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Audi RS6 Avant
We can’t think of another car that provides as much space and pace as the RS6 Avant. With a Lamborghini-derived V10 under the bonnet, the 572bhp Audi is the most powerful machine here, while its 565-litre boot also makes it the most practical. But buyers in this sector are a demanding bunch, so does the RS6 have what it takes?
While estate cars now enjoy vastly increased popularity, the RS6 Avant lacks the visual punch of its rivals. Even the saloon version is a model of understated intent, so if you crave attention, the twin-turbocharged Audi isn’t for you.
The load carrier is 42mm shorter than the Panamera, and it can’t match the Porsche for rear legroom. However, as the only five-seater in our test, it does have a more flexible interior. The cabin architecture is shared with the regular A6 – which starts at £24,900 – so it doesn’t have the unique feel that you get from the Porsche, but buyers won’t feel short-changed. Highlights include a chunky steering wheel, supportive seats, classy instruments and excellent materials. However, the electrically adjustable driver’s seat didn’t sink as low as we wanted it to.
Turn the key, and the V10 engine barks into life before settling down to a quiet idle. And unless you really work the 5.0-litre powerplant, that’s how it stays. It can’t match the Mercedes or Porsche for aural excitement at low speeds.
What you do get is ferocious punch. With 650Nm of torque from 1,500rpm, acceleration is incredible. The RS6 is capable of indecent speeds in mere seconds, so you have to exercise self-restraint to stay on the right side of the limit.
At the track, the four-wheel-drive Audi posted stunning figures, sprinting from 0-60mph in 4.4 seconds – 1.1 seconds quicker than the Panamera. On the road, the quattro drivetrain enables you to use that performance with real confidence. The heavy steering is artificially weighted and lacks feel, but incredible traction and grip provide impressive all-weather pace.
So the Audi is highly effective, yet it’s not as rewarding as the Porsche or BMW, nor as charismatic as the Mercedes. It’s also the heaviest car here, and its brakes need a firm shove before producing a response – although it still outshines the CLS.
Around town, pulling to a halt smoothly requires concentration, as the brakes fight against the torque of the V10 engine. But the three-way adjustable suspension does a decent job of smoothing out bumps and potholes in the Comfort setting.
At £76,090, the most powerful production Audi ever provides the most bang for your buck in the test, but you admire the RS6 for its abilities rather than lust after it.
Engine: 5.0-litre V10, 572bhp
0-60mph: 4.4 seconds
30-70mph: 3.8 seconds
AE economy: 14.6mpg