The One

Luxurious, elegant, practical and fast – oh so fast.

For more than 20 years the RS 6 has carved out its own unique niche and redefined the very idea of a supercar in the process – and the new performance edition serves up more of what has made this car a cult favourite around the world.

James McRory

Camber and MyMedia (track images)

23 November, 2023

This is the fastest, most powerful RS6 Avant yet – in fact this is the fastest internal combustion engine Audi has produced

It’s easy to reel off a list of your favourite cars. Vehicles that represent a poignant time in your own evolution, cars you’ve always aspired to own or just vehicles that have always captured your imagination for whatever reason. But if you could have any car on earth and it would have to fulfil your every need – what would it be?

Well, for a loyal legion of enthusiasts, the RS 6 Avant has long been the only choice, and the arrival of the new ‘performance’ iteration of this perennial favourite only strengthens the argument for this perfect ‘one-car garage’.

Last year the RS 6 reached a milestone and celebrated its 20th anniversary. Over that period it has been available as both a Sedan and Avant at differing times, been driven by V8 and V10 powerplants and essentially rewritten the definition of what constitutes a supercar along the way.

From its first appearance in 2000 to the present day, the RS 6 has continued to build on its performance legacy and the fact that it delivers supercar levels of handling and performance in a car that comfortably carries five adults and significant amounts of luggage.

In its present guise, the RS 6 Avant (and its sister car the RS 7 Sportback performance) represent the most powerful and fastest models yet – with its bi-turbo 4.0-litre V8 churning out a stonking 463W of power and 850Nm of torque. That is 22kW and 50Nm up on the previous model which is no slouch, so we’re talking serious performance by any measure.

Indeed it is the most powerful internal combustion engine Audi has ever produced, and, mated to a super-fast eight-speed tiptronic transmission, takes the RS6 (and RS7 Sportback) experience to a new level.

At these rarified levels of performance, you measure the improvements in fractions of a second, with the new RS 6 Avant performance officially hitting 100km/h from standstill in 3.4 seconds – 0.2 seconds quicker than the previous model. In the right environment though, this figure could potentially be further improved. 

To put this in perspective, the R8 Coupé V10 GT RWD released as a swan song to the R8, also hits 100km/h in 3.4 seconds. It is the most powerful rear-wheel drive car Audi has ever produced for the road, delivering 456kW and 565Nm.

Or, looking at quattro all-wheel drive to compare something a little closer to apples with apples, the R8 V10 performance quattro hits 100km/h in 3.2 seconds thanks to its 449kW of power and 560Nm of torque on the way to a top speed of 330km/h.

So the RS 6 Avant performance is line ball in terms of its outright performance with these bonafide Audi supercars. And yet they are mid-engined, two-door sports cars and the RS6 is a large, five-door station wagon, absolutely loaded with state-of-the-art technology and the latest in infotainment – not to mention a superb cabin that is loaded with luxurious inclusions.

So the RS 6 Avant performance is line ball in terms of its outright performance with these bonafide Audi supercars

Around town the RS 6 has always been every inch the luxury limo in terms of its ride and comfort and the ‘performance’ variant is no different

This RS 6 Avant performance version, while as luxurious as you would expect, takes its ‘performance’ moniker very seriously, featuring numerous weight saving devices throughout, including a reduction in sound damping material which results in the sound of that wonderful twin-turbo V8 being all the more pronounced inside the cabin.

Around town the RS 6 has always been every inch the luxury limo and the ‘performance’ variant is no different. At low revs, the burble of the V8 is evident but not intrusive and with its cylinder on demand function (COD) where half of the cylinders are seamlessly shut down when not under load, it is as easy to drive as it it is comfortable. You can choose to turn up the superb Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system and luxuriate in the beautifully-finished interior, complete with RS embossing on the Valcona leather sports seats which are perforated and ventilated/heated depending on the season. You can play with the 30 different colours of the ambient lighting to set the right mood and even select which of the bespoke fragrances (made especially for Audi) you want to perfume the cabin’s rarified air. 

Or, you could open it up on a freeway, or better still, around a race track and immediately forget that you are driving an Avant model as the car shrinks around the driver and does things that a large, station wagon shouldn’t be able to do.

Turn off the B&O system and revel in the engine and exhaust note, as you circulate lap after lap, checking G forces and lap times on the special RS screens within the virtual cockpit, making use of the sport mode or one of two RS modes in the Audi drive select that can be pre-programmed with your ideal vehicle settings.

The acceleration is brutal and the sound inside the cabin is pure music to an enthusiast’s ears. Even wearing a helmet for the track it fills the cabin, provides the perfect soundtrack and is very much a part of the RS6 experience.

Every bit up to the task presented by the massive power, the brakes inside the enormous 22-inch wheels pull the car up unfailingly without a hint of fade even lap after lap. Measuring it at 420mm up front with 10-piston callipers and 370mm discs on the rear, they are massive, but it is possible to take things even further with the option of carbon ceramic brakes measuring 440mm. These are the biggest brakes available on an Australian delivered car and save an additional 34kg of unsprung weight.

The specially milled and forged rims are also lighter than any wheel previously offered on the RS6 Avant, weighing in at five kilograms lighter than those offered on the previous model. There are four different wheel designs to choose from, but the ones seen here are a particular favourite and allows you to fully appreciate the size of the brake discs and massive calibers.

With the wheels shod in Continental Sport Contact 7 rubber and combined with quattro permanent all-wheel drive with self-locking centre diff and Audi Sport adaptive air suspension, the grip and road holding is supernatural.

The grip and handling at the limit is nothing short of supernatural

Styling is of course a very subjective field, but it’s hard not to be impressed by the sheer presence of the RS6 Avant performance

But again, if you are someone who intends to spend as much time as possible on the race track, then you can also opt for the dynamic ride control suspension which uses hydraulically interlinked opposite dampers to reduce pitch to practically nothing.

It’s a ridiculously agile car, thanks in no small part to the progressive, four-wheel steering, and more impressive still when you consider the car’s dimensions – 4995mm long with a wheelbase of 2929mm.

Yet despite the size and the level of equipment, the feeling hard on the brakes is solid and predictable and as with everything on the RS6 Avant performance, there is a feeling of complete dependability. You can drive deep into a braking zone with confidence and then rocket out the other side with the car always feeling sorted. You’d have to be really trying or doing stupid things to unsettle the balance of this car. It flatters the keen amateur and rewards the advanced driver with equal measure. And, what’s truly remarkable about the RS6 Avant is the fact that you can drive lap after lap at the track if the mood takes you, but then drive sedately back to the city where it will be just as comfortable in the daily traffic-light dash.

When it comes to the styling, that is of course a very subjective field, but it’s hard not to be impressed by the sheer presence of the RS6 Avant. Long gone are the early days of this model where it was very much a wolf in sheep’s clothing – albeit fairly muscular sheep’s clothing. 

Now there is no escaping the aggressive front end complete with the low, wide Singleframe grille with the vent design above it straight from the Audi Sport quattro days. The HD Matrix LED headlights add to that aggressive front as well as producing unworldly illumination at night – thanks to Audi laser light, and the massive air intakes flanking the grille are not just for show.

Then there is the muscular body that flares out some eight centimetres in places over the standard Audi A6 model it is based on. The rear end too is likewise purposeful without crying for attention, with its pronounced air diffuser, dual exhaust tips and the subtle roof spoiler. And while  you would never call it over-the-top, there is no missing the fact that the RS6 Avant performance is not just a slick-looking wagon. Even a passerby not familiar with the RS name would twig to the fact as soon as the starter button was pushed. It’s impossible to miss.

And yet, for all its purposeful styling, massive wheels and throaty exhaust note, the RS6 Avant performance remains an elegant, luxury car – from the beautiful internal finishes like the carbon twill inlays, to the soft close doors and right down to the illuminated seatbelt buckles.

With this latest iteration of the RS6 Avant, Audi Sport has again produced a car that’s as comfortable sitting in the pits at the track as it is outside a trendy inner city restaurant. It is simply the car for all seasons and all occasions. So, if you could have only one car to do it all – and do it all beautifully – it is just about impossible to go past the RS6 Avant performance. Of course there’s always the RS7 Sportback performance …

And yet, for all its purposeful styling, massive wheels and throaty exhaust note, the RS6 Avant performance remains an elegant, luxury car