Who would want to buy a station wagon that weighs two tonnes and spills over your parking in this part of the world? Not because it could come in handy when you’re moving homes; or because it looks cool in red, burning red. Maybe because you want to swing it around the autodrome for your weekend adrenaline or you want to scare off the tailgaters with a growl that’s full with bang and sputter.
The Audi RS6 is like an estate bull that pulls your wagon by day and fights matadors in the arena in the evenings. But is that reason enough to pay more than half a million dirhams for Audi’s flaming estate wagon?
UPSIDE: Immensely powerful, Enormous storage, comfortable rear seats, all-round parking aid, carbon fibre embellishments, Wild throttle feedback
FLIPSIDE: Summer heat sometimes gets better of the AC, test car was designed for four passengers only, Too smooth for sport in normal drive,
The Price: Starting from AED 450,000. Test car cost over half a million
The Audi RS6 was my fifth encounter with the same engine that drives the Bentley Continental GT and the Audi S-series. The 4.0 litre powerhouse that can switch off four of its eight cylinders for fuel efficiency, and answers to a start-stop button, is too silent to be heard on a settled family drive. But push it harder and it livens up the whole scene with firecrackers bursting its rear end.
The Audi RS6 has a massive 565 L of luggage space, which maxes out at 1680 with seats folded, but the maximum load that this estate takes is perhaps counted not in Kilograms but in Newton Metres. Driven by 700 Newton metres of torque, its 552 hp engine can take the car from 0 to 100 in 3.9 seconds.
The 8-speed transmission is fluent without a glitch and comes with a 7-speed manual shift as well. The throttle and suspension offers four settings – standard Audi fare – Auto, Comfort, Dynamic and Individually tweaked. In the first two, the car is flowing through the road and even the curves feels silken at times – you can hardly feel the road dammit! So, when you don’t have passengers to please, you will rather stick to the Dynamic mode, and enjoy the sporty side of the firmly weighted steering. Flat-bottomed and slip-proof, it is quite something to hold on to as you edge towards breakaway velocity!
With the enormous torque available from 1750 and 5500rpms, every moment urges you to go, go, go! And not without reason. Audi’s larger Avant just held its ground while taking corners or ramps, letting me manage its weight in a nice drift. It might looks a bit odd from the outside, watching such a leviathan of a car executing such tricky manoeuvres but for the insiders, it feels completely natural.
With its raking rear windshield and a bumper thrust further rearward, the Audi RS6 creates a sportive rear end. The new Audi trapezoidal grille with its massive air dams flanked by carbon fibre, and the narrow headlamps – all clad in black and aggressive mesh – probably qualifies for the best looking menace in town. The 21-inch wheels with carbon finished 10-spoke alloy wheels – that’s another piece of marvel. It is a very unusually designed station wagon but then it is an unusual car to begin with, if only by the way it owns the road with its sprawling sheet metal.
Beginning to justify the half a million is the overload of carbon fibre in the Audi RS6. The lower bumper, the mirror housing, the dash inserts, the door inserts… it’s every-possible-where and looks genuinely rich, nice and feels exceptionally strong to the touch.
The sporty interiors of the RS6 is highlighted by the thick, knurled steering wheel. Red stitching makes a honeycomb out of the luscious black Valcona leather even as a stark red seatbelt snaps out the last bit of the dilemma – station wagon or sports car?
Cabin and Controls
The dash and console in the RS6 are among the nicest even by Audi standards. The typical knob with rotary and corner controls navigates the 7-inch screen of the Audi MMI simply enough. But the one-touch operation for your six favourite stations, which doubles up as a touch-sensitive patch on which you can write out the number you want to dial as well as voice commands for the navigation and the radio make cabin controls easier than ever.
The RS6 makes for estate-standard view with a wide and all-encompassing rear wind screen, and side mirrors that are well in sync with the window lines. The blind spot flash is closer, just behind the side mirror housing – rather convenient.
The RS6 screen also features an all round camera with five view choices. The front, the rear or the corners– nothing escapes its all-surveying eye. The graphic mode with a top view of obstacles around is like a ‘parking-for-dummies’ guide. We’ve seen in it an Audi before and the new Range Rover and Bimmer as well. It’s quite natural that the option where the car parks itself is missing in this car; you really don’t need it!
As I stepped out at the end of each exhilarating drive, I kept changing the position of the light switch. Access seating wouldn’t have been too much to ask for in a half-a-million dirham Audi!
When it comes to a weekend escape, the estate persona of the car takes over, like a well-rounded butler! The comfortable front seats can be reclined almost flat but in a rare incidence in car cabins, the rear seats are even more comfortable. The boot can easily swallow a mountain bike and the Audi RS6 is complete with roof rails and all that. It even has a panoramic, cabin-length roof.
The Audi RS6 rolls over road obstacles with the least hint of them to the passenger, especially in the comfort mode. Just as lovable as the suspensions with their adaptive damping system are the brakes. They not only contain the tremendous power of the car, but brings it to a stop so systematically that the passengers are never shaken out of comfort. The air suspensions were particularly helpful in parking lots with those high front stoppers, because the car could be raised or lowered.
It was the peak of summer, yes. However, in a cabin that lets you control rear climate from front, and even offered options in footwell cooling, it was surprising that I was breaking into sweat under my knees; and it was certainly not because the RS6 was giving me a hard time! Another odd thing about my test car was that the fifth passenger space was surrendered to an odd, shallow, storage niche in the middle. Thankfully, you can opt that oddity out and get the fifth seat back in!
The invisible passenger
Now why would anyone design a station wagon with space for eight-cylinders and everything else but a fifth rider? Wait a sec. Perhaps there is a fifth passenger in the Audi RS6, though invisible! Just listen hard and you can hear it roar from right under the front left fender of the RS6 as you let go of the accelerator. The throttle feedback sounds much like a caged lion and is the only hint you have of the monstrous power that lies beneath, until you decide to unleash it.
Drive Courtesy: Audi Volkswagen Middle East
Pictures: Orkun Orcan / Sudeep Koshy