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First drive: Audi's astronomical new RS6 Avant

Action Avant: New RS6 appeared first in wagon guise at the 2007 Frankfurt show, and will be joined by the (facelifted) RS6 sedan next year.

Audi storms Down Under with the world's fastest wagon, the twin-turbo V10 RS6 Avant

31 Oct 2008

AUDI has just released the second-generation RS6 Avant, which packs a monster twin-turbo V10 that generates an incredible 426kW, making it the world’s fastest wagon.

With more power and torque than the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Estate and the BMW M5 Touring (which is not available here), the RS6 Avant can storm to 100km/h in just 4.6 seconds.

It is a remarkable time given the new RS6 wagon weighs more than a Ford Territory, tipping the scales at 2025kg (and that’s a ‘dry weight’ figure without any fluids in it).

Top speed is electronically limited at 250km/h and another large number is the price. The RS6 Avant costs an eye-popping $270,946.

With that kind of cash you could easily buy a Porsche 911 (with $70,000 to spare), an E63 AMG wagon (with $25,000 to spare) a Porsche Cayenne Turbo S or a Maserati Quttroporte.

For the ultra-well heeled, Audi is also offering a high-performance ceramic brake package for the RS6 that costs $20,867.

The new RS6 takes over from the previous model, phased out in 2005, which had to make do with a double boosted V8. For now, the new RS6 is a wagon only, but a sedan will come early next year.

Before it introduced the R8 supercar, Audi was promoting its performance credentials with the RS4 and the previous model RS6 Avant.

Unlike BMW, which process M versions of several cars at the same time, Audi only ever makes one RS model at a time. This is due to line issues at its Neckarsulm plant. So, the awesome RS4 was taken off the market and replaced by this RS6 Avant.

7 center imageAudi decided to tap Lamborghini, which it owns, for an engine to drop in the RS6. The 90-degree 5.0-litre V10, with direct-injection and dry sump lubrication, is based on the unit that powers the Gallardo.

Audi decided to bolt a turbocharger on each cylinder bank, running up to 1.6-bar of boost pressure - a move that sent power and torque levels soaring.

The maximum power output of 426kW is achieved between 6250rpm and 6700rpm, while maximum torque of 650Nm and is available all the way from 1500rpm through to 6250rpm - fed through all four wheels using Audi’s quattro system, which employs a self-locking centre differential.

The only transmission available is a six-speed automatic. Audi says the new gearbox can react in one tenth of a second and is far quicker than any other comparable transmission. It is not a dual-clutch automatic, however.

As you could imagine, the RS6 Avant uses a fair amount of fuel, with an official combined consumption figure of 14 litres per 100km.

The RS6 Avant is not simply an A6 wagon with go-fast bits installed. It has a special wider body with pumped-out guards to account for the wider track of performance version.

Audi has fitted the RS6 Avant with Dynamic Ride Control, which uses hydraulic lines connected to diagonally opposing shock absorbers. The idea is that the cornering forces send fluid to the suspension damper on the outside of the car in a bid to cut bodyroll.

This system is now supported by new suspension dampers with external cylinders that allow for more accurate control of the damping fluid. The damping can be controlled by the MMI centre control unit with the driver choosing from Sport, Dynamic and Comfort modes.

Audi has fitted the RS6 Avant with 20-inch rims wrapped with super low-profile 275/35-section tyres. Six-piston aluminium callipers and huge 390mm front discs take care of braking at the front of the car, while single-piston callipers latch onto 356mm discs at the rear.

The RS6 comes with a specially-tuned electronic stability control system that allows the car to step sideways a little before intercepting. When the owner feels like pushing harder, the ESC can be turned off completely.

Apart from its bulging wheel-arches, features that distinguish the RS6 Avant from its A6 sibling include LED daytime running lights and Xenon headlights, side skirts, extended bumpers, large air ducts, deep front and rear bumpers, a rear spoiler and twin oval exhaust pipes.

As you could imagine with such a high asking price, the RS6 Avant comes loaded with gear including MMI command controller and screen, TV reception and satellite-navigation, keyless starting, a sunroof, dual-zone air-conditioning, cornering headlights, a premium Bose sound system, a flat-bottom sports steering, leather sports seats, heated front seats and carbon-fibre interior trim sections.

Safety features include driver and passenger front and side airbags, as well as full-length side curtain airbags.

Surprisingly, customers still have to pay extra for MP3/iPod connection ($583) and a rear parking camera ($1271).

Other options include dark alloy wheels at $530, adaptive cruise control for $4449, unique front sports seats at $7851, tinted windows at $1038 and an automatically closing tailgate at $1483.

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