There’s a birthday party under way in Ingolstadt and a small group of Germans are feeling very pleased with themselves. Rightly so, as it’s definitely worth celebrating 20 years since the creation of the one of the best cars you can ever hope to drive. Now in its 4th generation, and arguably better than ever, the Audi RS 6 has securely cemented its place in motoring history.
Back in 2002, Audi was faced with the question of which car the engineers would give a sporty renovation to after the RS 4. Following some thought, a little tweaking to the body, and a massive chunk of extra power, the RS 6 was born.
The defining fast estate car
Across those two decades and four generations, the Audi RS 6 has largely defined the high-performance estate car. It’s seen a few changes over the years, but the RS 6 has always maintained its position as one of the most powerful and desirable cars on the road, and the original ‘Wolf in sheep’s clothing’.
What began as a 450bhp turbocharged V8 has seen the power output rise, as well as the switch to a V10 and back again. It’s gone from a manual to automatic transmission to control the power better. It has also seen various design changes that have made it more or less aggressive in appearance depending on the generation. About the only thing that remains from the original is the fantastic quattro all-wheel drive system, the brilliant Dynamic Ride Control chassis, and the philosophy of building a stupendously quick car that still manages to be subtle and understated.
V8 biturbo power for latest model
The current generation of the RS 6 appeared in 2019 with a clear contrast between it and the base model, A6 Avant. It boasts wider wheel arches, bigger exhausts, and only three of the body panels (the roof, front doors, and tailgate) are shared with the standard car. Despite being based on an existing model, almost every component is exclusive to the RS 6. It’s even possible to decide whether an RS 6 should be more or less of an understatement based on the numerous exterior and interior equipment variants and design packages.
The current RS 6 was also the first to come as a 48-volt mild hybrid. A belt alternator starter (BAS) replaces the alternator. It has an additional electrical system with 48 volts and its own battery. While coasting or braking, it generates more energy than a conventional generator. In every other situation, it puts less strain on the engine. When it made its world premiere, the RS 6 was the first and only mild hybrid technology in its segment.
Audi may have ditched the V10 but you’re really not missing out on anything. The RS 6 now boasts a 4.0-litre biturbo V8 that produces around 600bhp and 800 Nm of torque. It races to 62 mph in a blistering 3.6 seconds and it only requires 12 seconds to reach a licence-shredding 124 mph. In terms of acceleration there isn’t much that won’t be left standing by the big Audi.
And it manages all of that supercar performance while still providing a comfortable ride, space for adults in the back, and the flexibility and practicality of an estate car. You also get the benefits of an Audi interior, which just happens to be one of the best around in terms of comfort, equipment, and build quality.
The only downside of the Audi RS 6 is the suitably hefty price tag that accompanies it. Which is why leasing one is probably your best bet to get behind the wheel of an iconic car that just keeps getting better.
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