The 2020 Audi RS6 Avant is one of the most well-known performance wagons in the automotive world. It’s a swiss army knife, that one vehicle that could deliver the kids to school, take you skiing on the weekend, the daily grind at work and still be able to tear your eyeballs from their sockets on the track. 

But it’s 2020, and the automotive world has changed, the super wagons are not alone on the open road, they are being followed and sometimes overtaken by the growing number of performance SUVs.  

I am in the very fortunate position to be the only car reviewer that I know of in New Zealand that owns one. A 2009 Audi RS6, the one with the 572bhp twin-turbo V10. It’s got all the bells and whistles, fully loaded with options, even the carbon ceramic brakes. I love driving it, it’s such a beast, and it’s still going strong as it closes in on 200,000km on the clock. What this means is that I am not going to have glazed-over eyes and say things like OMG it’s sooo fast. Nor will I compare it in one hundredth of a second increments to what it is or isn’t faster than, because if you have one, you don’t care as you love it for what it is. With that in mind it’s fair to say that I have been looking forward to this review for some time. 

How has 10 years changed the RS6, does it still warrant the respect the badge has had over the years, or is it losing its appeal and heading towards extinction? 

The Range

There is only one variant of the RS6, the Avant. However if the Avant is not your thing, the RS7 is the same car, just with the different body shape of the fastback coupe.

The powerplant behind the heart of the new RS6 is a 4.0-litre V8 twin-turbo TFSI engine with quattro permanent all-wheel drive. This engine produces 441kW of power (600hp) and  maximum torque of 800Nm. This allows a top speed of 250km/h which can be increased to 280km/h with the optional RS Dynamic package. It can also launch this family wagon from 0-100km/h in 3.6 seconds. The advertised combined fuel consumption is 11.7l/100km, a somewhat irrelevant stat on a vehicle like this, as you never want to drive them efficiently.

Quickly comparing this to my own 2009 RS6, it’s powered by a 5.0-litre V10 twin turbo TFSI engine with quattro permanent all-wheel drive. It produces 426kW of power (572hp) and 650Nm of torque. The top speed is also 250km/h and it has a 0-100km/h of 4.2 seconds. As you can see the figures for almost 10 years difference are not too dissimilar. However the 2020 engine is lighter, and more efficient than the older V10. This weight will be the major factor where the extra acceleration has been gained, s it’s no easy feat to get 0.6 of a second difference below 5 seconds.

The 2020 Audi RS6 is very well equipped as standard, here are some of the highlights. It has acoustic glass for door and side windows, privacy glass (dark-tinted windows), RS sports exhaust system, tyre pressure monitoring system, tyre mobility system, parking aid plus with 360° display, lane change assistant with exit warning system and rear cross traffic alert, extended pedestrian protection, adaptive cruise assist with emergency assist, Audi pre sense front, Audi pre sense rear, head-up display, adaptive cruise control with speed limiter, efficiency assist, swerve assist and turn assist, contour/ambient lighting package, multi-color, HD Matrix LED headlamps with Audi laser light, dynamic light design and dynamic turn signal, RS sports suspension plus with dynamic ride control (DRC), Audi drive select, rear hatch – electrically opening and closing, 4-zone climate control system, seat heaters in front and rear, Bang & Olufsen premium sound system with 3D sound, MMI Navigation plus with MMI touch response, Audi music interface in the rear seat area, Audi connect emergency call & service with Audi connect remote & control, Audi virtual cockpit, sports contour leather-wrapped steering wheel with multifunction plus with shift paddles.

You can add to that list, panoramic glass sunroof for $5000 and you can upgrade to the Bang & Olufsen advanced sound system with 3D sound for $15,000 and RS ceramic brakes for $24,000.

There are 3 packages available to select on your RS6. The RS Dynamic Package, and two appearance packages. The RS Dynamic package is $11,000 and includes dynamic steering, Quattro with sports differential, all-wheel steering and a top speed increase to 280km/h. The first appearance package is the Glossy Black package for $2,500, which swaps out all of the silver trim with gloss black. The second appearance package is carbon/glossy black for $13,000, which swaps out all of the silver trim for a mixture of carbon fibre and glossy black.

There are 8 colours to choose from; 5 metallic, 1 pearl effect, 1 crystal effect and 1 solid finish. There is only an extra cost to the crystal effect paint, $2500. Our review can was optioned with the Daytona Gray Pearlescent finish. 

It also comes standard with 22-inch alloy wheels, a 5-V-spoke trapezoid style which is available with 3 different finishes. Standard alloy, matte titanium and anthracite black. Both of the optional finishes a $1000 extra.

Interior leather packages come standard with honeycomb stitching, in 4 different options. Black with express red dashboard, black with black dashboard, black with rock gray dashboard and cognac with granite dashboard. You are able to add to this with a red or gray RS styling package for $4,700. This adds black seatbelts with red or gray edges and upper and lower interior elements with controls in alcantara/leather.

Our review car was the standard spec coming in at $218,900. If you go all out and tick every option available, you will have a pretty tricked-out vehicle, but you will also be looking at a final price of around $310,000.

First Impressions

That’s an aggressive looking vehicle – sharp styling, big stance, huge wheels and it looks fast while standing still. I do like the look of the latest model, much more than the previous generation. It’s a bit more subtle, more sleeper like. My own RS6 is a total sleeper and I love that about it, the 2020 model has found itself somewhere in between. You’re not sure what to expect from it, but you know it means business. 

The Daytona Grey was a great colour selection to showcase its lines, highlighted by the silver alloy areas in the front and rear bumper, side skirts, roof rails and window trims. Every aspect of the design works well together and the 22-inch trapezoid style alloys were just mesmerising. 

I got the key in hand and it was time to take this beast on the road to see what the latest generation of the legendary RS6 is like to live with on a daily basis. 

The Inside

The inside of the new RS6 is like sitting in a lifestyle magazine. Lush seats, clean lines, open pore, reflective surfaces, edgy and funky. Overall it’s a pretty modern interior, spec’d with the latest materials and hi-tech touch screens. I really liked the raw carbon fibre, so nice to touch while feeling very sporty. 

The seats are really nice, the honeycomb pattern across them just oozes of luxury. Bit jealous of those, as they make my one RS seats look a bit average. These RS seats are great, the right amount of cushioning and side support. The adjustable leg rest is always a nice touch too, great for taller drivers.

Room in the back seats is good, increased from what my car has available. I’m a tall guy and I could sit behind my driver seat position comfortably. We also have our baby seat in the back, which again had loads of room. My daughter is at that stage where she wants to do everything herself, so she wanted to climb into the seats on her own. We did move the front seat forward a bit to avoid the kicking feet, but there was plenty of room to do this, leaving the front passenger in a comfortable position.

The drivers display and HUD worked very well. I would have liked to have seen more info on the HUD when in standard drive mode, as it only showed the speed. Once in sport, RS1 or RS2 the HUD and driver’s display changed over to a futuristic racy rpm graph, with a g-force meter and power/torque percentage gauges. I’m not sure who would have time to look at this when driving enthusiastically, but they were fun to have. Back in the standard drive mode the driver’s display shows two typical RPM and speed gauges, with a large multi functional space in between them. Here you could have an array of information show, media playing or even the gps navigation. A well thought out setup, easy to get used to.

The noise level inside the cabin was heavily controlled by the double glazed windows. This made the cabin a rather peaceful place, as it drowned out a lot of road and wind noise. I must say I was a bit on the fence about how effective the glazing was, one side it made the cabin quiet and free from unwanted noise. However it also reduced the wanted noise like the engine and the exhaust too. I guess you can’t have everything, but they seem to reach an acceptable balance.

The sound system was a bit underwhelming, it didn’t sound any better than many of the cars we tested, good range, good clarity, an all round ok system. If you want something special you can upgrade to the Bang & Olufsen advanced sound system with 3D sound. Our review car did not have this option. However, what really struck me by surprise was that the standard system was also B&O. The name is barely visible in the speakers in the bottom of the doors. I really would have expected more from such a high profile brand name like Bang and Olufsen.

The two central media displays are both touch screens, or as I came to describe them, push screens. Unlike the touch screens we are all used to, Audi have added a tactile button pushing function to theirs. So if you touch a button or icon on the screen it does nothing, you need to push it to activate it. Bit weird, not what I was expecting, but I guess you would get used to it. Apart from that, the rest of the MMI system is super easy to use, swipe left and right for menu and options, all displayed with nice graphics and instructions. Easy to find what you want. The second display under the main one controlled the aircon, heated and cooled seats, and a range of other comfort options. I like how they have used these systems to control what used to be a sea of plastic buttons across the dash. It also removes the issues of multiple blank buttons around the cabin too. 

A lot of cars in this price bracket have the same issues I had with the new RS6: there is nowhere to put anything. If I want to take my wallet or phone out of my pockets, where can I put it? There is a wireless charging pad under the central armrest, not a great location. But this is the only location to put anything, mainly as the dash is covered in screens or fancy trim. Sometimes this is the downside of edgy design, it’s not always practical. Having a shelf or area you can just put stuff, coins etc. is always handy, but not something you can do in this RS6.

The boot was around the same size as the boot in my car, however the door opened up so much further. I normally have to duck under mine, but the boot in the new RS6 opening right out of the way. I also liked the automatic retracting boot cover as the door opened too. There was a small cubby to the left side of the compartment and plenty of tie down hooks for anchoring loads. My own RS6 has a boot rail system that slides up and down to hold items in place. I would recommend getting this, as when you put the power down, if it’s not tied down in the boot, it’s going to slide around when the g’s kick in.  

The Drive

For those who drive or have driven high performance Audis, they will know the Quattro system is an impressive bit of kit. Born from the early days of group B World Rally Championships, this system aids the driver in unexpected environments. For example, back in November last year I was reviewing the HSV Chevrolet Camaro a 477kW supercharged V8 rear wheel drive coupe. It rained for almost the entire week that I had it, which was somewhat uncomfortable. I had to make sure I never pushed the boat out too far, If I did it would have killed me. The new RS6 is a 441kW twin turbo V8 with Quattro AWD. It also rained for most of the time I had the car, which didn’t make a slight bit of difference in how I drove it. In the pouring rain, I was comfortably able to take the RS6 through my normal test routes at pace. Where the Camaro would have left the road, the Audi takes it in its stride, giving the driver the feedback and confidence to drive in bad conditions. If you haven’t, and you get the chance to try one, it’s hard not to be impressed.

One thing I did notice about the new RS6 is that the steering is a lot lighter. The electronically controlled steering is effortless, you don’t have to work the wheel, it goes where you want it, allowing you better control in the corners. It’s really noticeable back to back with my own, if I was to pick, I would aim for something in between, but the handling of the new RS6 is amazing for such a big vehicle. 

The acceleration of the new RS6 can only but leave you with a big grin on your face. With the pedal to the floor, your body is forced back into the seat as it goes from stand still to 100km/h in 3.6 seconds. This is one of the items improved on my own car. Even though my RS6 does 0-100km/h in 4.2 seconds, getting there was not as dramatic due to the huge torque available from the engine. It is fast but it didn’t throw you back in the seat, it’s more civilised. The 2020 RS6 has a better balance while making it more exciting to begin with and then it regains its civilised luxury. 

With the power comes the music, oh the sound is so good. You can’t beat the deep muscle car gurgle of a powerful V8, and the new RS6 is music to my ears. You know those crazy action movies like Transformers, where there are big V8 cars that sound incredible, totally over the top and fake. The kinda of noise you wished your car made. The new RS6, does that. When you feed in the power the roar from the engine and exhaust is intoxicating. If not for the speed limit, you just want to let it continue to build and build just to see what will happen next. As far as sound goes, it has to be one of the best sounding cars I have tested this year.

Flowing from standard drive mode to sport or the two RS modes is effortless. For a quick change into sports mode, all you need to do is pull back the T-bar gearstick and it goes from D to S, same again to go back into D. Once in sports mode, the car’s responses get a bit sharper and the exhaust note gets louder. I found myself driving around in sports mode for the majority of the time, drinking up all that glorious exhaust music. Much like my own car, I find the standard drive mode too quiet. It’s great to be able to have these options, so for those early morning starts you don’t wake the entire neighbourhood, and when you’re out on the open road, switching to sports mode for more noise. 

RS1 and RS2 are the two custom modes available, where you tweak an array of settings, engine, gearbox, suspension, driver assist and exhaust. You can select this mode by using the central console or the RS button on the steering wheel. Both modes allow you to configure it how you like it. This means you can have RS1 setup for a bit of sport driving, loud noise and sharp performance while keeping all the driver assists on. RS2 could then be set up for the track, with everything at max and the lowest level of driver assists like traction control. I am a bit jealous of this setup, as my own has all the adjustment, but it does not have one easy button to activate them all. 

Back to those massive, cool alloy wheels, 22-inch as standard. They look amazing on the car. My own RS6 came stock with 20-inch wheels, big for its day, somewhat normal now. The brakes and feedback are perfect, whether it’s a quick jab or a light nudge, you know just how much to press to give you the stopping power you want. From my experience there are two things to share about the wheels and brakes. The tyres are not going to be cheap, you’re probably looking at least $1000 per wheel, and due to the low profile and depending on how you drive, you might have to change these once a year. The quattro system is great, but you need to rotate your wheels and keep them aligned to get the most out of the tyres. Otherwise you will be replacing tyres when the side walls are worn and there is still tread depth left in the middle of the tyre. 

The brakes are another thing to be aware of in a car like this. They are big and they are used a lot, by the driver and by the Quattro system to keep you on the road. Unless you splash out for the carbon ceramic brakes, you need to keep your rotors and pads clean and free of any dust build up. The dust build up can superheat on the pads and harden, this then dust wears groves into the rotors which can make the car squeak or reduce the life of the rotors. I found a water blast in them once a week to help keep them as clean as they can be. Thankfully my RS6 has the ceramic package, and still on the original factory rotors too without much sign of wear. Both the tyres and brake notes are not a downside, it’s just a reflection of the level of maintenance that’s required for many high performance vehicles like this. 

Laser lights, yes you heard me, lasers. This new Audi was equipped with HD Matrix LED headlamps with Audi laser light. Bright is how I would describe the sun, and how bright these lights are. Once in the pitch black of night with no street lights or anything around, the laser lights step in. its almost like pulling open a curtain across the front of the car, suddenly the night has turned into day. It was a bit of a shock when they first came on, so bright. As part of the auto headlights, I for a second forgot and saw traffic coming towards me. Like magic a black shape formed around the car, laser lights making sure it did not blind oncoming traffic. So cool.

Fuel consumption was to be expected, especially since this vehicle wants you to enjoy driving, taunting you to be less efficient. Let’s be honest, if you want an efficient car, this is the wrong one for you, it’s not trying to be, even though it has an efficient drive mode. Once selected it felt like the car just relaxed, everything got slower to react in an attempt to be more efficient. But really the car just died a bit inside because you selected that mode. Audi has advertised the combined fuel consumption to be 11.7 litres per 100km. I found over the course of the week, my combined figures were more around 17.5 litres per 100km. To be fair here, this is a new RS6 that I have for a week, so I did drive it harder then I normally would to experience what I could in the time I had. My owner RS6 sits around 15.5 liters per 100km, and I would imagine this model would do something similar if not a tiny bit better during a typical driving week. With a 73 litre tank, and the average price of 98, around $2.28, you’re looking at $165 to fill a tank. When I used to daily drive my RS6, I would generally refill the tank once a week, I’ll let you do the maths. 

I was worried when getting in the new RS6 that it would feel different or wouldn’t feel right. Thankfully it was not the case, jumping in felt like a glove that was made to measure. Even driving around Wellington for the first hour felt like I was driving a car I had owned for years. Audi have followed the old adage: don’t fix it if it ain’t broken. Where they improved was where the older models had room to. 

The Competition

In the new car market in New Zealand right now, there is no direct competition for the Audi RS6 Avant. There are many other options in and around this price level, high-performance coupes, sedans and SUVs. Normally Mercedes-Benz have the AMG E 63 S wagon, however it’s not yet available for sale in New Zealand. Which means, if you want a super performance wagon, there really is only one option currently available.

Brand / ModelEnginePower kW/NmNumber of SeatsFuel L/100kmBoot Capacity LitresPrice Highest to Lowest
Audi RS64.0-litre V8 Twin Turbo441/800511.7565$218,900

Pros

  • Slick, aggressive styling
  • Power for days
  • Those wheels
  • Yup, it’s fast
  • RS buttons
  • Engine startup
  • Muscle car sound
  • Smooth and comfy ride
  • Great build quality
  • Beautiful handling, quattro
  • Fine quality, luxury interior
  • Tech level and safety features
  • Laser headlights are amazing
  • Good boot

Cons

  • B&O audio system, bit average
  • Central console touch screen buttons
  • Double glazing, muffles engine noise
  • Fuel consumption
  • Nowhere handy to put phone or wallet
  • Alternative performance options, sedans, coupes and SUV’s

2020 Audi RS6 Avant

Vehicle TypePerformance Wagon
Starting Price$218,900
Price as Tested$218,900
Engine4.0-litre petrol twin turbo V8
Power, Torque
kW/Nm
441/800
TransmissionEight-speed tiptronic
Spare WheelNone, Gel puncture kit
Kerb Weight, Kg2,075
Length x Width x Height, mm4995 x 1951 x 1460
Cargo Capacity, litres565/1680
Fuel tank capacity, litres73 
Fuel Economy, L/100kmAdvertised Spec – Combined – 11.6
Real World Test – Combined – 18.5
Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
Towing CapacityKg, unbraked/braked750 /2100
Turning circle, metres12
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
 Warranty5 years warranty
ANCAP Safety Ratings5 Star

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Economy
5
Interior
9
Performance
9
Safety
9
Styling
9
Value
6
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It started at a young age with bedroom posters, the Countach of course. This slowly grew into a super car die-cast model collection, fifty five 1:18 models at the last count. At which point it had almost taken full control, the incurable Mad Car Disease ran deep though my veins all the way to the bone. And things for my loved ones just got worse as the cars where now being bought at 1:1 scale, after a BMW, HSV, and couple of Audi's, the disease reached my brain, pushing me over the edge and down the rabbits hole into the world of the bedroom poster.

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