Related Stories

I fell out of love with the Audi RS 6 Avant

I go on a date with the Audi RS 6 to discover if a sexy shape and sonorous V-8 makes it worthy of putting a ring on it.

audi-rs6-soul-score

Online dating. Yes, that’s what this Audi RS 6 Avant reminded me of. Meeting someone in person for the first time after a digital introduction is a nerve racking experience. “Am I going to present as good in person as I did online?” And, will they?

And so it is with cars. I’ve had a gigantic crush on this RS 6 ever since I laid eyes on it. Beautiful and sexy, with performance credentials to make it a possible long term partner. I’ve been looking for one to review for quiet some time, but they are very rare. Now, finally, it’s time for the big date.

So, the good jeans are on, the cologne sprayed, and the RS freshly detailed.

Let’s see if it makes me fall in love.

Audi RS 6 Avant

2021 Audi RS 6 Avant Quick Take

Get one:

Supermodel body. As fast as anything with the letter M. Quattro grip. Black tie inside.

Don’t get one:

Dead-on-arrival steering. Handling not quite as sharp as an M5. Pricey.

Soul Score: 8

Works as an ultimate wagon, but not as an ultimate car.

The Audi RS 6 Avant overview

Audi RS 6 Avant

You know the drill by now – no one makes wagons anymore. The Porsche Panamera Sport Turbo is not long for this world. The M3 Wagon remains tantalizingly out of reach across the ocean. A new M5 is rumored to have a wagon variant because we love to ask for things and then not buy them.

But if BMW does build an M5 wagon, it’s mainly because of this car. In one form or another, Audi has always had a five-door, often a high-performance one. But here, they took a risk. There is no RS 6 sedan, and the normal A6 Avant (that’s Audi’s term for wagon) only comes in All-Road fashion, making this RS 6 Avant the end game for two different paths. Now to be fair, you can get an RS 7 with the same running gear, but that’s still a hatchback. Nothing traditional exists.

Audi RS 6 Avant
Wagons. Sigh.

And beneath it’s Nike Swoosh shape is genuine yumminess. A twin-turbo V-8 with 591 horsepower (upped for 2024 to 621), along with Audi’s famed Quattro, four-wheel steering, and a torque-vectoring differential. Big guns, to be sure.

Problem is, everybody has big guns, and the RS will need more than a bikini body to compete with some extremely capable cars at this price point.

Come on RS 6 – I’m really pullin’ for ya.

Performance Score: 7. First date heart break

Audi RS 6 Avant
The RS 6 is as fast as its peers.

Like the Vantage F1 Edition, the RS 6 is by no means a safe or boring choice. You’ll rarely see yourself at a car show (or anywhere else for that matter), something you can’t say for that M5 parked next to six others that are Individual shades of the same blue.

Sure buddy, your M5 is special. Go sit down and have a cookie.

But the M5 is good. Really good. There’s lots of good in the Audi too. It’s perhaps the world’s best grand touring car. But like a 911 to that Aston, there is a reason so many choose another German brand.

Engine

Audi RS 6 Avant
A twin turbo V-8 provides 591 horses, but isn’t quite as refined as the S63.

For starters, what a sweetheart. Under hood is a 4.0-liter twin turbo V-8, which is actually smaller than the old RS 4. There’s a solid wham (Slap? Punch?) off the line, with peak torque coming on by 2,050 RPM, just a bit higher than in an M8. Rev it to achieve nirvana – 591 horses aren’t on tap until 6,000. Power exists everywhere, with no lag present and a super smooth delivery that makes you go “OOOHHH” with that big O face each time you stab the throttle. Turbos make hilariously big whoooooosh sounds here, and I expect VW Golf bros look at this thing like BMW fans look at an M5 CS.

Audi RS 6 Avant

If I’m nitpicky (I am), I can say that this V-8 isn’t quite as smooth as that famed S63. There’s a little vibration as you climb through the tach, and though it’s not much, it’s there. A 48-volt mild hybrid system is attached, and combined with the all-wheel drive and steering, it seems as if we’re asking a lot of everything to talk nice with each other.

Audi RS 6 Avant
Blip the throttle for a glorious baritone soundtrack.

Ah, but the sound: a baritone love poem that gets pumped out through gigantic dual exhaust pipes. Much better than the M5, not quite a raucous as an AMG, it’s wonderful and unique on its own.

Overall, the engine’s performance is the sort of thing you’d notice on a first date, but isn’t a red flag. Or a green one.

Transmission

Audi RS 6 Avant
Our friend ZF is invited.

It’s the ZF, and it’s terrific as usual. But it’s also a bit different when bolted to the RS 6 because of some unusual powertrain features.

Here, the eight-speed sends power to all four wheels via Audi’s famed Quattro system, and there’s a sport differential out back that can send up to 100% of the the power to one corner. Is BMW’s M xDrive just as good? Maybe it’s better, because you can’t turn Quattro off in the RS 6 and make it a rear-wheel hoon machine like you can an M5. Still, Audi knows their stuff, allowing you to control the rear with a smooth throttle, something the transmission is programmed well to assist in.

Lastly, the paddles behind the wheel are tiny, and though it’s the Audi aesthetic, I’m curious as to why something you might need all the time is so small. This is a beefy car – give me Ah-nuld controls.

Steering and Chassis

Audi RS 6 Avant
The air suspension helps keep the RS composed.

A long time ago, you could get four-wheel steering on cars like the Mitsubishi 3000GT, and though it’s become more commonplace on modern cars, applying it to performance machines is still somewhat rare. It is perhaps because of the RS 6’s four wheels turning that the steering feels both light and dead just off center. It actually made my M3 feel direct and firm by comparison, and you know how much I “love” my own rack.

To keep its 5,031-pound curb weight under control, Audi gives you an excellent air suspension that allows the RS 6 to maintain its composure in corners with minimal squat and body roll. The system provides confidence in turns and combined with gigantic tires, keeps the car planted without much understeer. That’s surprising, considering Audi’s tendency to insist on going straight even though you’re cranking in opposite wheel turn.

Like many cars in this class, it feels about a thousand pounds lighter than it is, but doesn’t shrink around you the way a BMW might the faster you drive it.

Audi RS 6 Avant
Steering response is a letdown – perhaps one of the worst racks in a modern performance car.

Driving down the pot-holed roads of Staten Island, it never beat me up, so if you can resist putting it in RS mode, you won’t get out saying “ouch”.

Overall, the RS 6 isn’t P-car sharp, but the chassis enables swift and composed dissection of traffic, making it an excellent grand touring machine. Available on 2024 models is Dynamic Ride Control, which ditches the air suspension for a system that ties together diagonal corners of the car. It works similar to those on a McLaren, and I’m curious to see if it enhances the RS 6’s handling ability.

Brakes

Audi RS 6 Avant
10-pot front brakes provide excellent stopping power.

I’m not sure what the correlation is, but Audi makes the RS 6’s maximum top speed of 190 MPH available only with the optional $8,500 carbon ceramic brakes. An odd choice, because standard are enormous 16.4-inch cross-drilled and vented rotors with 10 piston calipers in front. I’m very certain they’d work well from any speed that isn’t close to Mach one.

Pedal feel is firm and fine – modern cars fade a lot less than older ones, so unless you need the look of that crackled carbon, put the $8,500 elsewhere.

Audi RS 6 Avant
The view most cars will get.

As pretty as this car is, it’s still an Audi, and thus not quite as hyper or precise as some others. Rest assured, you will slay everything in your path that isn’t labeled “M” or “Turbo” while hauling home the groceries, but the way it goes about said slaying left me feeling a bit ambivalent.

Utility Score: 8. Sexy sacrifice

Audi RS 6 Avant
Is this not why you are here?

First dates are usually a facade. You’re in your best clothes, putting forth your best self and not showing anything that might present as “un-dateable”. Cars work the same way – they just need to get past that test drive so you can sign the paperwork and forever celebrate (or regret) your decision.

Walking up to the RS 6, you might simply say “yay, wagon”, but we must dig deeper. The boot is a nicely square size, yet that sexy slope to the rear glass can cut into your cargo-carrying ability. And hey, I’m 40 now – it’s easier to load an SUV than a low wagon. Just putting that out there.

Audi RS 6 Avant
Plenty of room, just watch the sloping rear hatch.

In the cabin, it’s a bit tighter than a 5 Series, especially in the back, but nothing to deter you from using it as a daily. The front seats are some of the most comfortable I’ve sat in – they look great, are easy to climb into, and hold you in place when it’s time to demonstrate dog-fighting skills to your offspring.

Talk to me Goose.

Audi RS 6 Avant
A bit tighter than an M5 back here, but acceptable.

Would I personally do a wagon over a sedan? Yes, every time, with roof box please. Sigh, M3 Wagon…

Fuel Economy: 4. Picking up the tab

Audi RS 6 Avant
With great V-8 power, comes great V-8 fuel appetite.

The RS 6 has an EPA rating of 17 MPG combined, a bit worse than some others because of the wagon heft and aggressive all-wheel drive system. It’s still better than an SUV with a big engine.

Interestingly, Audi programmed the engine to idle at a higher speed when in RS mode to give the impression of a dog straining on a leash. I enjoyed it, but not exactly great for frugal driving. You know how I feel by now – anyone buying this car isn’t going to be pinching pennies trying to fill it up.

Come on –I’m a gentleman. I’ll pick up the tab even if the date goes south.

Features and Comfort: 9. Black tie affair

Audi RS 6 Avant

If the performance isn’t up to par, the design certainly is. The RS 6 is beautiful to behold and beautiful to the touch, surpassing anything from BMW, Porsche, Cadillac – you name it. Apple doesn’t make a car, but I can’t imagine them doing much better than this.

Bauhaus Brute

Audi RS 6 Avant
A clean and modern design.

I love sitting in here. Everything is clean, functional, easy to read (well, aside from the infotainment), and well-made.

Start with those amazing front seats, covered in leather as soft as anything from Bentley. Lots of Alcantara touches too, like the steering wheel and shifter (better have a lot of AMMO handy). I dig this digital dash – it’s clean and easy to read, yet modern. I still say there’s no reason to make a digital screen mimic traditional dials, but if we must, Audi goes about it right.

Audi RS 6 Avant
I found Audi’s infotainment system convoluted to navigate.

One big red flag is the infotainment system and the fact that there are two screens. Its placement mimics that of Mercedes in the center console, but where they make it all fit into one unit, Audi separates the climate controls. This has the benefit of the HVAC always visible and not buried in a million menus, but it’s an answer to a question no one asked. And since we’re all about style here, might as well just minimize the clutter and keep it simple.

Audi RS 6 Avant
The seats are very comfy, with butter-soft leather.

Elsewhere, a giant sunroof lets lots of light into an otherwise dark cabin, and though all the gloss black trim looks great, it’s going to get easily scratched. You know what? I don’t care – it’s a nice change from the giant swatches of carbon fiber BMW might use, and the result is one of the better interiors I’ve been in.

Audi RS 6 Avant
Alcantara here…
Audi RS 6 Avant
Alcantara there…

Pro tip: opt for the “Individual contour seat package” and get a massage at 150 mph.

Life dating a 10

Audi RS 6 Avant
A silhouette not many share.

It’s safe to predict that if BMW does a new M5 wagon, it’ll probably be a better driving car. But no way will it look this good, and looking good is half the battle when it comes to a car’s soul.

Look good, feel good.

Audi RS 6 Avant
A set of HRE’s are great, but even stock wheels are 22 inches.

This example has some choice selects, like the Matte Carbon Package that gives you black window trim and other important things. Painted Navarra Blue Metallic, it’s a slightly subdued look that gives the impression of stealth. But there’s really no hiding the car because of that notch-back and aggressive nose. I might just paint mine red and drive down the road waiving my middle finger and stomping on the gas.

Audi RS 6 Avant
Carbon fiber details are deliciously subtle here.
Audi RS 6 Avant Audi RS 6 Avant

“Oh My Gawd, is dat a…”

Yes. Yes it is.

Those 22-inch HRE wheels are icing on the cake, but even the stock design is nice (and 22 inches are an option you should get). Though some Audis can look a bit nosey (who am I to talk about car noses), with large overhangs beyond the front wheels, the proportions on the RS 6 are perfect.

Let’s just say I wouldn’t kick it out of bed.

The Audi RS 6 Avant is missing a few personality traits to make a long-term commitment

Audi RS 6 Avant

I’ve been happily married for eight years now, but I remember dating. By the time I got into my thirties, I was eager to be finished.

“Great, you’re pretty. Now tell me what’s wrong with you and let’s see if we’re compatible.”

Audi RS 6 Avant

Cars are like that too. I know all the tricks. It’s rare a beautiful car drives as good as it looks (yes Aston, I’m talking about you). But the Audi RS 6 Avant makes a strong case for getting an invite back to my place. The performance is there, and its wagon shape makes it an exotic that really works as a daily. By the time you read this, the 2024 model will have a starting price of $125,800, and that’s a lot for an Audi. But you get more for your money than elsewhere too, and beauty is never cheap.

At the end of the day, I know I’ll tire of the lack of refinement the performance of this Audi RS 6 Avant has, so despite the bodacious bod, I’d be sliding into an M5’s DMs at some point.

But I’m no cheater, so I guess, uh..

I had a great time RS 6. I’ll call you…

Audi RS 6 Avant

2021 Audi RS 6 Avant Specifications

Vehicle Type: Front-engine, all-wheel-drive, five-door, five-passenger wagon.

PRICE

Base: $110,045

POWERTRAIN

4.0 liter twin-turbocharged V-8
591 hp @ 6,250 RPM
590 lb-ft @ 2,050 RPM
Eight-speed automatic transmission

DIMENSIONS

Wheelbase: 115.4 in
Length: 196.7 in
Width: 76.8 in
Height: 58.6 in
Curb Weight: 5,031 lbs

EPA FUEL ECONOMY

Combined/city/highway: 17 / 15 / 22 MPG

Want your car reviewed?

If you live in the tri-state area and want me to check it out, send me an email! 

Support the cause

Commissions may be received for product links on this site. Help out if you can.

I use Nikon camera bodies and lenses, a Westcott Ice Light 2, Manfrotto tripod, B + W filters and an iMac Pro to make the art you see here.

4 thoughts on “I fell out of love with the Audi RS 6 Avant

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *