The Audi RS6 is a 5.0-metre long estate that will blast past 62mph in the same time as a Lamborghini Gallardo. Its not an exaggeration to say that the 552bhp 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 and permanent four-wheel drive in the RS6 have given this practical family wagon supercar performance.
An eight-speed automatic gearbox, air suspension, and a differential that shuffles power between the left and right rear wheels complete the RS6s arsenal of performance tech.
Efficiency isnt neglected, with a lightened body, engine stop-start system, and cylinder-on-demand technology that shuts down four of the eight cylinders when the engine doesnt need its full performance. It adds up to a whopping 42% improvement in economy over the previous V10 Audi RS6, although that only translates into a claimed 28.8mpg.
Whats the 2013 Audi RS6 like to drive?
Quite surreal in its ability to shrink distances. Big, heavy cars often mask high speeds very effectively and the RS6 is no exception, so its alarmingly easy to find yourself doing Lamborghini speeds when youre driving nonchalantly.
Theres even the option of a Dynamic Plus package that lifts the top speed from a restricted 155mph to 190mph. Our test car came with this package; its a 10,725 option that includes ceramic brakes, variable-ratio dynamic steering, full-LED headlights and Dynamic Ride Control, which means the air suspension is replaced with a sophisticated steel spring setup. The suspension can be altered via the standard Drive Select system, which also varies the response of the steering, accelerator and gearbox.
Ultimately, regardless of the electronic mode, the RS6 is supremely grippy and responsive. Some might find the optional dynamic steering a touch too heavy, but its satisfying to feel like youre muscling the big RS6 through tight corners, which itll do with precision and unflappable stability.
For all this, the RS6 is defined by its sizeable width, which youre always aware of, so it never feels like a very agile car.
The V8 delivers all the potency you could ever want. Its an outstanding engine, spinning smoothly up to and beyond its peak power at 6700rpm, helped by the huge 516lb ft thats available all the way from 1650 to 5500rpm.
All of this potential goes through the eight-speed gearbox, which shifts smoothly in unhurried driving and then responds crisply and at the right moment when you want it to. Stick it in manual mode and the box will also hold a gear until you change it via the standard paddles.
Our test car was fitted with an optional sports exhaust which, under hard acceleration, fills the cabin with an appealing if slightly harsh note.
Thankfully the RS6 is a refined, relaxing cruiser when you want it to be. The cabin is hushed enough for normal conversation at high speeds, and you cant tell when the engine switches from eight cylinders to four. Crucially, ride comfort is also good, even with the more performance-oriented steel springs.
Provided you avoid the dynamic setting, the RS6 soaks up potholes and ruts in the road surface, while the taut body control and supple damping keeps occupants isolated almost regardless of speed.
Overall, the RS6 is a relaxing, easy car to drive thats also a giant-slayer when it comes to performance.
Whats the 2013 Audi RS6 like inside?
Just as sumptuous as youd expect. The electrically adjustable sports seats have a quilted-leather finish as standard, and offer all the lateral support and adjustability you could want.
A flat-bottomed steering wheel, aluminium paddles and pedals, an eight-inch colour screen, sat-nav, DAB radio, Bluetooth and USB, RS badging and four-zone climate control are all included.
Theres plenty of space for two tall adults in the back seats, while the 565-litre boot is a useful shape and gets a powered tailgate as standard. For all its sporting intent, the RS6 will still serve as ideal family transport.
Should I buy one?
If youve got the means and the motive to buy a seriously rapid estate with the associated sky-high running costs, then yes. The rear-wheel-drive Mercedes E63 AMG is a better bet for driver thrills, but the RS6 is still devastatingly effective.
Just make sure youve got enough cash for the RS6 you actually want. There are enough very expensive options available, including some that will dramatically impact on the way it drives, that the price will creep towards six figures with surprising ease.
What Car? says...
Engine size 4.0-litre turbocharged V8
Price from 76,985
Torque 517lb ft
0-62mph 3.9 seconds
Top speed 155mph
Fuel economy 28.8mpg
By Vicky Parrott