Car reviews - Audi - A6 - RS6 Avant Performance
Aggressive styling, lagless outputs, grip and poise that defies the hefty kerb weight, unearthly acceleration
Room for improvement
Engine note not that of the naturally-aspirated Audi V8s, annoying auto park brake function no good for track work, RS7 Sportback not big on rear headroom
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12 Apr 2016
AS THE head-up display reads 200km/h and the speed alert chimes in, the Audi RS6 Avant is still accelerating hard down the Phillip Island straight as Bass Strait appears in the background.
The big wagon could just as easily be carrying two adults and a trio of youngsters to visit the penguin colony or heading to a nearby winery for lunch, but instead it’s devouring the 4.5km circuit at an indecent rate of speed for a road car.
The big brakes work hard to haul two tonnes down to a more sensible speed for the series of bends to come, which is where the kerb weight starts to come into the driver’s mind.
Steering is nicely weighted and there’s confidence in the front end as it enters the fast right hander.
It is a big machine and can start to feel it, but the grip of the all-wheel drive system and the electronics backing it (unless you’ve hit the snooze button on them) leave little cause for concern.
What is remarkable is the way it gathers pace again once the tyres have been worked through the fast sweeping bends, with only a distant rumble of the twin-turbo V8 to accompany the considerable thrust being unleashed.
From behind the grippy leather steering wheel, the ride comfort feels excellent (although with the disclaimer that we are only driving these two on a racetrack) and the quality of the interior unquestioned – contrast-stitched leather, carbon-fibre and Alcantara abound within, providing a first-grade cabin from which to direct the considerable urge.
A quality feel to the logically-placed switchgear and clear instrumentation are hallmarks of the Audi breed and the RS models are no different.
The upgraded leather cladding for the sports buckets is aesthetically pleasant as well as being comfortable, with plenty of lateral support to cope with the loads which can be put on the side bolsters.
Lapping initially in speedy convoy with naturally aspirated Audi V8s puts the quelled forced-induction engine note in perspective.
The muted soundtrack – a sign of the fuel-efficient times, but offset by oodles of torque – is still worth hearing as it soars toward 6000rpm.
The drive was restricted to laps of the Phillip Island track, which in itself is no chore but does little to demonstrate what the ride comfort on average Australian roads is like, but previous experience in the outgoing 'regular' RS6 would suggest the suspension can cope with most surfaces suburban Australia can throw at it.
Switching to the RS7 Sportback does little to dent the enthusiasm of heading out of pit lane again, and while the Sportback is a little lighter, it’s more of the same – linear thrust in considerable amounts, solid turn-in and grip in the corners and track manners that almost defy the two tonne kerb weight.
Serious performance drivers might not want to worry about upping the limiter to the other side of 300km/h but there was extra reassurance when the middle pedal was hit hard in the RS7, which had the Dynamic package plus option box ticked.
Spending the extra on the ceramic brake option will remove any lingering doubts that might be present themselves if you are going to spend a lot of time lapping a race circuit.
The steel brake system’s pedal can start to get long after more than a few fast laps of a racetrack, but even extreme public road use is unlikely to make ceramics a must-have.
Accommodation in the rear seat positions is comfortable enough in the wagon – head and legroom are more than adequate in the load-lugger, but the sloping roofline of the Sportback doesn’t bode well for anyone above average height in the back seat.
A price tag well on the wrong side of $200,000 ($245,400 plus on-road costs for the RS6 Avant and $258,000 for the RS7 Sportback) makes it academic for most, although the sportscar thrills wrapped in a daily driver shell mounts a strong two-for-the-price-of-one argument the driver’s seat of either RS is by far the best place to be, but it’s an exhilarating – if expensive – indulgence.
Put it on your Lotto list.
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