The Audi RS6 Avant has always been a firm favourite of the fast wagonista. The latest iteration is loaded with stuff and tech, but does it still hold the crown?
The A6 Avant has a cult following as it is, but throw in a high-performance twin-turbo V8 (or V10, as in the past) and you have the searing hot RS6 Avant. For 2020, there is a heap of new tech, plenty of Audi Sport magic and a newer, crankier looking car.
How much is a 2020 Audi RS6 Avant and what do I get?
2020 Audi RS6 Avant: $216,000 + ORC
Well, Audi got straight down to business with a sticker north of $200,000, didn’t it? Thing is, though, it’s cheaper than the previous car by a whopping $32,000, down to $216,000 from over $248,000.
You get 22-inch alloys, Valcona leather interior, heated and ventilated RS sport seats (also electrically adjusted), four-zone climate control, LED lighting, Nappa leather over the doors and console and a few other surfaces, panoramic glass sunroof, soft-close doors, 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit with the new double-screen MMI and control screen, auto HD matrix LED headlights, head-up display, wireless charging, adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, around-view cameras, auto wipers, power tailgate, heated folding rear vision mirrors and a tyre repair kit.
The Virtual Cockpit screen is the usual 12.3-inch unit with the new RS layout, which is pretty nifty. You also get wireless CarPlay and USB Android Auto, a 16-speaker B&O stereo with 705 watts, DAB and you can option a DVD player for $350. Still. In 2020. Those crazy Germans.
A choice of eight colours is available along with a matte effect option ($10,900!) on selected colours. The freebies are Nardo Grey (co-pilot Mark loves* this colour), Glacier White, Florett Silver, Daytona Grey (pearl effect), Mythos Blac, Navarra Blue and Tango Red. The eighth colour is $1400 and it’s Sebring Black. I don’t know about you, but I don’t this RS6 Avant is going to look good in black.
Options and Packages
As it’s an Audi, there is plenty to choose from.
Sensory Package ($11,000): 1820-watt B&O 3D Advanced Sound with 19 speakers, sunshades for rear windows, black alcantara headlining, leather airbag cover and heated rear seats.
Do you need it? No. Is it nice? Yes.
RS Dynamic Package Plus ($19,500): RS ceramic brakes with red brake calipers, top speed rises to (gulp) 305km/h.
Do you need it? No. But these brakes are immensely strong, don’t feel like carbon brakes in normal traffic and keep the wheels clean.
Carbon and black exterior package ($8,700): Front spoiler, front side flaps, sill inserts and rear diffuser in gloss carbon black. And trim strips and mirrors in black plastic.
Do you need it? No. Looks mean, though.
Matt aluminium styling package NCO): The bits in the carbon pack, but aluminium, along with roof rails and mirror caps.
Do you need it? No. Is it naff? Yes. I don’t like that crap on M cars, why would I like it on an Audi?
RS Design Package $2900: Available in a choice of blue or red, you get lots of stitching all over the cabin, including steering wheel, shifter and console. Comes up nicely on the seatbelts and floor mats too.
Do I need it? No. Cool? Yep, especially the blue.
Single options are available, like heated outboard rear seats ($900), a luggage rail system with extra bits ($750), wood inlays ($750), carbon twill inlays ($1700),
Safety – 5 stars (A6 and S6, ANCAP May 2020)
The RS6 lands with six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, lane keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, forward AEB (pedestrians and cyclists 5-85km/h, 250km/h for other vehicles), fatigue detection, pre-sense rear (detects someone about to run into you from behind, tensioning seat belts and closing the windows), collision avoidance assist (helps you steer out of trouble), rear cross-traffic alert, intersection assist (stops you turning across oncoming traffic by shouting at you and punching the brake), exit warning system (stops you dooring cyclists or other cars) and a few other bits and bobs.
So it’s a comprehensive package. Note, however, that the rating does not officially apply to the RS6 but covers the A6 and S6. Do with that confusing information what you will.
Look and feel
If you’ve watched the video, you already know what I think. It’s a gorgeous design, with just the right amount of meanness without the being a dumb thug. The 22-inch alloys look tremendous, more so if you go with the blue calipers and ceramic brakes.
The headlights look terrific with the LED daytime running lights and with the standard black pack, it’s just superb. I’m not normally a red car guy, but this one is the business. The car in the pics has the carbon styling pack, but the black will do just fine.
Inside, it’s predictably lovely, with the A6/A7 dash design and all those black screens that come to life when you start up. The front seats are very nice indeed and you can see the red Audi Sport design pack has been applied.
You get plenty of space in the big boot, lots of occupant space for four (pinch for five with the transmission tunnel), four cupholders and bottle holders and a good sized centre console. The wireless phone charging is great, especially if you’re an Apple person.
Audi’s 4.0-litre twin turbo V8 is a proper heavy-hitter, spinning up 441kW between 600 and 6250rpm and 800Nm between 2050 and 4500rpm. An eight-speed ZF automatic delivers the power to all four wheels via Audi Sport’s version of quattro.
A 3.6-second zero to 100km/h time is quite sobering as is the 280km/h top speed, especially considering the car’s 2150kg weight. The 0-200km/h time is also quite something, clocking in at 12 seconds dead.
Audi says the aluminium crankcase weighs 39.1kg, the cylinders are plasma-coated and there are two fuel pumps and a fully-variable oil pump.
Both turbos are twin-scroll units, which helps explain how little lag there is.
The new car includes the now-familiar 48-volt mild hybrid system which can recover power at the rate of 12kW when coasting. The stop-start cuts in nice and early at 22km/h.
Audi claims an official figure of 11.7L/100km on the combined cycle, but we all know that will be near impossible to reach. You do get some help from cylinder on demand and the mild hybrid system (Audi says it’s worth 0.8L/100km), but expect mid-teens when you’re on it or city-bound.
There’s a lot going on here.
The quattro all-wheel drive system is rear-biased, do not complain to me that it isn’t. Standard is 40:60 front to rear, with up to 85 percent going to the rears. A sport differential on the rear axle also plays around with the rear torque split.
Standard is all-wheel steering along with variable ratio steering. I didn’t even notice the latter, so it’s getting very good.
Air suspension is also standard, which explains the ride in Comfort mode and can also raise or lower the car. You can specify the RS sports suspension with dynamic ride control, which reduces pitch and roll ($2850 and why the hell not?).
If you stick with the steel brakes, you get 10-piston callipers gripping staggeringly large 420mm front discs (that’s a new record for me) and 370mm rears. Spend the $19,500 on the ceramics and you score 440mm front discs (and another record). Either way, your stopping power is immense.
Keeping you on the ground is a set of Pirelli P-Zero 285/30 R22s.
Cars this big and this fast are almost routine now. The arms race between the Germans has been going on for a while and it’s a pity the current Jaguar XF has bowed out of the race.
Audi has somehow cracked the code on the Avant, though. The BMW M5 last had a wagon version in the E60 series. The E63 does have a wagon version, but we don’t get it. So Audi owns the fast wagon market (with one exception, I’ll talk about it later).
The RS6 is, unsurprisingly, an enormous amount of fun. While I would probably prefer non-air suspension for just me, the air suspension setup on this car means its capabilities are astonishingly broad. Yes, it adds weight, but it means riding around Australia’s pot-holed, rubber speed bumped mess of a road system is genuinely calm.
Punch the RS button on the steering and it crouches down over those big wheels and tyres. Punch it again and the electro-nannies take a step back and, quite honestly, this thing absolutely hoots along.
Initial turn-in feels a bit woolly (and we’re speaking in relative terms here) as the weight shifts around, but once that’s happened and the air suspension has gathered itself (we’re talking tenths of a second), it hunkers down and grips.
That means you’re more than capable of getting on the power very, very early, the quattro system sending you where you point the wheels. As it happens, you’re pointing all four of them, with the fronts turning in the traditional direction and the rears opposite (or the same when you’re not hammering it). The turn-in is flattered by the rear rotating around you but it feels quite natural after a while, almost hot-hatchey in its response.
The brakes are immensely powerful but easy to modulate. That delivers piles of confidence in the car as you power towards a corner knowing you can jump on them and they’ll be there. The chassis responds well and covers up mistakes, too.
But that V8 – what a colossal thing. It’s not quite as vocal as I remember the old car being, but I’ll take the huge torque any day. It’s massively flexible as an every day road car and so unbelievably powerful when you’re on it. There’s almost no turbo lag and when you hit the torque band, you’re gone. Few cars will be able to stay with you.
Not much. The Alpina B5 Touring is as close as you’re going to get. Being an Alpina, it’s much more of a comfort machine. And being a 5 Series, way less cool to look at. Terrific interior – especially with the right options – and it runs with the Audi on the tech offering if not the presentation.
The B5 Touring starts at $210,000 but you won’t stay with an RS6 in the corners.
I mean, obviously, yes. I’d have one in a heartbeat and I’d suggest that my hard-marking wife would too, just like the old one.
Give it to me in Nardo Grey, not that fussed about the ceramic brakes (but if you insist) and let the black pack stay as-is. It’s an awesome car that will crush every task you throw at it, from a mundane Ikea run to racing down the coast the back way to avoid the dullness of the motorways.
Peter Anderson is the Editor and founder of the theredline.com.au. He’s been writing about cars for years and finds it difficult to talk about anything else.