It’s easy to be thrilled by the 2022 Audi RS 6 Avant given its long list of superlatives. Its twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine produces 591 hp as well as 590 lb-ft of torque, all while making a gorgeous roar. That engine is paired with a very competent eight-speed automatic gearbox and, naturally, Quattro all-wheel drive. The result is a big-ass, very practical car that can scoot to 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds. It can also haul five people and a whole bunch of stuff from Ikea. Really, the RS 6 Avant is a car that can do just about everything.
Full Disclosure: Audi wanted me to drive the RS 6 Avant so badly that it had one dropped off at my house for a week with a full tank of gas. They did make me give it back, despite some shameless pleading on my part.
The RS 6 Avant is an impressive performance car, and it’s amazing how fast it feels all of the time. The engine and transmission work well together to deliver power quickly and smoothly, and the massive P275/35YR-21 summer tires and Quattro all-wheel drive make sure that power gets to the pavement with a minimal amount of bother. The midrange acceleration offered by that turbocharged V8 is especially impressive, with very little perceivable turbo lag, making the car relentlessly quick while passing.
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The RS 6's chassis is good enough to handle the power of that snarling V8, too, though the wagon does have a tendency to understeer when pushed. Still, thanks to standard air suspension and optional Audi Dynamic Ride Control 48-volt anti-roll technology, the RS 6 is able to conceal its considerable bulk well. That’s no small feat when this wagon weighs a not-insubstantial 4,982 pounds.
That road-hugging weight demands a serious set of stoppers to haul it down from warp speed, so massive, 16.5-inch, 10-piston front brakes with steel rotors are standard. Similarly beefy carbon-ceramic brakes are available for an extra $9,000 (or $8,500 if you want black calipers instead of red), and while I would normally advise skipping the carbon brakes on a road car like this, the RS 6’s immense power combined with the hefty curb weight make them seem like a good buy – if not exactly a good value.
The RS 6 offers typical Audi steering, which is to say accurate but numb. At least the ride quality on those 21-inch wheels and summer tires is surprisingly good.
The interior is typically Audi, as well. This means that the materials are of excellent quality and put together beautifully. The ergonomics are phenomenal, with all controls in easy reach of the driver. Seat comfort is exceptional, too. The big sport buckets hug you while managing to promise all-day comfort, and seat heating and cooling are standard, which is great.
Infotainment is another classic Audi stronghold. The RS 6 Avant’s MMI software is sensibly laid out, very nice to look at and extremely responsive to inputs. Of course, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard, and connect wirelessly. My test car’s optional $4,900 Bang & Olufsen stereo is also pretty good, but gets put to shame by the Burmester sound systems offered by Mercedes-Benz and Porsche.
This being the flagship of the A6 line, the RS 6 has plenty of available tech on hand for safety. Unfortunately, even at its six-figure price, a lot of the good stuff is hidden in expensive add-ons, like the $2,250 Driver Assistance Package that gets you adaptive cruise control, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, rear automatic emergency braking and traffic sign recognition. (If you can live with just the rear automatic emergency braking and the blind-spot monitoring, you can buy the $500 Audi Side Assist package instead.) Audi also offers a $2,500 night vision package, but I’ve yet to use one of these systems that actually feels like it provides a real benefit in the real world, so save your money.
The odds are good that if you’re shopping for a very fast station wagon, the Porsche Panamera Turbo S Sport Turismo and Mercedes-AMG E63 are on your list. The Panamera Turbo S starts at $191,850 including destination and offers less room for cargo and people, while the Mercedes wagon will start at $121,100. The Audi RS 6 Avant starts at $122,995, including a $1,095 destination fee, but my fully loaded tester comes in at $154,090.
The RS 6 Avant is an incredible car that seemingly does everything well, but at over $150,000 for a loaded one, it’s not exactly the car that most people buy for schlepping their kids. It’s a niche enthusiast vehicle in a sadly dying form factor that celebrates all the best aspects of a brand known for making fast, practical cars. And for that reason alone, I love it.