The new Audi RS6 Avant is certainly a beguiling package. It is, after all, a four-wheel-drive estate that's capable of outgunning Audi's own R8 supercar, yet can carry the family and all their clutter at the same time.
It's a formula that Audi (and others) have pursued before. However, the previous RS6 Avant was disappointing to drive, despite being powered by a monstrous V10 engine.
This time it's the company's latest 552bhp twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 serving up the grunt, and promising far greater efficiency to go with it: a combination of an eight-speed auto 'box, stop-start and cylinder deactivation technology helps to improve fuel economy by up to 42% compared with that of the previous car.
As with all hot Audis, the RS6's massive power output gets channelled through a four-wheel-drive chassis, while there's also a raft of technical and cosmetic enhancements over lesser models in the A6 range.
What's the 2013 Audi RS6 Avant like to drive?
The RS6 Avant is defined by its outstanding V8 engine, which delivers all the potency a sane driver could ever want with plenty left to spare.
It's mind-bogglingly fast for any car, let alone a large family estate. Merely brushing the throttle moves you imperceptibly from urban cruising speeds to autobahn pace, where the RS6 plays the role of refined cruiser well.
Plant your foot to the floor and you'll be speared towards the horizon in violent fashion. The whole experience is aided and abetted by the crisp-shifting eight-speed gearbox, which changes smoothly in unhurried driving, and then responds quickly and at the right moment when you're driving hard.
The suspension can be altered via the standard Drive Select system, which also varies the response of the steering, throttle and gearbox. You can also specify a Dynamic Sports pack, which swaps the standard air suspension for steel springs, and liberates you of the limited top speed, too. This pack also adds ceramic brakes.
Regardless of which electronic mode or suspension set-up you choose, the RS6 is supremely grippy and responsive. Some might find the optional Dynamic steering a touch too heavy, but muscling the big RS6 through tight corners is a satisfying experience.
However, you're always aware you're driving a big, heavy estate car. The RS6 isn't even as agile as a Mercedes E63 AMG Estate, let alone a 'proper' sports car.
Nor does the Audi sound or feel as dramatic as the Merc though there is an option of a sports exhaust.
On the plus side, keep the suspension in 'Comfort' mode and it masks lumps and bumps in the road admirably, while the RS6 is a more capable all-weather proposition than the Mercedes E63 AMG.
What's the 2013 Audi RS6 Avant like inside?
Just as sumptuous as you'd expect. The electrically adjustable sports seats have a quilted-leather finish as standard, and offer all the lateral support and adjustment you could want.
A flat-bottomed steering wheel, aluminium paddles and pedals, an eight-inch colour screen, sat-nav, a DAB radio, Bluetooth, RS badging and four-zone climate control are all included.
There's plenty of space for two tall adults in the back seats, while the 565-litre boot is a useful square shape and, by the time the rear seats are folded down, the RS6 becomes a supremely effective load carrier.
So, for all its lunatic tendencies, the RS6 will still serve as ideal family transport.
Should I buy one?
There's no doubt the RS6's intoxicating cocktail of space, four-wheel drive and punch-in-the-face performance makes it devastatingly effective. What you need to consider, though, is if you really need that four-wheel-drive transmission. If the answer is 'not really' then the E63 AMG Mercedes Estate is more pleasing to drive and a little more spacious, too.
The Audi RS6 Avant is available with some very expensive options. Add a few of these and the asking price will creep towards six figures surprisingly quickly.
What Car? says...
Engine size 4.0-litre turbo V8 petrol
Torque 517lb ft
0-62mph 3.9 seconds
Top speed 155mph
Fuel economy 28.8mpg