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Audi RS6: old vs new

The Audi RS6 is a near-600bhp super-estate; we compare the latest model with its predecessor

Choose one or two pieces of optional equipment and the Audi RS6 Avant estate can easily cost over £100,000, but you could still argue that it’s reasonable value. After all, to buy a supercar with the same level of performance can cost much, much more, and supercars are normally very impractical. They certainly don’t have two ISOFIX child seat points, room for five adults and a huge 586-litre boot like this Audi.

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The RS6 really is a supercar-rivalling car you could use everyday (provided you can stomach the fuel bills), and it performs well as a family estate too. The current and previous Audi RS6 have both been comfortable when you’re not driving on the limit, and they’re as at home on the school run as they are on a racetrack.

Best fast estates to buy now

If you’re after a fast estate, the Audi RS6 is one of the best of the breed. We compare old vs new to see what’s changed.

Styling

The previous Audi RS6 ushered in the muscular styling the car has come to be known for. Compared to the standard Audi A6 Avant estate, the RS6 got swollen wheel arches, a black grille and eye-catching silver touches on the mirrors and air intakes. The old model still looks menacing and purposeful - especially if you see one approaching quickly in your rearview mirror.

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But park it next to the new car and it almost looks tame. Few cars look angrier than the latest RS6, with intricate headlights and a grille that dominates the car’s nose. The wheel arches are pushed out once again and the rear end looks even more purposeful, with a new diffuser around the two RS-specific oval exhaust pipes. Carbon Black and Vorsprung trim levels add a black styling pack, making the car look even meaner.

Interior

As the range-topper of the A6 range, the RS6 has always been equipped with Audi’s latest kit and premium materials. Touches like a flat-bottomed steering wheel, sports pedals and snug seats upholstered in Alcantara suede mark it out from other A6s, while all cars get sat nav, LED headlights and a Bose sound system.

The new Audi RS6 is going to be on sale for most of this decade, so the interior is state-of-the-art and theatrical. The infotainment system is now plumbed into the dashboard, rather than being perched on top, and extra screens are employed for the climate control and the Virtual Cockpit, the latter of which replaces analogue dials with a configurable digital instrument cluster. Despite being available with enormous 22-inch alloy wheels, the ride is quite comfortable - although things get a lot firmer if you dial through the sportier driving modes.

Engine and performance

The RS6 has never been short of power; older models came with the same 5.2-litre V10 engine as the Lamborghini Gallardo. The previous model had a smaller, 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 but it still produced 552bhp. Performance Pack cars came with 597bhp, which dropped the 0-62mph time from 3.9 to 3.7 seconds. Even with all that power, the RS6 feels a little clinical - it’s obviously very capable but you don’t get the same excitement as you do from the Mercedes-AMG E63 estate.

The latest RS6 gets the same engine but with bigger turbos, so in standard form the RS6 now produces 592bhp. A two-tonne kerbweight doesn’t stop the RS6 accelerating from 0-62mph in just 3.6 seconds, and you can pay to have the speed limiter removed so that the car’s top speed is 189mph. The steering is much more precise in the new model, while the optional Dynamic Ride Control irons out the UK’s rough roads. Audi has set up the quattro all-wheel drive with a rear-drive bias to make it better to drive.

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Running costs are hardly a priority for an RS6 owner but even with cylinder deactivation and mild-hybrid technology, the new car will return 22mpg when driven carefully - and much less if you use all of the engine’s power.

Practicality

The RS6 is a little quicker than most of the fastest SUVs on sale now but still boasts a huge boot. In the latest car, you get 586 litres - 21 litres more than before - and folding the seats down liberates 1,680 litres of space. A Mercedes-AMG E63 estate has even more boot space but we can’t imagine too many owners running out of room in the RS6. Standard equipment includes a powered tailgate, while trailer hitching assistance is optional should you wish to use an RS6 for caravan holidays or tip runs.

Verdict

There are few cars as capable and as fast as the Audi RS6 Avant; it combines supercar pace with a huge boot and lots of tech. The driving experience and interior have both improved but it’s an undeniably expensive family car at around £100,000. A two-year-old car with fewer than 5,000 miles on the clock is about £30,000 less expensive, so that’d be our pick.

Read our review of the Audi RS6’s other main rival, the Porsche Panamera.

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