Audi RS6 Avant (2013-2018) review - Engines, performance and drive

The RS6 Avant is one of the fastest cross-country family cars on the market

At its core, the Audi RS6 Avant is much like other super fast Audis, as it has explosive power and masses of grip, but it all feels a bit clinical and detached in the way it performs.  

There’s so much performance on tap that it’s hard to use it on the road, even with quattro four-wheel drive, while the Audi feels a little subdued in corners. There’s no shortage of grip and the upgraded air-suspension system provides rock-solid body control, but there’s not much feedback through the major controls, especially the light steering.

Choosing the Drive Select system’s sportiest mode sharpens the throttle and helps reduce understeer by engaging a more aggressive setting on the electronically controlled Sports rear diff, but it also adds too much weighting to the steering. Make no mistake, the four-wheel-drive Audi is devastatingly quick on twisting roads, particularly in the wet, but it’s not that engaging.

Still, what the Audi lacks in driver involvement it makes up for with top-notch refinement. There’s virtually no wind noise on the motorway and in its comfort setting, the air springs soak up bumps well – only deep potholes really ruffle the RS6, and you could easily use it as daily transport, as long as you're happy to suck up the running costs.

Engines

With the traction of quattro all-wheel drive the 552bhp RS6 Avant accelerates from 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds, while the 597bhp Performance version shaves two tenths of a second off that time, at 3.7 seconds. There's no launch control, but we've extracted a 0-60mph time of 3.4 seconds from the standard car in damp conditions, so there's no doubting Audi's claims. Top speed is limited to 155mph, unless you opt for the Dynamic pack which raises the limiter to 174mph, or the Dynamic pack Plus, which bumps it up to 189mph.

The Audi’s real world in-gear performance is equally impressive, and above 4,000rpm the RS6 accelerates even more ferociously than its key rivals. Adding to the drama is the eight-speed twin-clutch Tiptronic transmission, which provides rapid-fire shifts via the steering wheel-mounted paddles, plus it delivers a crisp throttle blip on downchanges.

The RS6 Avant’s V8 may serve up blistering performance, but in standard guise it sounds a little muted alongside the vocal Mercedes E63. We'd recommend the optional sports exhaust, as it delivers a more imposing soundtrack, with pops and bangs on the overrun in Dynamic mode. It's also standard on the RS6 Avant Performance, and more than justifies the faster model's extra outlay.

Most Popular

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox
Dacia Duster gear lever
News

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox

With more drivers learning in autos and electric cars, the DVSA is looking to update the driving test so people can still drive manuals in future
16 Jun 2021
New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power
Vauxhall Astra render
Vauxhall Astra

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power

The new Vauxhall Astra will get a plug-in hybrid powertrain and a more premium image - here’s how it could look
17 Jun 2021
Tesla Model 3 police car all set for evaluation by UK emergency services
Tesla Model 3 police car - front
News

Tesla Model 3 police car all set for evaluation by UK emergency services

Tesla hopes to offer UK police forces a new zero-emission emergency responder option with the Model 3 police car
17 Jun 2021
Motorists think they can get away with driving offences due to lack of road police
police speed gun
News

Motorists think they can get away with driving offences due to lack of road police

Lack of road traffic police officers in the UK is making it easy for drivers to break the law, according to a survey of 15,500 British motorists
16 Jun 2021
New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review
Audi Q4 e-tron 2021  front
Audi Q4 e-tron

New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review

We get involved with the new all-electric Audi Q4 e-tron SUV on UK roads for the first time
17 Jun 2021
Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review
Ineos Grenadier prototype
Ineos Grenadier 4x4

Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review

Can the Ineos Grenadier really fill the mud-splattered void left by the old Land Rover Defender? We take a first drive in a prototype to find out...
15 Jun 2021
Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition revealed
Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition
Ford Puma

Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition revealed

Ford unveils a special edition Puma ST, with a black and gold colour scheme chosen by Ford fans over social media
18 Jun 2021
UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars
Electric car charging
News

UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars

Analysis reveals lithium refining takes 65 per cent of Chilean region’s water, while 40,000 child miners dig for cobalt in DRC
14 Jun 2021
New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review
Nissan Qashqai 2021
Nissan Qashqai

New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review

We get behind the wheel of the larger, more comfortable and higher-tech Nissan Qashqai SUV in the UK
16 Jun 2021
New 2021 Hyundai Tucson N-Line hybrid and PHEV on sale now
Hyundai Tuscon N Line - front
Hyundai Tucson

New 2021 Hyundai Tucson N-Line hybrid and PHEV on sale now

Hyundai names price for new Tucson N-Line hybrid duo with plug-in offering 38 miles of electric running
18 Jun 2021
New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review
Skoda Enyaq iV 80 Sportline - front
Skoda Enyaq

New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review

The new Skoda Enyaq iV is the Czech firm’s first bespoke electric car and we've tested the full range on UK roads
10 Jun 2021
New Mercedes-AMG S 63 spied in minimal camouflage
Mercedes-AMG S 63
Mercedes S-Class

New Mercedes-AMG S 63 spied in minimal camouflage

AMG will soon launch a tuned version of Mercedes’s flagship limousine, probably powered by a 603bhp twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine
18 Jun 2021
Dacia unveils new badge design
Dacia badge
Dacia

Dacia unveils new badge design

The new Dacia branding will feature on the company’s cars from 2022, with the Bigster being the first candidate
17 Jun 2021
Porsche unveils next-generation PCM infotainment system with Android Auto 
Porsche Communication Management 6.0 911
Porsche

Porsche unveils next-generation PCM infotainment system with Android Auto 

Porsche’s sixth-generation touchscreen will be rolled out across the firm’s line-up, adding new connectivity features and natural voice control
17 Jun 2021