In-depth reviews

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.

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