The electric age may be near, but Audi’s ballistic quattro division is giving internal combustion one last hurrah. Say hello to the RS6 Avant Performance, a harder version of Audi’s weapons-grade wagon set to do battle against the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo and incoming BMW M5 Touring.
While the heart of the RS6 Avant Performance is still Audi’s familiar four-liter twin-turbocharged V8, larger turbochargers pushing more boost bump peak output from 591 horsepower to 621 — not a huge change but more power is always more better. Torque also jumps by 37 lb.-ft. to 627, but peak numbers alone don’t seem to explain a claimed two-tenth reduction in zero-to-60 time. More likely, power under the curve could be boosted significantly and updated shift programming may also play an important part in decreasing acceleration times. (Sadly, no stick shift available. Only eight-speed auto).
Speaking of powertrain components, Audi has redesigned the mechanical center differential to be smaller, lighter, and more precise. The standard torque split is 40:60 front-to-rear, but this diff can send up to 70 percent of the vehicle’s torque to the front axle or up to 85 percent to the rear axle when the going gets slippery. Handy for, say, dashing through the snow in a 621-horsepower sleigh.
Have a gander down the options list and you can wrap those Contis around milled forged wheels that are each 11 pounds lighter than the standard wheels, which adds up to a serious reduction in unsprung mass. Oh, and so long as you pop for 22-inch wheels, they’ll come wrapped in new 285-section Continental Sport Contact 7 tires that allegedly cut 6.5 feet from the 62 mph-to-zero braking distance and reduce understeer. Audi also claims that steering self-centering has been improved, although it hasn’t divulged how.
In addition to the usual powertrain and tire upgrades expected from a more focused model, Audi has reduced the amount of sound insulation over the standard RS6 Avant to make the driving experience more emotive. While it only cuts weight by 17.6 pounds, sound is a huge part of interaction with a vehicle and giving up a little bit of isolation for some extra engagement seems like a fair trade.
On the inside, Audi’s going heavy on the fan service. The digital instrument cluster has been revamped to include shift lights and a white gauge theme that recalls the S6 Plus of the ‘90s, while a new blue RS Design interior option puts a subtle twist on the RS2’s interior theme with blue seat inserts, blue seatbelts, and blue-accented carbon twill trim bits.
Of course, beyond all the speed and glitz, the RS6 Avant Performance is still a commodious station wagon sporting 30 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats and a long, easily-accessible roof for anything you wish to carry on a roof rack. It’s a genuine all-in-one car, even if it typically comes with a note bigger than many mortgages.
All of this speed and practicality doesn’t come cheap. The 2024 Audi RS6 Avant Performance starts at $126,895 including a $1,095 freight charge, and that’s before you delve into the options list. If you want to get really fancy, you can try to secure one of 75 Bronze Edition cars with black paint, gold wheels, and all the extras under the sun including steel sports suspension with diagonally-linked three-way adjustable dampers and a 174-mph top speed limiter. Oh, and if a fast wagon doesn’t float your boat for some reason, all the RS6 Avant Performance’s little improvements also apply to its $128,895 RS7 Performance fastback brother.
(Photo credits: Audi)
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