Wagon Wonder | Audi RS6 Avant 4.0 TFSI

BY Joel Tam

What has plenty of space, loads of power, a lot of presence and the ability keep up with exotic cars double its price? You're staring at it. Audi's RS 6 is truly a wonderful piece of machinery.

Photos: Joel Tam | Track photos by CarBuyer

The dictionary defines the word wonder as 'a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful and unexpected'.

That pretty much sums up the Audi RS6. But I wouldn't be doing the car justice if I described it in one sentence. Because the super wagon is so much more than that. To me, it's the perfect car.

If you're an avid reader, you might be aware that I am a fan of station wagons. In fact my own car is a wagon and I will readily replace it with another estate when the time comes. So yes, I might be a bit biased when it comes to reviewing one. But hear me out, because the RS6 is no ordinary wagon, and I'm quite sure you would be compelled to take a closer look, even if you're a 'anti-wagonist' - if there was such a thing.

The very first RS 6 (C5) debuted in 2002, it was powered by a 4.2-litre twin turbocharged V8 that produced 450 bhp. Available as an Avant (Audi-speak for wagon) and a sedan, it shocked the motoring industry (and its competitors) by being one of the fastest 'family' cars in its era. Then came the second generation RS 6 (C6) in 2008. With its 5.0-litre V10 bi-turbo engine that pumped out a whopping 580 bhp, the C6 was, needless to say, another shock-and-awe family sedan/Avant from Ingolstadt.

Fast forward to 2014, and we\'re here with the latest third generation monster wagon from Audi. Lighter and down by two cylinders, the C7 RS6 is a wee bit less powerful (-20 bhp), but is 50 Nm torquier than the model it replaces. Did we mention that it's lighter? By almost 100 kg in fact. So couple that with the 560 bhp and 700 Nm the new twin-turbo V8 now produces, the sizable family wagon will fly to 100 km/h from standstill in 3.9 seconds, and it won't stop till it hits 305 km/h. Yup. That's supercar territory!

It's so easy to access the power too. Unlike a supercar that requires some technique and plenty of revs to achieve that sub 4-second century sprint, the RS6 simply asks for a heavy right foot. One simple action is all that's needed. Stomp the accelerator and awwwaaaaaaaaaaaaay… (we go)! Believe me, it's so fast you won't have enough breath to complete your sentences!

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's rewind and admire the car first. I admit, this is where the prejudice creeps in. I mean just look at it! It's big, wide and packed with muscles and flares in all the right places. The RS 6 is one mean machine that looks fast even when parked. The wagon body-style makes it look like a huge hot hatch too, so it's ferocious, yet friendly at the same time. And yes, the third generation RS 6 is ONLY available as an Avant (good call Audi!).

Other new items you can see from the outside are the partially shaded LED headlights, aggressive bumpers with a hard-to-miss "Quattro” emblem on the front honeycomb grille, the standard 21-inch double 5-spoke RS6 alloy wheels, and a new set of Wave-design brake discs that are 3 kg lighter as a whole compared to the previous ones.

Ease yourself into the honeycomb-stitched sport seats and you're immediately surrounded by the usual black-on-black Audi sports theme. It's no bad thing, especially when you start to notice the glossy carbon fibre inserts that lift the interior ambience a bit. A bit more red or some additional aluminum trim would have brightened it up a bit more though.

The signature flat-bottom RS steering wheel is still there. Peer through the wheel and onto the instrument cluster, and you'll find some new features available on display - a boost meter, shift light and even a lap timer is built into the system, hinting at the track prowess the RS 6 is also bestowed with (how bad can 4WD and 560 bhp be on the track?). Speaking of track time, we had the privilege of testing the RS 6 on both the road and on the track at the Sepang International Circuit. So let's get to that bit shall we?

As I was saying earlier, the RS 6 is insanely quick. The last car we drove that was nearly as quick, was the BMW M5. But with rear-wheel drive, the Bimmer was a bit scary in the wet. The RS 6 however is sure-footed on damp ground - even at 250 km/h. Our testing conditions couldn't have been better. After a downpour at the track, the ground was properly wet for the first hour. After which the sun came out, and within the next hour, the track was bone dry and ready for more pavement burning. I had the opportunity of driving the RS 6 hard, as well as being a passenger while it was being driven hard. So I'd dare say I have an all-rounded assessment of the car.

Despite being a large car, the RS 6 is nimble and easy to handle on the track. Turn-in is sharp and direct with every corner, but the suspension is always working hard to keep the massive wagon in control. Perhaps the Dynamic Ride Control (DRC) option is needed for owners who plan to track the RS 6. On that note, do also tick the carbon ceramic brakes, otherwise you'll likely encounter a spongy brake pedal - as we did - after three hot laps. That said, the brakes will still continue to bite relentlessly despite the squishiness and extra travel.

Get into the flow though, and the RS 6 is a hard car to keep up with. Sharing the track with another 80 cars from a local track club, the RS6 effortlessly thundered past car after car. Even the Nissan GTRs had a tough time keeping up. One of the fastest GTRs that day clocked a 2:37 lap time - the RS 6 ate it for breakfast with an easy 2:34. Granted, it's not the sharpest tool to carve the whole track with, but it delivers nonetheless.

Back home in Singapore, we had the car for a couple of days, and it was truly a joy to live with. While the suspension had to work hard on the track, it was perfectly at home around the city. Supple and extremely at ease in every road situation, the RS 6 was riding over humps and bumps almost like it was an, erm, S-Class? Yet all you needed to do was think about going fast, and the beast within would sense your intentions and pounce at every instruction you feed it. It's THAT lively.

I wish I didn't like the RS 6 so much. I tried to convince myself it isn't a good car. It's not loud enough. It's too big. It's too expensive. The truth is, it's the one car I would sell my home to live in. And yes, at $560,000, it's pretty much the same price as my 5-room apartment. But at least it will be the fastest home on wheels. Ever!