Fast wagons may be a dying trend for some manufacturers, but at Audi they’re tradition. Audi’s first two high-performance RS-cars, the RS2 and RS4 Avant, were only offered as wagons. And although they veered away from tradition thereafter, they’re back in the game with the all-new RS6 Avant. The best part? On paper, this car absolutely obliterates the competition.
Underneath the hood of the aggressively-sculpted body lies the same 4.0L V8 found in the S6, but with power bumped right up to 560 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, figures extremely similar to the competing BMW M5. However, the Audi puts that power down through all four wheels via an eight-speed tiptronic gearbox, as opposed to the BMW’s seven-speed unit sending power to the rear. The RS6 is also roughly 65 kg lighter than the Bimmer. As a result, the Audi gets from a standstill to 100 km/h in just 3.9 seconds — a full half-second faster than Bavaria’s finest. If you pony up the cash for the Dynamic plus package, your RS6 can outpace the M5 in top speed too. The package bumps the speed limiter up to 306 km/h, while the M5 has no factory option to remove or increase its 250 km/h limit.
“But BMW’s figures are usually conservative,” I hear you cry. You’re absolutely right — some publications have timed the M5 from 0 to 60 mph in as little as 3.7 seconds. But the RS6’s little brother, the S6, is factory-rated for 0 to 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds — yet it’s been clocked completing the 0-60 sprint just as quickly as the M5. If the S6 can keep up with the M5, it stands to reason that the RS6 should kick things up a notch.
The true downfall of the Audi could end up being handling. The M5 is very well-known for its agility, thanks in part to the rear-wheel-drive layout. Most of Audi’s RS-cars, on the other hand, have been known to exhibit horrendous understeer. With the RS6, Audi has gone through a lot of effort to ensure great handling. They’re offering dynamic steering, massive brakes, and plenty of other goodies for spirited driving. As such, maybe there’s some hope, but we’ll have to wait for the first reviews to come in before we find out.
If you’re interested in fuel efficiency, both the Audi and the BMW have identical fuel economy ratings on the European cycle — 24 US mpg. US EPA ratings for the RS6 may show different results. That is, of course, if Audi decides to bring the new car to this side of the pond, which currently seems unlikely — the last RS6 was never offered in North America, even as a sedan. But you can bet I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed, as this is shaping up to be one hell of a fast wagon.