Audi RS6 revealed

This is the all-new 552bhp Audi RS6 super-estate, and it's the first of four RS models due in 2013

Audi has unveiled its new V8-powered 552bhp RS6 Avant – the first of four new RS models due on sale this year. The others are the RS5 Cabriolet (which effectively replaces the RS6 saloon), the RS7 and the first ‘Q’ model to wear the RS badge – the Q3 RS.

The RS6 ditches the old Lamborghini-derived V10 for a version of the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 from the S6, which is capable of shutting down four of its eight cylinders on light throttle loads. And while outright power can’t match its predecessor’s 572bhp output, the RS6’s performance has taken a significant step up.

The new car weighs 100kg less than the previous RS6, plus with a new eight-speed auto and 700Nm of torque, 0-62mph takes 3.9 seconds – a full seven-tenths faster than the old car. There’s now also the option of raising the speed limiter from 155mph to 189mph if you spec the Dynamic Plus package. Stop-start is now standard and helps fuel economy and CO2 emissions improve by 40 per cent, to 28.8mpg and 229g/km respectively.

The styling is typically restrained – even the blistered wheel arches from the previous model have been swapped for smooth, gently enhanced bulges - while the track width has grown by 42mm either side at the rear. A unique front-end treatment splits the single-frame grille into an upper and lower part – as an option, the lower part is emblazoned with 3D ‘quattro’ lettering.

Large wings in the lower air intakes, a frame for the lower grille and a lower splitter are all new additions and part of a careful calculation by Audi. “The idea is to give customers the option of changing lots of parts to carbon fibre if they want,” exterior designer Stefan Fahr-Becker told us.

The gloss-black rear diffuser can also be ordered in Carbon, while the massive twin-oval tailpipes come in chrome as standard or a moodier black finish if you opt for the switchable sports exhaust. According to Fahr-Becker, the 21-inch wheels inspired by the design from the 2010 quattro concept, are a “designer’s dream.”

Specifically tuned RS air suspension, which lowers the car by 20mm, is fitted as standard, although a firmer sport suspension with Dynamic Ride Control is also available. This uses steel springs and three-way adjustable shock absorbers for tighter body control. New wave design brake discs – which combine an aluminium hub with steel discs – are standard and save around 4kg in total, while huge 420mm carbon-ceramic stoppers are also available.

As per the RS4, a centre crown differential shuffles power between the front and rear, while a sports differential shares it out between the two rear tyres. There’s also a retuned ESP, optional dynamic ride control with a firmer baseline setting and active electromechanical steering – although select Dynamic mode in the Audi drive select system and it locks the ratio for a more direct feel at high speed.

You’ll be able to buy the RS6 from July and, while there’s no confirmation on UK pricing, it’s expected to start from just under £77,000.

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