With the arrival of the latest RS6 Performance, we take a look back at some of its predecessors.
Audi has just revealed the RS6 Avant Performance, endowing the sports wagon with more power, customization options, and better handling. Audi has always looked to enhance its already-exceptional performance cars further, and the recent celebration of the V10-powered R8 is further proof.
But things started getting hotter before the R8 arrived on the scene as Ingolstadt's finest were making the most of range-topping Audi Sport creations.
The RS6 is particularly special to us, not least because America had to fight to get the current generation sold here. With the arrival of a new Performance model, we've decided to look back on the short, but remarkable history of the RS6 turned up to 11 by Audi Sport.
The tradition began in 2004 with the C5 generation of the Audi RS6.
Produced between April and September 2004, the RS6 Plus benefitted from Cosworth lending a helping hand on the engine. Initially producing 443 horsepower from its bi-turbo 4.2-liter V8, the RS6 Avant Plus upped the ante with 473 hp.
Only 999 units were made, and this became the first Audi in history to be capable of going faster than 155 mph (250 kph), with a top speed of almost 174 mph (280 kph), making it the fastest wagon in the world. Without any engine control unit interference, this beast could exceed 186 mph (300 kph).
The C6 generation RS6 Plus was a little different. More than half as many Plus examples were made for this generation, with 500 units rolling off the production line.
Another key difference is that the C6 RS6 plus got no more power. However, it was still extraordinary, arriving with a 5.0-liter twin-turbo V10 engine related to the naturally aspirated V10 found in the S6, S8, and of course, the V10.
The RS6 Avant's engine had around 400 unique parts and was likely a challenge to engineer, so output remained the same in the Plus version, with 572 ponies. The top speed was limited to 188 mph (303 kph), and the R8 was the only Audi that could go faster.
For the C7 generation, Plus became Performance, with both the RS6 and the RS7 benefitting.
These cars both came with the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 that has become a mainstay of Audi's high-end luxury performance cars. Performance versions of each arrived in 2016 with 44 hp more than before, for a total of 597. Torque was also briefly increased to 553 lb-ft with an overboost function, and depending on the added options, the top speed could be as high as 190 mph (305 kph).
Notably, these upgrades did not affect the fuel economy and CO2 emissions figures of the RS6, showing how efficient combustion engines can be with a little fine-tuning.
We're now in the C8 generation, and while the standard 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8's output is more than adequate for most, the Performance versions of the RS6 and RS7 have been boosted by 30 hp to 621 hp.
Torque has also been increased and is now rated at 627 lb-ft, a bonus of around 37 lb-ft. This is achieved by increasing the boost pressure on the turbochargers from 34.8 psi to 37.7 psi. With less weight and a retuned eight-speed automatic transmission, the RS6 and RS7 Performance will accelerate quicker and top out at 190 mph.
No faster than their predecessors, these lightly warmed-up Audi RS models are a sign of the auto industry's waning interest in internal combustion development.
There's little we can do about that, so we may as well enjoy the time we have left with these cars.
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