2020 Audi RS6 Avant – German Performance Wagon IN AMERICA!!!. It feels a little on-the-nose to say this, but the 2020 Audi RS6 Avant is, in a word, spectacular. I know. I know. “Automotive journalist loves 591-horsepower station wagon” isn’t exactly breaking news. Yet after a day of driving the new RS6 wagon through the Malibu canyons in Southern California, here I am, thoroughly impressed and absolutely thrilled that, after more than a decade of begging, Audi has finally decided to sell one of its RS-badged longroofs in the good ol’ US of A.
But now, America, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is. Audi fulfilled its end of the deal by building a solid business case and doing the homologation work that’s required to sell the RS6 Avant in the United States. That means you actually have to buy one. And you should. You really, really should.
No one thing about the RS6 Avant stands out as a piece de resistance. Rather, it’s how this whole package comes together that makes it so appealing. It’s the big V8. The sophisticated driveline. The sumptuous interior. The world-beating tech. Take all that and wrap it in sheet metal that isn’t just pretty for a wagon, but downright arresting, full stop.
Under the hood, you’ll find Audi’s twin-turbocharged, 4.0-liter V8 engine, making 591 hp and 590 pound-feet of torque. Hit the checkered flag button on the steering wheel, hold the brakes and mash the throttle, and you’ll activate launch control, allowing the RS6 Avant to rip off 3.6-second 0-to-60-mph runs. Should you have the space to keep going, the wagon will hit either 155 mph or 190 mph, depending on whether or not your car has the standard, 16.5-inch steel front brakes or the larger, 17.3-inch carbon-ceramic stoppers. (Both setups come with 14.5-inch rear rotors.) With great speed comes great responsibility, after all.
This V8 engine also uses 48-volt mild-hybrid technology, which allows for more liberal use of the stop-start system in normal driving conditions. European models even get a coasting function, powered by the same 48-volt system, but this hasn’t yet been approved for use in the US. At least our car will be louder — “significantly so,” according to Audi. Still, I’ll have to take the company’s word for it for now, as the German-spec model tested here falls subject to Europe’s stricter noise regulations which, quite frankly, take a lot of the fun out of having a V8-powered anything.
Nevertheless, the RS6 Avant is a delight to drive fast. The eight-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and seamlessly, whether left to its own devices or if you choose to use the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters (which are too small for an Audi with an RS badge, even though they’re now finished in aluminum).
The Quattro all-wheel-drive system shuffles power around as needed, though the standard sport differential ensures power is first and foremost sent rearward. Roll into the throttle as you come out of a corner and you can feel the car’s rump hunker down, the torque thrust shoving you forward. The diff isn’t so clever it’ll fool you into thinking the RS6 is a rear-wheel-drive wagon, but it at least allows for a bit of playfulness from the big boy’s hind quarters.
Then there’s the standard four-wheel steering, which is great at masking the sheer size of the RS6 Avant on narrow, winding roads. Climbing one of my favorite Malibu canyons, the RS6 rotates around corners with a level of precision you wouldn’t expect from something this size. Seriously, the slight action of the rear wheels makes the chassis feel about a foot shorter than it actually is, allowing you to take sharper turns faster, knowing the rear end can sufficiently claw into the pavement and spin you right ’round.
The only real hurdle between the RS6 Avant and the driveway of every salivating enthusiast across the country will be its price tag. The official MSRP won’t be available for a few more months, but Audi tells me the RS6 Avant will be priced similarly to the RS7 Sportback… which is also an unknown number right now. I’m going to assume both cars will start below $120,000. I’m also going to need a raise.
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