Review by Marc Rutten
The latest iteration of the acknowledged Audi RS6 Avant platform is here. Codenamed the C8, I was thrown the key at a small little hotel near Malibu pier to experience the latest and - can I say? - greatest superwagon in the world. I think I can, with many RS6 groupies agreeing with me, and a small number of AMG fans asking me; what about the E63 S? Yes, there is a E-Class superwagon available for many to choose from, but the benchmark in this space is undeniable the RS6. Luckily for the North Americans, they will have their option to acquire one on their home soil for the very first time. Amazing, especially for a region that doesn’t like, and hardly purchases wagons.
Back to the car itself, parked in front of me in Malibu was an Audi RS6 Avant packed to the max with goodies and features, combined into a vehicle that is often characterised as the ultimate daily-driver. Key ingredients are the abundance of performance, all-weather abilities, comfort, space and that German sporty estate design that so many of us adore and love. Based on the 8th generation A6, the new RS6 shares just three body components – the front doors, the roof, and the tailgate - with its A6 Avant counterpart. Audi shifted their design closer to supercars like the R8, and the sharp-edged design philosophy found on a Lamborghini. It is visible!
Under the hood, we find a familiar sight. Audi's twin-turbocharged, 4.0-litre V8 engine is shared with other models within the model line up and produces a lovely 591 horsepower at 6,000rpm and 590lb-ft of torque between 2,000 and 4,500. For those would like to use the RS6's full performance from standstill can hit the chequered flag button on the steering wheel. Just hold the brakes and smash the throttle, and you'll activate launch control, allowing the RS6 Avant to catapult you in 3.6 seconds to 62mph (100kmh) and to 124mph (200kmh) in 12 seconds flat. Top speed is limited to 155mph (250kmh) as per usual. You can raise it either to 174mph (280kmh) or 190mph (305kmh) which comes at a cost.
The V8 is linked to eight-speed automatic transmission with manual control via paddles or the gear selector and permanent Quattro all-wheel drive system, which offer a power split of 40:60 between the front and rear wheels, though the system can send up to 70% of the torque to the front and up to 85% to the rear in specific situations. Cylinder deactivation and a mild 48V hybrid setup are available to assist the engine reducing fuel consumption and improve emissions.
The overall performance level of the new Audi RS6 isn't as mind-blowing as you would expect. Never are your eyeballs being sucked into the back of your head. It is the sheer delightfulness in which the RS6 puts the power to the street and is able to propel you forward in a linear fashion which feels so immensely Audi-like. In a good way of course! This RS6 is made to fit for German Autobahns, not so much the twisty mountain roads of my test location.
The rear wheel steering setup is bringing up to five degrees of lock on the rear axle in the opposite direction to the fronts at low speed, and up to two degrees in the same direction above 62mph (100kmh). It offers enhanced agility while aiding stability, something you feel when you attack the sweeping roads near Castro Crest.
If there is a comment to make about the handling and agility of the new RS6, then it is the subject of weight, which should not be a problem for the majority of owners that will use their RS6 as a daily-driver, but in tight bends there was a clear tendency of understeer and the Pirelli tyres simply just giving up. Just take a step back while using the momentum of the vehicle, and you are rewarded for being more delicate on the throttle and the steering. Definitely make sure to find that sweet spot!
Audi offer a choice when it comes to its available suspension set up for the superwagon. The RS6 comes with a standard height-adjustable air ride suspension, and a fixed-height Dynamic Ride Control suspension with traditional adaptive shocks, which are linked with a system that connects diagonally the dampers with hydraulic fluid. The DRC is definitely the more sporting choice, and the air suspension your choice when it comes to comfort.
None of the options is a bad choice, it is just the owner's personal preference, but they could play a role on the subject of ride quality. The standard 21 inch wasn't available on any of the test cars, so we drove on 22 inch wheels, which seems perfectly reasonable, although the majority of road surfaces I drove on were relatively smooth. I would love to feel the difference between both offerings on a different stretch of tarmac making my own personal decision.
The 2020 Audi RS6 Avant is everything I hoped the new RS6 to be. Simply everything you ask from it, it will deliver in a fashion not many sporty sedans or wagons are able to do. The RS6 shows its true characteristics in the world where down sizing, emission regulations and noise pollution are more common than ever before. How would I characterise it? In just two words; it is a "brilliant Audi", a superb combination between a sportive sharp and great-looking wagon and a wonderful automobile that belongs on anyone's driveway. It is simply brilliant at what should do!
Yes European readers, I am aware that I haven't touched on the exhaust note or shall we say the total absence of a signature note due to legislation and OPF filters killing all the fun in Europe. All I can say is that there are solutions in the aftermarket world that can solve this, if you prefer. The RS6 doesn't sound like the current E63 AMG, but I can ensure you the upcoming new E63 AMG won't sound anything like its predecessor. The fun with sound is over, people!
2020 Audi RS6 Avant C8