbo V8 Hybrid
8 Speed Tiptronic automatic
All Wheel Drive
by Jared Rosenholtz
For the past several decades, it has sucked to be a wagon fan in the United States. The original RS2 Avant was never offered in America, nor were any generations of the RS4 or RS6. We occasionally received Sportback models like the RS5 and RS7 but a high-performance wagon from Audi has strictly been forbidden fruit in the US. But earlier this year, we reported that Audi was toying with the idea to bring its fastest wagon model, the RS6 Avant, to the US market.
After several months of speculation, the rumors turned out to be true and the fourth generation RS6 Avant will be offered in the US for the first time ever. Even though Americans greatly favor SUVs, wagon sales have been on the rise lately and now might be the perfect time for Audi to make the wagon cool again.
When we last reviewed the Audi A6 sedan, we noted that the styling was too vanilla and we'd prefer to wait for the sportier S6 and possible RS6 versions. After the S6 was revealed looking mostly the same as the A6, we thought Audi simply couldn't build a head-turning luxury car anymore. Boy, were we wrong. This new RS6 is remarkably aggressive with massive wheel arches, sleek body lines, and silver accents on the massive front and rear diffusers. It almost looks like a DTM car and in an exciting color, will draw stares when you see it on the road.
Audi has widened the car by 1.6 inches and fitted it with RS-specific bodywork. Unlike its luxury competitors, the BMW M5 and Mercedes-AMG E63, the RS6 looks remarkably different from the car on which it is based.
Inside, the RS6 retains the interior we loved in the A6 but dials up the aggression. A new flat-bottom steering wheel looks sportier than the round one found in the A6 and the RS seats look capable of keeping the driver in place while also offering comfort on long journeys. Audi's Virtual Cockpit is one of the best digital gauge clusters on the market and the company's Touch MMI interface is highly intuitive.
In an A6 sedan, the trunk only offers 13.7 cubic feet of cargo volume but the RS6 Avant bumps the storage up to 20 cubic feet or 59.3 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. Rear seat space should be similar to the sedan but the Avant would easily win as the ideal family hauler.
The previous Audi RS7 produced 560 horsepower from a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8. With this new car, Audi has bumped the output up to 600 PS (around 592 hp) and 590 lb-ft of torque from the same displacement engine. Power is put to the tarmac through an eight-speed automatic and Quattro all-wheel-drive, enabling a 0-62 mph time of just 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph. An E63 S wagon is a bit quicker but we wouldn't be surprised if Audi releases an RS6 Performance model later on.
Audi will offer an optional RS Sport Suspension with Dynamic Ride Control ad the car can be configured with six drive modes plus two, RS-specific RS1 and RS2 modes. The E63 AMG is a very stiff car, so we expect the Audi to be the more comfortable daily driver.
Will it sell? We sure hope so. Audi is taking a major gamble here based on numerous requests from people who have said: "I'd buy one if it was sold in America." Those people best put their money where their mouth is, and go buy one, or else the RS6 will fail just like every other enthusiast car the internet asked for. Remember the Chevy SS, manual Jaguar F-Type, and Cadillac CTS-V wagon? Yeah, the internet begged for those cars too, then no one went and bought them.
Audi is, undoubtedly, catering to a small segment of wagon buyers in the US with the RS6. The car will likely start at or over $100,000 as well, which further limits the customer base to very wealthy enthusiasts. We just hope there are enough of those people out there to justify the RS6's existence because there aren't enough wealthy automotive journalists to buy them all.