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Audi RS6 Avant unleashes all-road intensity

This super wagon will not be coming to the United States.

By AutoWeek Dec 5, 2012 1:38PM

Audi has upped the ante in the luxury-car ranks with the third-generation RS6 Avant—a wagon whose towering performance is claimed to make it faster than the highly regarded Porsche 911 Carrera S in both straight line and maximum speeds.

The rapid German load hauler runs the highest-tuned version of Audi's advanced twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 gasoline engine—essentially the same unit found in the Bentley Continental GT.

With about 552 hp, the engine actually delivers less power than the 5.2-liter V10 used by the second-generation RS6 Avant. But, thanks to the characteristics of its turbocharged-induction system, maximum power now arrives earlier at 5,700 rpm, augmented by a sturdy torque output near 516 lb-ft.

The latest Audi S6 Avant, upon which the RS6 Avant is largely based, uses a less highly tuned version of the same twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine with around 414 hp and 405 lb-ft.

The heady reserves are channeled through an eight-speed automatic gearbox offering the driver the choice of D (drive) and S (sport) modes. The ZF-engineered unit receives steering wheel-mounted shift paddles and a software package that is claimed to improve shift time in sport mode. 

Audi RS6 Avant (c) Audi

Drive is subsequently apportioned to each axle via the latest version of Audi's torque-sensing permanent all-wheel-drive system, quattro. An optional torque-vectoring function can also be ordered as part of a sport differential to constantly vary the amount of power going to each rear wheel depending on the amount of prevailing grip for further traction enhancement.

Refinements to the body and its supporting structure, which are fashioned from a combination of aluminum and hot-formed high-strength steel, have reportedly brought a reduction in curb weight. Audi isn't going into specifics, but suggests a 220-pound reduction has been achieved, hinting at a weight for the new model of around 4,134 pounds—a figure which points to an improved power-to-weight ratio.

Audi claims the RS6 Avant blasts from 0 to 62 mph in just 3.9 seconds, or an impressive 0.6 second faster than its predecessor. By way of comparison, the Porsche 911 Carrera S is claimed to require 4.5 seconds to reach the same speed, while the S6 Avant needs 4.9 seconds. Top speed is nominally limited to 155 mph, however it can be raised to 174 mph with an optional Dynamic package, and 190 mph with a further Dynamic Plus package.

The closest of the new Audi's luxury performance car rivals, the Mercedes E63 AMG wagon, whose turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 develops 550 hp and 590 lb-ft in combination with an optional Performance package (costing an additional $7,300), hits 62 mph in an official 4.3 seconds and runs to a maximum of 186 mph. 

Audi RS6 Avant (c) Audi

As part of efforts to improve overall comfort, the third-generation RS6 comes standard with an air suspension—a first for Audi's RS models. The hi-tech underpinnings are programmed to provide differing levels of ride height depending on the mode selected by the driver, with the so-called dynamic feature lowering the body by 0.8 inch. Buyers can also specify an optional dynamic ride-control suspension. It dispenses with the air suspension for a more conventional arrangement that uses steel springs and three-way-adjustable shock absorbers. The standard wheels and tires are 20 inches in diameter, with 21-inch rims available as an option.

The RS6 Avant is differentiated from the S6 by an aggressive-looking body kit. These features are also included: a deep front bumper with sizeable air ducts and vertical strakes to channel air separately into the engine bay and toward the front brakes; a high gloss-black grille with a newly modeled lower section incorporating a graphic with the word “quattro;” more heavily flared front wings; a more substantial sill element underneath the doors; and an altered rear bumper featuring a larger full-width diffuser along with twin chromed oval tail pipes.

Audi will offer the new car with two optional styling packages: Matte aluminum and Carbon—the latter of which adds a further dose of visual aggression to the front bumper and rear diffuser.

-- Greg Kable


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Dec 6, 2012 10:45AM
Beautiful sportwagon, but no diesel V8 and automatic only. What a shame.
Dec 14, 2012 10:22AM

As much of a diesel nut as I am, I can live without the diesel in this particular model.  However, I cannot live with the automatic transmission, so I'll pass.  BMW learned their lesson with the M5.  It's too bad Audi couldn't do the same.


I wouldn't mind getting my hands on a cheap, high mileage S4 B5.  Audi knew how to build them back then.

Dec 10, 2012 9:04AM
"Do you ever stop to think that maybe their current diesels might not fit?"

Dear Steve-80, the RS6 Avant fits the 4.0L V8 TFSI engine just fine.

These days, the diesel engines are actually lighter and smaller than gasoline ones, a product of massive investment in diesel research and development over the last twenty years.
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