Testing performance cars in the wet is never ideal, but in the UK it’s occasionally unavoidable. It’s good, then, that the latest Audi RS6 didn’t just feel capable on damp Leicestershire roads; it actually shone.
The twin-turbo 5.0-litre V10 from the previous RS6 has been ditched in favour of a twin-turbo 552bhp 4.0-litre V8, but the all-important quattro four-wheel-drive system remains. And it’s this combination that allowed us to set a 0-62mph time of 3.6 seconds in the RS6 – in the wet. That sort of straight line pace puts it on a par with the likes of the Ferrari FF and the Lamborghini Gallardo.
Officially, Audi claims a 0-62mph time of 3.9 seconds. That’s stil seven-tenths quicker than the old car’s 0-62mph time, despite power dropping by 20bhp. You can thank the extra torque, 100kg weight saving, new eight-speed auto box and launch control system for the improvements. But it’s not just off the line that the RS6 feels quick – accelerate hard at 80mph and there’s an aggressive hit of neck-snapping torque.
Take the RS6 through some corners, and you’ll find it has the same unflappable stability and grip as other performance four-wheel-drive Audis. The steering gets quicker and weights up to provide almost instant turn-in, and flooring the throttle on the way out of a bend barely does anything to unsettle it.
Yet while it’s very capable, a Mercedes E63 AMG provides far more in the way of adjustability and involvement. Still, we were surprised by just how comfortable the RS6 is. With the Dynamic suspension fitted – a £1,000 option – it’s compliant over bumps even in its firmest setting, and in Comfort mode it’s not far off a VW Golf, with a gentle cushioning over rough roads.
The RS6 is pretty sensible on fuel economy, too. By fitting a cylinder deactivation system and dropping two cylinders, Audi has improved fuel consumption by 30 per cent over the old car. It now officially stands at 28.8mpg – although after one particularly hard drive with us, the trip computer read 13mpg.
Then, of course, there’s the practicality, with a 565-litre boot and spacious rear seats. For all its abilities, though, the RS6 commands a hefty price tag. It starts from £75,500, but add a couple of options and it’ll quickly exceed £80,000. The E63 AMG is in similar territory, and while it may be down on performance, from behind the wheel it feels more desirable.