First drive: Audi RS6 Avant


First drive: Audi RS6 Avant

Bored of naysayers complaining that Audi's latest V8 engine isn't as potent or fiery as the previous V10 it replaces, the German firm has attempted to silence doubters by unveiling the fastest accelerating estate car on the market. Step forward the insane Audi RS6 Avant.

What is it?

It's every family man's fantasy, a 4-litre twin turbo V8 engine that produces a monstrous 552bhp all wrapped up in the exterior of a sensible estate car that can happily swallow 1,680 litres worth of luggage. The dog can get in the back, the wife won't sense anything is out of place (until she sees the fuel bills) and Mr Mid-life crisis gets to drag race Lamborghinis at the traffic lights. The concept may be difficult to fathom but demand for molten hot estate cars remains relatively strong, with Audi shifting around 700 of the outgoing model (saloon included) in the UK with relative ease over the last two years.

What's under the bonnet?

An all-new 4-litre twin turbo TFSI engine with cylinder-on-demand (COD) technology replaces the 5-litre V10 of old. Despite dropping a couple of cylinders (and even running on just four at cruising speeds thanks to fuel saving cylinder-on-demand technology) and 18-odd horses, the new power plant manages to propel the RS6 to 62mph from a standstill in just 3.9 seconds, beating the old unit by 0.7 seconds. It also reduces fuel consumption by a staggering 47% and drastically reduces emissions. The one thing it does lack is that glorious V10 soundtrack but some clever exhaust pipes and trick valves in the latest model ensure occupants and passers-by enjoy the impressive aural fireworks.

What's the spec like?

This is a £76,985 Audi so it's going to feel pretty special inside but the RS6 Avant really does pack the sort of technology you'd expect on a halo model. Honeycomb-quilted seats, the flat-bottomed RS steering wheel and twin oval RS tailpipes help ram home the sporting intentions but then the excellent BOSE sound system, MMI Navigation and driver information system are all added tech bonuses that come as standard. The interior is, in Audi's own words, "black sporty" but potential punters should read "dark". Almost everything is black plastic, which can dampen the sense of occasion somewhat and lends itself to being a bit gloomy rather than sporty.

Audi RS6 Avant

Audi RS6 Avant

Any rivals?

The Germans are pretty adept at producing ridiculously quick estate cars, with Mercedes offering the almost-as-bonkers E63 AMG estate at £75,510. It's slightly cheaper, produces near enough the same power and some will find the cabin airier and less oppressive. The BMW M5 saloon is just as potent but doesn't boast the same copious load area, while the Jaguar XFR-S saloon will do a good job of transporting passengers at 186mph. Those on a much tighter budget should look towards the BMW 330d Tourer, a competent machine that packs a luggage-lugging punch with a decent and much more discreet driving experience.

What's it like to drive?

The sheer size of the RS6 Avant makes attacking tight country roads a bit of a handful and the more enthusiastic drivers out there will find themselves on the brakes more than they are on the accelerator. The V8 produces so much punch it becomes difficult to put it down on normal roads, despite the best efforts of the four-wheel-drive Quattro system, but get this thing on an open Autobahn and it sings. An intensely illegal 155mph is dispatched in a blink of an eye yet the car feels so planted and safe, you want to push it that bit more. As a rapid missile that's capable of transporting a plethora of goods and people, the RS6 is phenomenal, but driving it anywhere near its limit requires some serious cojones and unless you want smashed shopping, mangled children and a divorce, it's probably best avoided when fully-laden with the aforementioned items.

The AOL Cars verdict

The Daily Mail questioned the need for such a rapid estate when details of the RS6 Avant were first unveiled, and they have a point, it is difficult to see anyone in the UK actually testing the 189mph top speed. But this isn't a machine for the masses, it is for those who want a truly luxurious, fire-breathing motor that pops and bangs yet can happily double up as an everyday family cruiser. In that respect, the RS6 Avant is pretty much faultless.

The knowledge

Model: Audi RS6 Avant
Price: £76,985
Engine: 4-litre twin turbo V8
Power: 552bhp 700Nm
Max speed: 155mph, 174mph or 189mph depending on spec
0-62mph: 3.9 seconds
MPG: 28.8mpg
Emissions: 229 g/km CO2

Read about the cheaper alternative:

BMW 330d Touring