Audi RS6 Avant (2012) new CAR spy shots | CAR Magazine

Audi RS6 Avant (2012) new CAR spy shots

Published: 18 April 2012 Updated: 26 January 2015

This is the new Audi RS6 Avant, snapped testing at the Nürburgring – it’s a 542bhp über-wagon that goes on sale in the UK in 2013. Powered by a new twin-turbo V8 engine, this is the third-generation RS6 Avant, and its 542bhp powertrain and Quattro chassis will also find its way into Audi’s A6-based A7 to create a new RS7 Sportback. It’s not yet clear whether the exitence of the RS7 means no saloon version of the new RS6.

So what sort of monstrous engine is producing 542bhp in the new 2012 Audi RS6 Avant?

The last RS6 Avant, and its saloon sibling, were both powered by a twin-turbo 5.0-litre V10, which put out a gargantuan 572bhp, and a barely believable 479lb ft all the way from 1500rpm to 6250rpm. But back at that car’s launch in early 2008 Audi engineers hinted that the RS6 could be the most powerful car the company ever produced…

And that looks like it will remain the case, as this third-generation RS6 Avant is believed to be less powerful than its predecessor. The RS6’s new engine is a 4.0-litre V8, which we’ve so far seen in the Audi S6, S7 and S8, and the Bentley Continental GT V8. There are two turbos, direct injection, and a cylinder deactivation system that means it can run as a four-pot.

In S6 and S7 guise the 4.0-litre engine produces 414bhp and 406lb ft, in the S8 it has 512bhp and 479lb ft, and it’s 500bhp and 487lb ft when installed in the Bentley. With some tweaks here and there, the headline figures should be pushed up to 542bhp and 516lb ft for the RS6 Avant. And looking at Audi’s past RS6 models, the current TT RS Plus, and the super-rich clientele that buy this car, we wouldn’t bet against a special edition ‘Plus’ iteration appearing later in the car’s lifecycle…

What other details do you have on the new RS6 Avant?

The S6 and S7 use Audi’s twin-clutch and seven-speed S-tronic transmission, but we hear that, like the S8 and Continental V8, the RS6 will use an eight-speed torque converter automatic to send the engine’s colossal outputs to all four wheels. Yes, of course a Quattro drivetrain is standard.

The RS6 Avant our spies have snapped at the Nürburgring might be a taped-up prototype, but there’s no disguising the more aggressive bodykit, swollen front and rear wheelarches, and trademark RS oval exhausts – lesser S models sport quad tailpipes. Those wheels look to be at least 20-inches in size, and humongous ceramic brakes should be a very costly option.

There’ll be comprehensive tuning of the chassis by Quattro GmbH, the arm of Audi responsible for the RS cars, and the new A6’s aluminium-intensive structure should mean this new RS6 Avant is lighter than its predecessor. Together with the more efficient engine it means we should see official fuel economy climb above 25mpg and CO2 emissions dip below 250g/km – the last RS6’s rather dirty figures were 20.1mpg and 333g/km.

The Audi RS6 Avant could be revealed at the 2012 Paris motor show this autumn, and we expect the RS7 Sportback to appear six months later. Expect to pay at least £80k for an Audi RS6 Avant when UK sales start in 2013.

>> What do you think of the new Audi RS6 Avant? Click ‘Add your comment’ below and have your say

By Ben Pulman

Ex-CAR editor-at-large