Audi RS6 Review

Is this the true spiritual successor to the original Quattro?

Every car person will remember the original 1980s Audi ur-Quattro, something of a legend of road and rally stages. It made its name as a WRC champion having taken the world rallying championship by storm with its stunning all-wheel drive system, out-pacing just about every contender out there, until they followed suit and also developed cars capable of sending torque to all four wheels. 

On the road it was the thinking Yuppie’s Porsche 911 – solid German build quality, supercar-baiting performance, physics-defying grip and yet humble but elegant daily-driver appeal in a relatively practical coupe body. More recently it was made famous as a road car appearing in hit TV series, ‘Ashes to Ashes’ (the follow up to ‘Life on Mars’), rallying (so to speak) to the cry of ‘Fire Up The Quattro’. 

Of course, nowadays all highly specced Audis are ‘Quattros’ – even the electric ones. They’re all stupendously capable and reassuringly grippy. But they’re not the original Quattro (now with an ‘ur-‘ prefix to give it the distinction of being the progenitor). Indeed, perhaps somewhat sadly, there isn’t necessarily a direct descendent, unless you maybe count the RS4 hatchback. 

However, in the context of something that stands heads-and-shoulders above all others, that sets a bar so high that rivals simply brain themselves on it in their futile attempts to leap over it, that stuns and engages in a manner few can match even from within its own stable of not entirely undistinguished offerings (the R8 supercar for example), the ur-Quattro has no modern equivalent. 

Or so you might think. And to give you some clue as to what could be perceives as a modern ur-Quattro, I had it redressed in recognisable livery to perhaps jog your imagination. Mine certainly needed no nudge, as each time I got behind the wheel of the extraordinary Audi RS6 Avant, marvelled at its majesty, revelled in its practicality, and exulted in the singular explosion of octane-induced hysteria on once again firing up a quattro, I instantly found myself in race overalls reaching for some pace notes. 

Of course, with pace notes comes a co-driver, and I could easily accommodate three or them in this thing, and still have little impact on performance thanks to having about 600bhp from a twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 along with a staggering 800Nm of torque. All of this capable of catapulting this two-tonne automobile from rest to 62mph in just 3.6 seconds. 

Opting for the Vorsprung specification feels like doing something illegal, it’s as if you’ve passed a brown enveloped full of additional Euro’s to a computer boffin on the production line, who then removes the speed limiter when the supervisor is on his Bratwurst break. Which means a max velocity of 175mph available to you, the spouse, your kids and Alfie the Alsatian who’s never ever managed to leave any drool on the dog guard, because he’s always pinned against the back window. 

That’s not to dismiss the outstanding cargo-carrying capacity, opulent cabin comfort and all the usual luxury features typically found in a £100k German super-exec. Except for massage seats (Audi do great ones) or soft-closing doors (a more surprising omission). Otherwise, you’ll want for nothing, nor will you want for dynamic ability. 

Configure the driving modes and set-up the RS shortcuts on the steering wheel – I prefer everything dialled up but the ride left in comfort on our terribly uneven pathways built for us by the Romans, and not much improved since. Though it would be unfair to say your passengers would be shaken and bruised in Sports mode, but it’s just more giving and better damped in Comfort. 

Which is good, because it’s enough for them to be contending with g-forces both longitudinally and latitudinally, as this car grips, with only the merest hint of understeer when you really start to push it, and if you are doing that on a public road, you should be locked away. 

Apart from the thirst for the expensive potion of fuel (22mpg) and pumping out a tax-baiting 295g/km of CO2, there then is the only other downside of running this vehicle. Don’t let your fantasies get you too carried away, or you will be, by plod. Don’t think either that this unassuming family estate car (even sans my faux livery) won’t stand out and attract unwanted attention. 

That may have been somewhat true of previous iterations, but an injection of styling steroids, sees this thing pumped up with bulging fenders and sharply cut facial features. With neighbours used to ignoring a series of sexy metal in my parking space it was this, of all things, that attracted the most attention of recent times – I’m pretty sure it’s appeared on a several Facebook feeds and Grams. It caused one neighbour to request, for the first time ever, a passenger ride – I duly obliged of course. 

Sensational to behold, jaw-dropping to experience (if my neighbour is anything to go by) this RS6 does it all. But where can you do it all? Not in London, that’s for sure. Merely breath on the throttle and you’re already too quick, never mind stomping on it to get the full aural delights of the big motor. It’s a car you’ll want to drive often and hard, and take along overawed witnesses for the ride. For that you need to live somewhere else, and own a petrol station. If you do, you should get one without hesitation, because the RS6 Avant remains my favourite Audi. Just one request – have it stickered up in livery like this as a tribute to its storied ancestor. 

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