Saturday, 30 September 2017

REVIEW – Audi RS 6 Performance

Ask any car lover about their lottery garage, and they will usually rattle off their top 5 cars instantly. I won’t give my list here, but I will say that one of the cars on it is the Audi RS 6. So when I had the opportunity to test one, I was feeling a reserved excitement. On the one hand, they say you shouldn’t meet your heroes. But on the other, how many of us can say we’ve had the chance to drive our dream cars? Well I can, and it was actually the RS 6 Performance, which is even more bonkers than the standard car. So after living with it for a week, would the Audi remain in my dream garage?
Looks – 9/10

Whilst Audi ‘S’ models tend to opt for a reserved, subtle styling approach, the ‘RS’ models tend to be a bit more in your face. The RS 6 is no exception. It has broad arches, giving it a hefty stance. There are huge air ducts to direct air to the brakes, and the lower grille brandishes the word “Quattro” in big letters. To the side, 21-inch alloy wheels sit over the enormous brake discs, and at the back there are two dustbin-sized exhausts sitting either side of a prominent rear diffuser. You can certainly tell this is no ordinary A6. There are some equally bold paint jobs too, from the various metallics and pearls to the £5,675 matt finishes. Why not? Or better yet, why not choose any colour you like, with a customised colour? At £2,000 it seems like a great way to make your RS 6 look unique.

Inside the RS 6 is a little dated in certain areas. It hasn’t yet got the full virtual cockpit, instead making do with a display in between the dials. But leaving that aside, it’s a marvellous place to be. At the centre, two big body-hugging bucket seats welcome you. The obvious choice of finisher is the carbon fibre, which adds a certain luxurious sportiness to the cabin on the dashboard, centre console and door panels. The flat-bottomed steering wheel is chunky, and comes coated in a perforated leather. Behind it are two sizeable gear paddles. The multimedia screen comes out of the dashboard in true James Bond style and is operated by buttons down below the gear stick. The overall finish is top quality – as you would expect of a £90,000 car – and is a great place to be, whether that be on the Nürburgring or the M60 ring road.


Handling/Performance – 10/10

I could write this section with just one word: “unbelievable”. However, I think I owe it to Audi to give you a little more than that. The RS 6 has a 4.0-litre, bi-turbo V8 petrol engine. If you opt for the ‘normal’ version, it has 560PS. But I didn’t have the normal version at all. Mine was the habanero-pepper-infused ‘Performance’, which means I had a monumental 605PS and 750Nm of torque. With Quattro AWD and an 8-speed tiptronic gearbox, it will hit 0-62mph in a supercar-rivalling 3.7 seconds, and will easily bounce off the electronically-limited 155mph top speed. There’s a constant rumble from the V8, which turns into a symphonious bellow as the revs climb higher. I really cannot do the RS 6 enough justice, the performance is electric. It must be experienced to be truly believed. On a full-bore launch, you can feel the g-force in your teeth. But it’s addictive. Euphoric.

You may be wondering how that sheer power translates onto a more technical, twisty road. I know I was. But in fact, the RS 6 is composed, and doesn’t try to kill you at every opportunity. It’s properly driveable, and you can attack roads with plenty of vigour without requiring a change of underwear. My test car had the optional carbon ceramic brakes. Expensive they may be, costing £9,375, but they stop this 2-tonne Audi with enough force to replace the teeth that the launch control pulled out. But as with a family estate car that will beat a Ferrari away from the lights, the Audi’s handling is finely balanced; the best of both worlds. On the motorway, it is as comfortable as you like. Relaxing. Reserved. But it also has composure on a bumpy B-road, giving you confidence to push hard. And when you’ve got 605PS on your right foot, you need con
fidence.

Economy – 9/10

If we’re being totally honest, anyone considering buying an Audi RS 6 is unlikely to give two hoots about economy. And if you can afford the price tag, you’ll undoubtedly have enough money for a few litres of premium unleaded. But nonetheless, I will provide the information. Combined fuel consumption is 29.4mpg. Thi is down in part to the clever V8, which shuts off 4 cylinders under light driving. The RS 6 also gets start/stop technology too, and CO2 emissions are 223g/km. That means first year road tax is £1,200 which sounds bonkers, but in the grand scheme of the purchase price it isn’t the end of the world. Subsequent years will be £140, with the £310 surcharge for 5 years owing to the list price of more than £40,000.

Practicality – 10/10

When you get a car with the headline performance figures seen here, it’s usually an impractical, uncomfortable supercar. And when you have a family that includes dogs and children, that just doesn’t work. But the RS 6 does. In fact, it works a treat. When you’re not playing Russian roulette with your driving licence, the Audi is a great family car. There’s a big boot for the dogs, and a spacious cabin for 5 adults. With the selectable drive modes you can make the RS 6 a bit tamer, and it’s actually very easy to drive slowly. The list of equipment is extensive, and with a few optional extras such as power door closure (why not?!), smartphone interface, parking pack advanced and a head-up display you can end up with a car that has gadgetry to match performance. Find me a more practical car that does a sub-4 0-62mph. I challenge you.

Fun – 10/10

Don’t for a second think that the practical estate aspect makes the RS 6 any less fun. In fact, I think it adds a surprise factor, with unwitting motorists even more susceptible to humiliation at the lights. But from those broad arches, to the dustbin-sized exhausts, this car is a hoot. And the noise: oh the noise. It’s addictive, rumbling at low revs and snarling its way to the redline, popping and banging on the overrun. It’s a sensory delight. And what’s more, it handles like no car I’ve ever driven. I feel like a cliché is well placed here: the RS 6 has arcade-game handling, cornering at speeds you wouldn’t think possible. As a genuine petrolhead, getting to spend the week with an RS 6 was a dream come true. And as far as making you want to go for a drive goes, I would have driven to a shop 50 miles away for a pint of milk. Fun? I’m still grinning now…

Concluding Remarks

Whilst the RS 6 Performance hasn’t yet had the full benefit of some recent Audi updates, such as the full virtual cockpit, it is still a truly great car. The looks are either reserved or berserk depending how you specify it. The drive is also reserved or berserk depending on which mode you select, and that sums up the RS 6 nicely. It is, above all else, a practical family car; spacious, comfortable and relaxing. But dig a little deeper and there’s a supercar wanting to thrill you: I love it. Prices start at £81,430 (or £88,345 for the RS 6 Performance), and for the performance on offer I’d say that’s actually a bargain. Be wary of the options list though, as my test car ended up north of £100,000. For more information head to your local dealer, or visit the Audi website and configure your own. People say you shouldn’t meet your heroes. Rubbish; I’m glad I did. Audi RS 6 Performance: still top of my lottery list.

Total Score – 48/50

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