Audi RS6 – A Subtle Beast




The seaside town of Whitby appeared into view; narrow red-brick houses dotted the landscape and Whitby Abbey stood defiant on the horizon; an image of history and beauty. The occasional seagull would swoop down low, cavorting around the harbour whilst narrowly avoiding passers-by. A crisp sea breeze gently wafted through the gothic town, creating an impression of peace and serenity…until…pop, bang, crack, roar! Dracula has returned.

Well, not really, but he might as well have considering the sheer ferocity of the Audi RS6’s exhaust system. And it doesn’t really matter how you’re driving; in comfort mode and cruising, or in dynamic mode going for a Sunday morning blast, the exhaust is ever-present. Gradually accelerate and a satisfying rumble enters the cabin, put your foot down and you are immersed in a thunderous deep V8 soundtrack to accompany the ballistic performance. Lift off quickly and experience what it must have been like to pilot a 1960s E-Type, the exhaust popping and cracking as the revs slowly drop, even if it sometimes resembles a misfiring classic!

And it’s not just bark and no bite either; the 4-Litre Twin-Turbo V8 must be one of the most powerful, yet characterful engines to bless this earth. With 561bhp and over 700Nm of torque in its base variant (you can upgrade to the 600bhp RS6 Performance if the standard one is too sluggish for the family) the RS6 will get to 62mph in 3.7s. Not bad for a car designed to take the family and their luggage to the airport. But those numbers belie what it actually feels like to accelerate in an RS6. The moment the throttle is touched the engine is primed; a suppression is directly proportional to how forcefully you are pushed into the back of your seat and from then on the engine never gives in until you have to stop for fear of running into law-breaking territory. The 8-speed gearbox also works sublimely with the powertrain; whether in auto or using the steering-wheel mounted paddles your inputs are smoothly reflected in the way the car performs. Long gone are the days of delayed gear changes; this big estate would run rings around the previous Lamborghini supercar, the Murcielago.

Performance, however, is only part of the story. If ever there was a truly Jekyll and Hyde car, this must be it. That one moment you can be charging up a windy B-Road and another wafting up the motorway with the boot full for a golfing trip is what makes the RS6 a true ‘the-only-car-you’ll-ever-need’ proposition. Step inside and you feel instantly comfortable. Whilst some of the materials are of lower-quality and the Audi entertainment system is feeling more than a little long-in-the-tooth these days, everything you touch and operate feels sturdy, well-put-together and easy-to-operate, making the RS6 a joy to live with day-to-day. That you can specify the comfort seats, delete the model designation, and spec matte aluminium rather than carbon fibre or gloss black (like the car we had) ensures that, if you so wish, you can make the RS6 more of a ‘sleeper’ than aggressive monster.

The magic of the RS6 is its ability to be both ordinary and extraordinary at the same time. Need lots of space for a road trip? No problem. Chuck it all in the boot and off you go. Want to go for a spirited drive at the weekend? Fill her up with Super Unleaded and put your foot down! Have to get back as swiftly as possible whilst navigating traffic? Put it in comfort and burble along. The RS6 does what so many car manufacturers claim but don’t fully fulfil; “you can drive our car everyday” – sure, a McLaren 570S, Ferrari Portofino, and Aston Martin Vantage are all easy to drive and great fun, but nothing delivers a combination of true practicality and performance like Audi’s fastest estate.

Jamie Moffatt