Gus, like many of us, is thrilled that the Audi RS6 superwagon is now being sold in America. He would like to buy one, but also like many of us, he is coming up short on the budget by about $100,000. So he is looking for the fastest wagon available for “reasonable” money. What car should he buy?
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Here is the scenario -
Now that the RS6 Avant is finally available in the USA - I want one. But I’ve only got $30k to spend. Help me find the fastest breadvan possible. This car needs to fit a fair bit of crap at times. I want something quick, spacious, at least a tiny little bit reliable...but the last one is negotiable.
I also don’t really want an outback even though that is the “sensible” choice. This car will be street-parked in NYC so that may be a consideration.
Budget: Up to $30,000
Daily Driver: Yes
Location: New York City
Wants: Quick and spacious
Doesn’t want: An Outback
Gus, many of us share your passion for the RS6 Avant. The uberwagon has been a favorite of mine for a while. I had my doubts that Audi would have the courage to sell such a car in the States, and I was happy to be proved wrong. I too would love to have the RS6 in my driveway, and I’m coming up a few bucks short.
As great as the RS6 is there are a few key shortcomings. The obvious one is its bonkers price tag. I recently helped a client acquire one of these wagons, and a fairly loaded example was in the ballpark of $130,000. Most people dropping six-figures or more on a car aren’t really concerned about “value,” but it’s hard to make a “rational” argument for a car like this.
The second problem is, and I’m going to take some heat for this, the RS6 almost too fast. Here is what I mean: When you have a car that is pushing 600 horsepower, it’s difficult to enjoy that level of performance and stay within legal limits. When you drive a car that extreme on normal roadways in a responsible manner you always feel like you are holding it back.
This is why fewer ponies under the hood may actually be more fun. Former Jalopnik editor Mike Ballaban determined the “correct” amount of horsepower. Therefore, you need a wagon with about 300 hp. I present to you this 2016 Volvo V60 T6 R-Design. It has 325 horsepower from a super smooth turbocharged inline-six. The Volvo has some of the most supportive seats you can buy, and it looks the part of a performance wagon. The R-design cars are rare but this example with reasonable miles can be had for around $26,000.
The 1968 to 1972 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser is the greatest wagon of all time. It looks like a sports car, but with two extra doors and a beautiful Vista-Roof skylight. The fact that Oldsmobile offered an awesome wagon like this with a 7.5-liter V8 really does support the widely held view that the late 1960s was the golden era for muscle cars.
The 1969 model you see here hooks that big V8 up to a more modern four-speed 700R4 automatic transmission. The paint job, hood, and rear wing are all custom, meant to give off Hurst Oldsmobile 442 vibes.
The beast is for sale for only $30,000 on Autotrader, so just narrowly in your budget. I say: Drop all that cash, and get ready to do burnouts in the most inefficient, loudest, but most beautiful wagon you’ve ever seen.
I love your taste in quick and spacious Audi wagons. However, there’s another way to get heartrate-increasing performance without parting ways with six figures. Try a motorcycle!
You can get a whole lot of speed for dirt cheap with a motorcycle, but I think I have the right one for you: the Honda Gold Wing.
I can already see people in the comments scratching their heads, but hear me out. Compared with a car, a Gold Wing is more than plenty fast. It’s also really comfortable and is packed with techy features like you would find in a car, so you can eat up so many miles at great speed, if you wish. A Gold Wing has you covered on space, too. A common mod for these motorcycles is a tow hitch. Hitch up a Harbor Freight trailer on back and boom, your motorcycle is almost as practical as a wagon.
And best yet? You can get a Gold Wing brand new for well within budget at a dealership. You have nothing to lose!
OK. If the car you see above, a 1999 Saab 9-3 Viggen, is a jet then the Audi RS6 is a rocket ship. There will be a big delta in performance between the two. But then again, that is the case with a lot of performance cars and the RS6.
So, instead of ludicrous performance that goes with a ludicrous price, why not just go for ludicrous fun in this Saab that’s not too far from you. This 9-3 Viggen is no slouch when it comes to speed, and it comes with torque steer, a whooshing soundtrack and a willing attitude that encourages you to hoon.
We called it the the last great true Saab. Yes, it’s a hatchback, but it can still probably fit a lot of the things you’ll want to haul. We’ll call it a wagon lite. And just look at that color! Those wheels! You’ll even get a Thule rack thrown in, maybe.
The CL page is a little light on details, but from the condition of that exterior, the low miles and that vanity plate, it’s likely that whoever owns this thunderbolt loved the car and cared for it. Sure, it’s a little pricey at nearly half your budget, but it’s still just half your budget. Pocket the savings, but don’t spend them just yet. You might have some repairs in the near future.
Still, with a 9-3 Viggen, not only will you get one of the coolest, fastest Saabs ever made, you’ll also get to brag your car is born from, and named after, a fighter jet. No Audi RS6 can take that away.
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