Contrary to popular belief, Germans do have a sense of humour. How else would you explain 600+ horsepower in a car that can carry a family of four, granny and her wheelchair? We suspect her dog was windswept during a 0-100km/hr test drag…
In a space all its own
Attention seeking deficit is what this brightly-hued Audi suffers from. That is until you fire up the engine in Dynamic mode and scare the innocent bystanders in a state of utter disbelief. The 5-door, 5-seat estate form can easily be mistaken for a practical school-run wagon. Which it can be. But it can also be a Lamborghini in disguise!
That's no exaggeration. The 4.0 litre V8 biturbo engine under the muscular hood of the RS6 is quite similar to the one in the Urus or Huracan and is only slightly down on power compared to those bonafide supercars, but more importantly, mental for a family estate that will be seen in the supermarket or school parking lot more than around the Buddh circuit.
Audi has successfully cracked this crazy formula and the earlier RS6 was one of the best-riding and fastest accelerating car we have ever driven. Now, Audi has gone and added more power and prowess to it and called it the Performance edition. It should come with a caveat to warn patients with heart ailments or wimpish co-passengers, because this wagon is not for the faint hearted. As we discovered over four days of living with it, it can bite. Hard.
There's no mistaking the RS6's practicality for anyone else. Just like the standard A6 Avant, it still lets you fold down the rear seats to unravel a cavernous 1680 litres of boot space that will let you transport cargo in a hurry. Rear seats get the sport treatment too.
More power means more performance
Adding 50bhp to the already quick RS6, the Performance edition also gains a specific RS-tuned air suspension and a sharper steering that is sensational. The experience is visceral with brutal acceleration, precise turn-in and handling that defies physics. Step on the throttle and after the faintest of initial lag, it just propels you to triple digit speeds like you won’t believe. It is genuinely scary and shocking at the same time. It puts the power down so smoothly and without any drama that you don’t realise how rapidly you have gained speed. The Performance version also comes with a Sport Differential and specifically tuned air suspension, so the entire experience is as taut and on the edge as a proper track car should be. All this, while being able to ferry your family to the airport just seems bizarre!
Ceramic brakes remain an option but even on the standard discs, the stopping power is dramatic. The 8-speed transmission is super-quick and while it can be a tad bit jerky in slow traffic due to the power on tap, on a free run, it simply flies through the cogs.
Even on the 21in wheels, the ride quality on the RS6 is not supercar stiff. It can easily transport four people in comfort and five if you don't like the last one. The blend between comfort and the lack of any body roll is actually quite a staggering achievement.
Tried and tested tech
Based on the outgoing A6, the interiors are the place where you feel the age the most. It's still an Audi and it's an RS version so it gets great build quality with carbon fibre inlays but there's no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, no Virtual Cockpit, no multi-colour display or parking assist. What you do get is a very rudimentary version of a Head-Up display that only shows speed info and that too in monochrome. But the analog dials are so crisp and well finished that I don’t really miss the Audi Virtual Cockpit in this car, maybe analog screams power louder than digital dials.
Button-presence is high since this is a last-gen car but the Audi MMI is still very intuitive and gets the job done.
On our test car, the Bose surround sound system came with many speakers and goes much loud but it does leave you wanting for definition and precise imaging. There is a surround sound level control that allows you to adjust the soundfield for a more focused sound or a wide, cabin-wide spread and as you can guess, the best balance is somewhere in the middle. But honestly, when you have that V8 in front and that raucous exhaust at the back, why bother with hi-fi.
Family car gone wild
There's no mistaking the RS6's practicality for anyone else. Just like the standard A6 Avant, it still lets you fold down the rear seats to unravel a cavernous 1680 litres of boot space that will let you transport cargo in a hurry. Rear seats get the sport treatment too with well bolstered seats that hold you in place while the driver is going crazy after the school pick-up.
Audi's Drive Select lets you choose from Dynamic, Comfort and Auto modes for steering, suspension, engine sound, differential and transmission. It is brilliantly tuned and each change is perceptible. The steering is razor-sharp and one of the best that Audi fits on any of its cars. Minute changes translate into the car changing direction instantly and you point it exactly where you want it, mash the throttle and the RS6 makes sure it hurls towards the target. Torque vectoring ensures power is always sent to the right wheel and coupled with Quattro 4WD, it really would take an imbecile to get the RS6 out of line. Around corners, the RS6 simply begs to be pushed harder and yet you won't find its limit of adhesion. The exhaust note and the immense torque only add to the manic state of mind you will soon be acquiring.
Settled in a niche all by itself at the moment, the RS6 Performance is a supercar in disguise. It's certainly not an easy sell for Audi, but drive it once and it's sure to become an addiction. Especially, given its multifaceted nature and ease-of-driving in rush hour traffic, you can't believe it takes 3.7secs to reach the ton and sounds like a Lamborghini. It is the best way to surprise traffic-light posers and scare your co-passenger, the RS6 is epic!