Audi RS6 saloon

Don’t be deceived by the subtle looks – this all-wheel-drive four-door is a real brute

No speed challenge would be complete without one of Audi’s finest supersaloons. Matching practicality with all-wheel-drive usability, RS-badged models have always accelerated to the top of the performance charts.

Of all the German firm’s fast cars, the most tantalising spec sheet arguably belongs to the mighty Audi RS6. Five seats and a big boot come as standard, along with R8 levels of performance!

This is the most powerful production Audi ever built, and we tested it in Avant estate form last year (Issue 1,024). Here, we strap into the saloon version for the first time. Power comes from a 5.0-litre twin-turbo V10, which produces a massive 650Nm of torque. Like an athlete in a pin stripe suit, it hides serious performance beneath its business-like exterior. While it’s subtle, the flared arches, 20-inch wheels and discreet RS6 badge mean that enthusiasts wouldn’t mistake this for a standard A6.

Once behind the wheel, there’s certainly no hiding this Audi’s potential. Press the start button and from beneath the bonnet there’s a subdued growl from the mighty V10 engine.

Tightly packaged in the nose, the direct-injection unit features twin-turbos, and to ensure oil flow remains constant during heavy cornering, it has the same kind of dry-sump lubrication as a race car. The RS6’s acceleration leaves you speechless. In our first run on a still damp track, we covered 0-60mph in 4.3 seconds, and went on to reach 100mph in 9.4 seconds.

Those are amazing statistics, yet the really impressive thing is just how effortless the Audi makes this acceleration feel. The quattro all-wheel-drive system delivers fuss-free standing starts and impressive traction, while the six-speed tiptronic gearbox has a quick, smooth action. If you use the steering wheel-mounted paddles you get a warbling sound on each upshift. The sheer ease at which the RS6 builds speed is startling.

The massive reserves of torque mean forward thrust can be turned on like a tap in any gear, at virtually any speed. Thanks to the big Audi’s silky smooth refinement you have to keep a wary eye on the speedo, because it’s easy to forget just how fast you’re travelling.

Active dampers provide a smooth ride quality and high-speed stability is excellent. As a result, on a test track this car cruises at double the motorway speed limit with less fuss than some vehicles make at 70mph. You can even pay an extra £1,320 and get the 155mph speed limiter removed, providing you with a maximum of 175mph.

The RS6 is just as accomplished when cornering, too. It shakes off its considerable kerbweight to offer scintillating performance, proving that it is possible to wrap a supercar package in a four-door body.

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