2020 Audi RS6 Avant first test drive

The 2020 Audi RS6 model is coming to Canada. Having been denied an RS6 model for years, we will be getting the Audi RS6 Avant, the wagon version of this icon of the Autobahn. 2020 Audi RS6 Avant

Audi first introduced the RS6 in 2002 with a 4.2-litre, twin-turbo V8. That engine produced 450 horsepower and offered a 0-100 kilometres an hour time of 4.7 seconds. The subsequent model, offered in 2008, came with a 5.0L V10 rated at 571HP which reduced the 0-100-km/h time to 4.1 seconds. The third RS6 model, offered in 2013 but not in Canada, reverted to a 4.0L twin-turbo V8 with 552 hp with a 0-100-km/h time of 3.8 seconds.

The 2020 Audi RS6 Avant sticks with a 4.0L twin-turbo V8 that now cranks out an astonishing 600 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. That power is fed through an eight-speed tiptronic (automatic) transmission, to be delivered to all four wheels, as Audi’s legendary Quattro, all wheel drive system, sees fit.

Audi has continued to elevate the performance of this model and now the 2020 Audi RS6 Avant yields a 0-100 km/h run in only 3.6 seconds. Think about that for a bit, the 2020 Audi R8 sports car, the veritable thoroughbred stallion of the stable, clocks a 0-100 km/hr time of 3.1 seconds!

Part of the short sprint times off the line, can be attributed to the combination of incredible power/torque, the all-wheel drive system, but also the newly incorporated launch control system, specifically designed for full throttle starts.

The power-train in the RS6 integrates a 48-volt mild hybrid electric system. The unit depends on a belt/alternator/starter (BAS) unit which allows the ultra performance vehicle to coast with the engine shut off for up to 40 seconds, at speeds between 55-160 km/h The engine also features cylinder deactivation, shutting down half of the V8’s combustion chambers under light loads. The shift between 4 and 8 cylinders is imperceptible to the driver or occupants. Audi claims the fuel saving systems, result in a 0.8 L/100kms reduction in fuel consumption.

Audi has taken care to reflect the RS6’s serious performance in its exterior styling. While the vehicle is based on a regular A6 Avant, only the tailgate and front doors are the same. Aggressive wheel fenders sit 40mm wider at each wheel. The hood bulges and is now visually separated from the iconic RS specific honeycomb grille. The laser powered, LED Matrix headlights have been repurposed from the A7 sedan to allow for thinner visual up front. Massive air intakes and a low slung air dam at the front work with an integrated rear spoiler that extends of the roof-line, to help control airflow and provide additional down-force at high speeds. Optional 22 inch wheels fitted with 285mm 30 series tires, try to hide massive 440mm brake calipers and add a modern sporty visual to a serious performance vehicle. 2020 Audi RS6 22 inch wheels

Inside the cabin, RS logo, embossed sports seats cradle front seat occupants. The large side bolsters are a constant reminder of the potential performance lurking under either foot. The dashboard design is typically Audi excellence with the configurable virtual cockpit instrument panel. The setup even allows for full NAV system overlay across the entire display. A pair of TFT LCD displays sit in the centre area of the dash running down to the centre console. The top screen is the primary control interface for the Audi Connect AV systems in the car as well as the radio and Nav systems onboard. The lower screen configures climate controls as well as the heated and air cooled seats. The system mimics smart phone gestures as such its intuitive and a breeze to use.

Enough waiting, whats the 2020 Audi RS6 like to drive? Its a blast!

The launch control harnessing the 591HP almost makes the 3.6 second run to 100 kms/hr feel mundane but the numbers don’t lie. The exhaust makes a menacing growl when pushed and otherwise, just threatens with a muscular grumble under casual loads.

The RS6 is offered with two suspension choices the standard RS Sport air suspension or the Plus option with mechanical springs and Dynamic Rice Control. Our tester was the higher Performance Plus model which did not disappoint. My partner on the drive was an actual race race driver, licence to prove it even! With the g-force meter included in the instrument packaging, he took glee in seeing just what the potent wagon would do in the hills and canyons around Malibu California. I can confirm that the being a passenger in a car being pushed close to its 1.5g limit on tight corners, is not a pleasant experience. The extreme road holding ability on the vehicle is also due to the inclusion of a torque-vectoring rear differential and four-wheel steering system to help it around corners.

Another optional feature on 2020 RS6 is top speed. The standard RS6 is limited to 250 kms/hr. A Dynamic package offers a mechanical centre differential that can shuttle up to 70% of the engine’s torque to the front wheels and up to 85% to the rear if needed. Top speed also rises to 280 kms/hr. A Dynamic Plus option, pushes the top speed to a 305 km/hr limit. 2020 Audi RS6 Avant instrument panel

Audi drive select allows the driver to choose between Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, Efficiency driving modes. The adjustment can be made under the lower LCD screen on the centre console. However in such a potent vehicle, distracting the driver to make set up changes is not a brilliant idea. To that end, Audi has fitted an RS badged button on the steering wheel that allows the driver to instantly call up two preset configurations, labelled RS1 (one push) and RS2 (two pushes). Logically, one can be set for typical commuting and the other for hell-bent sprinting.

Despite or even in spite of its performance credentials, the 2020 Audi RS6 Avant has to deliver the utility expected of the wagon format. To that end, the passenger cabin will comfortably seat up to 5 adults, carry either 565-litres of cargo with the rear seats up or 1,680L with the back seats folded flat.

Overall, the 2020 Audi RS 6 Avant delivers on the promise of the street legal race car that can perform it family duties without compromise. If you can afford the the expected price in the $120,000-150,000 ballpark when they are available later in 2020, I highly recommend one!