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HomeDRIVENROAD TESTEDAudi RS6 Avant

Audi RS6 Avant

DARK LORD |

Primped with a special Sebring Black with Crystal Effect paint job, the refined 2021 Audi RS6 Avant has a menacing appearance and exudes a brooding presence – as if inculcated with the Dark Side of the Force. By chance, we encountered the sinister looking super wagon on May the 4th

Admiring the pitch-black Avant from the front, it was clear that the massive Singleframe grille, bordered by huge air intakes nestling below thin headlights, portrayed the flagship RS wagon from Neckarsulm as more than a passing resemblance to the Dark Lord of the Empire…

Coincidence? Perhaps not. At the launch of the new RS6 Avant, exterior designer Francesco D’Amore equated the role of the latest top-line muscle wagon to that of the arch-villain of science fiction, reportedly saying: “This is Darth Vader. It’s the autobahn killer…” 

As fate would have it (or is it destiny?) we met with the Dark Lord on May the 4th – Star Wars Day – and even on this clear autumn day in the Western Cape, there was something ominous, a feeling of menace, looming in the air… as even while stationary, the Avant has a brooding presence, its muscular lines emphasising its dark, yet alluring character.

The gloss black grille with three-dimensional honeycomb structure and striking RS bumper (referencing the front end of the Audi R8), with characteristic Avant silhouette and RS-specific sills, including the dynamic rear-end with roof edge spoiler and gloss black rear diffuser, visually highlighted the RS’s latent, evil power… further emphasised by two oval tailpipes the size of Death Star laser guns.

Star Destroyer power

Pressing the “action” button on the central console in the cabin unleashed a raucous, full-bodied V8 growl from the 4.0-litre TFSI engine (it provides for an even fuller bellow in customisable RS1 and RS2 models), with power now boosted by a 48V belt alternator/starter mild-hybrid (MHEV) system that can recover up to 12 kW of power. 

The engine delivers Star Destroyer power – 441 kW and 800 Nm of torque from 2,050 to 4,500 rpm – and utilises a cylinder-on-demand system that can shut off half of its cylinders to boost fuel economy. Output remains slightly below the 445kW offered by the 2016 Performance variant, yet the latest RS is quicker; accelerating to 100 km/h in a mere 3.6 seconds and 200 km/h is reached in 12 seconds. 

Top speed is limited to 250 km/h, but this can be increased to 280 km/h with the RS Dynamic package, and the bespoke powerplant’s intimidating power is sent seamlessly via the eight-speed tiptronic transmission and a new launch control function to the quattro system, with drive forces distributed to the front and rear axles via a mechanical centre differential.

By activating the configurable RS mode via a button positioned on the steering wheel, the Dark Forces within the roaring twin-turbo V8 was unleashed, and to experience the thrust of the majestic wagon, propelling towards the vanishing point with its huge tyres scrabbling for grip, was an otherworldly experience…  

Progressive steering

The Drive Select function (with comfort, auto, dynamic, efficiency, and RS modes) adjusts engine and handling responses and the controlled damping of the Avant’s RS adaptive air suspension lowers its ride height by 20 mm. At speeds of 120 km/h and above it hunkered down another 10 mm on its gloss black finished 22-inch wheels.

The sporty progressive steering with newly developed power assist and dynamic all-wheel steering – with the rear wheels turning as much as five degrees in the opposite direction relative to the front wheels at low speeds – made it easy to control the monstrous wagon, making it lissom in traffic and around tight corners.

At intermediate and high speeds, the rear wheels turn in the same direction as the fronts by as much as two degrees, adding to its stability and agility. Yes, one could still feel its weight in the corners when it started to shift balance, but for a large, long-wheelbase estate, the RS6’s handling is particularly nimble.

Enormous disc brakes (440 mm in front and 370 mm in the rear) with red callipers proved up to the task by rapidly forcing the bulky Avant with its hearse-like dimensions and weight to a standstill, and with all its electronic systems and driver aids working in unison, the RS was deceptively easy to drive.

Sporty and futuristic interior

Much like its exterior lines, the design of the spacious interior combines taut, sinewy surfaces with clearly defined contours. The upper MMI touch response display embedded in the black-panelled architecture and the special RS displays used the (optional) Audi Virtual Cockpit Plus to provide detailed information on tyre pressures, torque, performance, oil temperature, boost pressure, lap times, acceleration, and g-forces.

Inside, RS logos abound, and the optional Valcona leather sports seats were snug, yet comfortable – even on extended trips. The RS design package added a splash of colour, with contrasting red stitching on the steering wheel and gear lever gaiter, and red edging for the seat belt straps. Luggage space is huge (between 565 and 1,680 litres of usable space) and 14 mm larger than the previous model.

Besides the standard kit, our Dark Lord was also fitted with additional options worth R359,050; including seat heaters, carbon fabric inserts, Head-up display, RS dynamic package, Black styling package, Tour assistance package, Lane change and Park Assist package, and gloss black Audi Rings and nameplate – elevating the standard price of R2,070,000 to approximately R2,43 million…

Last word

The latest iteration of the fourth generation RS6 Avant has a brooding, sinister presence due to its powerful, edgy design (although some may find it somewhat OTT). The brutish wagon marks its iconic status by combining supercar-chasing performance with remarkable practicality, and due to its ease of operation, it can comfortably serve as a shopping trolley, long-distance cruiser or boulevard bruiser…

Its broad suit of control and command systems and raucous popping and banging exhaust setup, can make any driver a hero but, be warned, under its charcoal exoskeleton resides a thirsty dark force requiring iron-fist control at the limit. So never underestimate it. 

May the force be with you.

Text: FERDI DE VOS | Images: RYAN ABBOTT

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