► All-new 592bhp RS6 Avant
► Estate twin to new RS7
► Wicked wagon on sale early 2020
Audi might be inventively contorting its SUVs into all sorts of different shapes and sizes, but there’s one recipe it isn’t mucking about with: the new RS6, which makes its public debut at the Frankfurt motor show 2019.
The big estate with near-supercar pace is returning for its fourth generation (aka C8), though it isn’t quite as simple as copy and pasting the previous one.
New Audi RS6: engine and performance specs
Despite rumours of this RS6 becoming a plug-in hybrid and possibly adopting the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid’s 671bhp V8 petrol-electric powertrain, the RS6 retains its 4.0-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 engine. That makes it now the only V8 in the A6 and A7 family since the S6/S7 duo has swapped petrol V8 power for a V6 turbodiesel.
The RS6's turbos are 3mm larger and run an extra 0.25 bar of boost to help increase performance to 592bhp and 590lb ft – up 39bhp and 74lb ft on the previous model, if 5bhp less and 37lb ft more than the old Performance Pack model. The eight-speed ZF automatic transmission is already uprated to cope with extra torque, though we’d expect another RS6 PP to up the ante before too long.
It might be some 140kg heavier than before – so approaching a heavyweight 2100kg in total – but the RS6 isn’t slow: engage the new launch control feature and it’ll sprint from 0-62mph in 3.6 seconds, some 0.3sec faster than before and nothing less than astonishing for an estate the wrong side of two tonnes (up around 140kg on the previous model).
An electronically limited 155mph top speed is standard, but the Dynamic Package raises that to 174mph, or to 190mph with Dynamic Package Plus...
Nods to sustainability include cylinder deactivation, which carries over from the previous model (it shuts down four cylinders during gentler driving), and this time the RS6 adopts the 48-volt mild hybrid system from the rest of the range. It lets the RS6 coast at between 34mph and 99mph. No word on mpg yet, though.
The best hybrids and plug-ins: a CAR magazine guide
Tell me more about the RS6’s chassis and drivetrain
Standard air suspension now features new air springs that can stiffen by up to 50% more than the previous RS6, allowing this cushier set-up to be available with the 190mph raised maximum top speed for the first time. Optional Dynamic Ride Control also returns with its sportier steel coil suspension and adaptive dampers, the latter diagonally connected via oil lines. Now, though, the control valve is integrated within the dampers, not housed behind the rear bumper. It means you can fit a tow bar to a DRC-equipped RS6 and take your Caterham to a trackday. Everyone wins.
Quattro all-wheel drive defaults to a 40/60 front-to-rear split, but can channel a maximum 70% of drive to the front axle, 85% to the rear. Stability control can be disengaged, but unlike the BMW M5 or Merc E63 there’s no rear-wheel drive drift mode – Audi says RS6 customers don’t care, and it’s not really the point of a car like this.
You can, however, spice things up with the optional Sport rear diff and – an RS6 first – all-wheel steering. Spec the latter and it’s bundled with Dynamic steering and that set-up’s infinitely variable ratio. We’ll have to see on the wisdom of that call.
There’s a choice of 21-inch or optional 22-inch alloys, and even the standard stoppers feature 10-piston calipers with 420mm front and 370mm rear discs (the smaller brakes on CAR’s old RS6 long-termer were a bit marginal). The Dynamic Pack introduces carbon-ceramic brakes with grey, red or blue calipers and 440mm discs all-round, saving 34kg in unsprung mass.
Can I get an RS6 saloon?
The Avant (estate) bodystyle is your only choice, with an RS7 four-door fastback (expected later this year as part of Audi's already-announced explosion of future performance models) closest in concept to the old RS6 saloon.
Visually, only the roof, tailgate and front doors carry over from the standard A6 Avant, partly because the front and rear wheel arches swell to create an 80mm wider body. It’s naturally a far more aggressive appearance than a standard one or even the RS6 before it, and you can now spec the entre front grille in carbon. Inevitably, some of the old car’s discretion, understatement and surprise factor has been lost.
What about inside the RS6?
Standard equipment elsewhere includes a flat-bottomed leather steering wheel with aluminium paddles, sports seats in Nappa leather and Alcantara, plus Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster.
Existing RS6 owners will be familiar with the Audi Drive Select button that changes suspension/drivetrain/steering characteristics, but the Performance setting on the digital dash is new: it brings up a racecar-style rev counter, displays laptimes and g-force readings, and lets you keep an eye on temperatures for the oil, water, tyres and even Sport diff.
Meanwhile, Individual mode disappears in favour of new RS1 and RS2 selections – much like BMW M logic, they allow the driver to configure two personalised drive modes and then quickly access them with a press of a button. In the back, there’s a three-seat rear bench with integrated headrests, too.
When can I get a new RS6?
The new Audi RS6 is due on sale early in 2020, and we’ll find out how it drives later this year. UK prices have yet to be confirmed.
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