Vital Stats

Engine:
4.0L Biturbo V8
Power:
552 HP / 516 LB-FT
Transmission:
8-Speed Automatic
0-60 Time:
3.8 Seconds (est.)
Top Speed:
190 MPH*
Drivetrain:
All-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
4,431 LBS (est.)
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
20 / 59.3 CU-FT
MPG:
17 City / 31 HWY (est.)
Base Price:
$107,000 (est.)
Latest, Greatest Autobahn Bomber Will Not Be Denied – Except To Us



Back in 2008, I was fortunate enough to test the second-generation Audi RS6 Avant in southern France on the supremely well-sorted circuit at Le Castellet, a.k.a. Paul Ricard. I was thrown out there with the 572-horsepower bi-turbo 5.0-liter V10-equipped behemoth behind one of Audi's DTM pros and was convinced in short order that the flaming hippo in my hands was going to get the better of me on one or another of the track's tight esses. I made it out alive and invigorated, of course, but knew that that RS6 Avant was the heaviest that these thunderwagons should ever be allowed to get. At around 4,650 pounds with driver aboard, it was just way more lateral momentum at speed than any pilot needs on a track – or for that matter, on a favorite hot curving road.

Now it's time for the 2013 Audi RS6 Avant to lay us out with a flying scissor kick from the corner ropes. This version of the highway and byway marauder from quattro GmbH is a decidedly greater piece of work than was the car I drove in 2008. This time, there will only be the Avant body configuration – no RS6 sedan – and, as with the previous generation, North America won't be at the receiving end when deliveries start at the end of July this year.

I can only whine loudly about what a pity that is; the new RS6 Avant with its 4.0-liter bi-turbo V8 is the absolute best Audi RS model I have tested in over a decade. It weighs in 220 pounds less than its predecessor, loses 20 horsepower, gains 37 pound-feet of torque, and torches the previous car's acceleration time to 60 miles per hour by seven-tenths of a second, or in other words, it needs only 3.8 seconds. That's seriously hair-brained action in a family-car wrapper. There are a few reasons as to why it's that much quicker, but one key is the greater 17.4 psi of boost pressure from each turbocharger versus the 10.2 psi per unit on the last generation's spec sheet. Then there are the tighter ratios of the eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox against the six-speed Tiptronic of 2008.
2013 Audi RS6 Avant side view2013 Audi RS6 Avant front view2013 Audi RS6 Avant rear view

My test car has the Dynamic Package Plus and is let out to 190 mph.

And that's exactly why I am so smitten: Audi RS models have routinely depressed me with their ultimate lack of racy finesse, leaving me invariably convinced that the S models are by far the best bet, as they at least deliver as much as they promise – and for a mess less cash. This time, this RS6 Avant was properly smacking me around when I wanted to be smacked around, squeezing almost all lateral staying power out of my torso and generally forcing the optional 21-inch Pirelli P Zeros to work harder than I've felt rubber work on any such car. This thing is delightfully disturbing.

Buyers of the RS6 Avant can get the stock setup limited to 155 mph, or they can grab the Dynamic package that takes things to 174 mph. My test car, painted Suzuka Grey Metallic (though it sure looks white), however, includes the Dynamic Package Plus – cue the chorus of angels – and is let out to 190 mph. To go with the added speed, the "Plus" includes carbon ceramic brake discs, a rear sport differential, RS sport suspension plus with dynamic ride control, dynamic steering, full LED headlights and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

2013 Audi RS6 Avant interior2013 Audi RS6 Avant paddle shifter2013 Audi RS6 Avant drive select display2013 Audi RS6 Avant center console

Audi estimates 3.9 seconds for a dalliance with 100 kmh.

So, it's a holy terror... with a super hot auto-dimming rearview mirror. But it's also, of course, possibly the most practical expensive holy terror you'll ever come across. The RS performance seats up front – manual fore-aft adjustment, but automated all other ways – and the slightly elevated rear bench are comfortable, very supportive, and with buckets of space for all five folks aboard. In back, cargo is decent at between 20.0 cubic feet and nearly 60.0 cu-ft when you fold the seats and load to the roof like a coed returning to the dorms. Load flexibility is just enough back there, and this RS6 Avant also has a floor cargo net, a low load barrier on aluminum runners to keep everything from flying forward on hard stops, a vertical separation net and a cargo-hiding retractable cover.

Yadda-yadda, practical schmactical – I'm here for the 4.0-liter EA 824 bi-turbo V8 bolted into the eight-tenths-of-an-inch-lowered RS chassis. Audi estimates 3.9 seconds for a dalliance with 100 kmh, so we took the liberty of knocking off a tenth for the sake of the 0-to-60-mph run, making it 3.8 seconds. Yet if the RS6 Avant, as hefty as it is, doesn't do this dash in 3.5 seconds or less, I'll be the one most surprised. Driving this wagon on the various loops around Munich, I had a mental image of this ultra-hot A6 wagon rumbling along and my body attached to the steering wheel just waving like a banner flapping in the wind. The RS6 Avant is exactly this omnipotent, authoritative and dominating. Yet fuel use is 30-percent more efficient than the previous model's V10 thanks in part to the cylinder-on-demand technology, in part to the start-stop function and in great part to the higher-pressure and altogether wiser fuel-injection system.

2013 Audi RS6 Avant engine

At 190 mph, every single fuel-saving boast of the new V8 is thrown out the window.

The Autobahn was drying off after a rain when I merged onto it, and was thus clean. It was also relatively empty and a three-laner. So off I went, torpedoes be damned. At 190 mph, every single fuel-saving boast of the new V8 with COD and start-stop is summarily thrown out the window as the Audi swigs the heady fuel liqueur, mad with power. Countryside in the periphery became a blur as my eyes stared bolt forward. The chassis' stability on 21-inch Pirellis is as though on the proverbial rails. The gusts of wind that happen following a storm front blowing through get shattered by the RS6 Avant ramrod, though this wagon does present one helluva frontal area with which to be dealt. Whatever windblown sidesteps that happen at this speed are deftly and subtly corrected by the sleek RS6 Avant shooting through the atmosphere. Coming down off such a multi-mile fling is sensational stuff – it's as though the Audi is asking you for a cigarette after all that passion-letting.

Leaving Audi Drive Select in full Dynamic mode via the onboard interface results in great exhilaration. But switching to Comfort or Auto and hanging loose in everyday driving is equally fine. The behavior of the eight-speed gearbox as dictated by the dedicated ECU is calibrated in expert fashion to allow complete smoothness whenever desired. Leave it in Dynamic mode at in-town speeds, though, and the loud sucking sound from the off-throttle backdraft of the optional RS Sport exhaust can also result in notable lurches from the powertrain. (Maybe it's just best to keep it at 190 mph at all times?)

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The RS6 treatment is ridiculously better than the already good S6 treatment.

That might not make for a refined drive, but I love this track-car style of reaction; this is RennSport, kids, not some cash-dragging marketing exercise like some other models wearing the RS badge. The RS6 treatment is ridiculously better than the already good S6 treatment. Given that the base price would work out to around $107,000 if it ever came to the United States, it had damned well better be, too. That's getting toward Porsche Panamera GTS territory, so there's no messing about with half measures allowed.

Even on tighter technical bits of Bavarian two-lane, the lowered RS6 Avant on its Italian treads, more rigid springs and adaptive RS dampers continues to wildly impress. The sheer thrust that one feels increasingly comfortable – and safe – carrying through curves is truly shocking, while understeer is nicely managed and the sport differential heightens the all-conquering feeling at the wheel. There's a lot of car here, but it has received the correct heart transplant from quattro GmbH, and its mass feels almost light in most maneuvers. Add in the rear-biased quattro all-wheel drive and ceramic brake discs, and the sports-car feel simply grows. And all the while that new RS exhaust music just makes me swoon.

2013 Audi RS6 Avant rear 3/4 view2013 Audi RS6 Avant grille2013 Audi RS6 Avant wheel detail2013 Audi RS6 Avant exhaust tip

They tell me that the RS7 will essentially be identical to this setup, and weigh 110 pounds less.

The Audi marketing folks tell me that the RS7 will essentially be identical to this setup, and not softened up in any way, when it arrives at the very end of this year in the States. And they reminded me that the RS7 configuration weighs 110 pounds less than this RS6 Avant. For the RS7, we can look forward to paying upwards of $112,000. So far, there is approval to have the optional Dynamic Package for reaching 174 mph, but the Dynamic Plus Package as tested here has yet to get the green light. This all has something to do with the specific carbon ceramic brake disc supply, so it is likely that the 190-mph Dynamic Plus and all its goodies will arrive Stateside later in 2014.

If all this comes to pass as promised, North American Audi RS seekers might not have the emotion of this thunderwagon, but a similarly steroidal RS7 Sportback is not a half-bad thing to look forward to.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 113 Comments
      latebloomer
      • 1 Year Ago
      This car is awesome.. Audi should at least bring the s6 avant to USA and I will purchase. I guess I have to save up for the e63 wagon..
      Rob
      • 1 Year Ago
      Even though it would be a limited production special model it would be nice if a few hundred examples could be imported to North America. If i hit powerball..I need to get a place somewhere in europe so it can be in my gararge...one can dream
      Sean
      • 1 Year Ago
      The front visage of the RS6 is easily the best in the company's history, especially when it's kitted-out with the optional full-LED headlamps, decked out in semi-gloss matte dark grey, and with either the carbon or silver optics trimming. I'm part of the huge majority of enthusiasts that thinks their design template is getting tired and over-used, but with the styling freedom granted by LED tech, along with some choice 3D design elements and contrasting trim, I think they have another half to full generation left to squeeze this look out.
      Eta Carinae
      • 1 Year Ago
      i just dont share the love with everbody on hatches, but i can say audi is doing things i once would have never thought........these RS model seem to be more prestigous then BMW's M line use to be........actually making me want one v.s. saying oh yeah that looks cool.......I tip my hat to you audi...just watch out for the V's :^)
      wooootles
      • 1 Year Ago
      $112000? (for the RS7, dont care about RS6 because we won't get it) FUUUUU- Already though, the S6/S7 is doing 3.7-3.9 0-60 launches. I imagine RS7 hitting 3.3 (heavier, less powerful S8 does 3.5 0-60). Possible with their catapult-like AWD launches.
        PatrickH
        • 1 Year Ago
        @wooootles
        Those numbers are all close because even with AWD, when you're at that kind of power level you're traction limited. Obviously the RS models will smoke the S6/7 to 100 mph and beyond.
      stp
      • 1 Year Ago
      I want to be mad at Autoblog for reviewing awesome vehicles that are not planned for the US market. If it's not coming here, then don't rub my nose in it! Then I realize it's Audi I'm mad at , not Autoblog. Hello, CTS-V wagon? AMG wagon? WTF, Audi?! Then I'm just mad at everyone. Now I understand what it's like to be Dan Roth.
      rsxvue
      • 1 Year Ago
      If I was rich enough to buy one of these things, you can bet one would be parked in my driveway right now. The next best thing I can resort to is an STi hatchback.
      FIDTRO
      • 1 Year Ago
      Fantastic car, performance and luxury all wrapped around practicality and utility. WANT.
      Marco
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wow...so much win! The grey one with the tan interior from this year's Geneva show was just nasty! :-). For the life of me I still don't understand why they can't bring it over like Mercedes does with their E63 wagon...on a custom order basis...even if its more expensive than it would be if brought in higher volumes...I'm sure they don't sell many, but somehow they made a case for bringing them here. I agree this car is for car geeks and enthusiasts (myself included). For the record, I'm fortunate...I can afford to buy one new, but they'll never bring it...I think the culprit, aside from the general car buying public, is also AoA...for not making a strong enough case to Audi for bringing it over.
        sparrk
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Marco
        Originally , BMW didn't want to build the M3 CSL, but they were flooded with requests from customers, so they changed their mind. Maybe AoA can be persuaded too.
          Matthew Davis
          • 1 Year Ago
          @sparrk
          M3 CSL........so love. Driven a few and every time have been shaken back to my senses. Remarkable car.
          Marco
          • 1 Year Ago
          @sparrk
          Amen brotha! Hopefully they'll come to their senses :-)
      EB110Americana
      • 1 Year Ago
      Instantly one of my favorite Audis. I would be majorly bummed about its US absence if not for the RS7, which I'll love even more. Same car, lighter, sexier...a fine consolation prize for us Yanks. I know the people needing a wagon won't be satisfied, but such is life. Obviously the RS6 isn't rated by the EPA, having not been certified for sale here, but there's no way this thing would get 31mpg highway. With all the cylinder deactivation, direct injection, start-stop, and small displacement, I can believe 17 mpg city (or maybe 15-16), but 26mpg highway seems more likely based on similar versions of this engine in other cars...Not that anyone dropping $100 grand on a car is going to lose any sleep over a few MPGs.
      RocketRed
      • 1 Year Ago
      Oh but Audi you fail so much because of no diesel and no manual!!!11! Did I get that right? This thing is really scrumptious. I just saw an RS6 at lunch and really almost got weak at the knees. Perferct proportion, perfect balance between looking lux and looking burly. As with many German cars, the wagon version idealizes the design. My wife was heard muttering about replacing her wagon with a CUV and I think a look at this ought to cure those vapors.
        ChaosphereIX
        • 1 Year Ago
        @RocketRed
        it is in the prenup that my wife and I will never have a minivan or cuv/suv. If we need the utility for the kids, it will be a powerful wagon like this RS6 or a TurboX Sportcombi, V70-R, or something of the like. But I was shuttled around in the back of a Chevette when I was a kid, and we got around just fine. CUVs have absolutely no purpose when you really look at what they are supposed to be [sporty and utility], they are the marketing darling of the decade...WAGONS FOR EVER!!!
      Justin Campanale
      • 1 Year Ago
      You know what I hate about German car companies? They have good looking, competitive wagons on the other side of the pond. They bring them over here, and don't advertise them, and give them a steep price hike, and give them fewer options than sedans. And then when their sales are bad, they say, "See? Americans don't like wagons!" And you know what happens. And then afterward, they cook up some X6-esque, ultra-niche, 4 door coupe SUV lump of ugliness, expecting that it will sell by the boatload.
        RL to RL
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Justin Campanale
        Steep price hike? German cars are damn cheap compared to how much they're sold for over in Europe. Don't know why people to this day still whine about cars being expensive in the US, considering pretty much every other country's buyers beside the US has to pay much more. Another prime example is Australia. Go live there THEN whine about expensive cars. And be realistic, most people these days don't want to pay 50k+ for a wagon in the US, and most of that minuscule group who claim they will end up not putting their money where their mouth is, and just expect to pay for used ones.
        Matthew Davis
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Justin Campanale
        What irks me, too, is that those damned X6-like SUVs do sell in relative boatloads. People want what they want. Goldangitall!
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