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- Highs Twin-turbo V-8 makes deliciously vicious sounds, more enthralling to drive than its numbers suggest, dramatic appearance.
- Lows Low fuel-economy ratings, lofty price tag, 190-mph top speed requires pricey carbon-ceramic brakes.
- Verdict The macho-looking RS6 Avant is the raucous-sounding, smile-inducing wagon that America was missing.
America is the land of excess, except when it comes to station wagons, but the 2021 Audi RS6 Avant is a brutally powerful and bold-looking example of this rare breed. Based on the excellent Audi A6 Allroad wagon, the hot-rod version wears RS-specific bodywork and gets exclusive go-fast goodies. At its heart is a 591-hp twin-turbo V-8 that produces raucous noises and pairs with a paddle-shifted automatic transmission as well as a dynamic version of Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system. This terrific trio helps launch the Avant to 60 mph in just 3.1 seconds, and the quickest version tops out at 190 mph. While the wagon's interior is as stylish as it is spacious, and there's a surplus of luxury features, the real magic of the longroof RS6 is how entertaining it is to drive. Too bad it costs more than most of us can afford, which puts it in the same company as high-dollar, high-powered alternatives such as the Mercedes-AMG E63 S wagon and the mighty Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo. Still, the 2021 RS6 Avant is one helluva family hauler.
What's New for 2021?
When we heard that Audi would bring its new RS6 Avant to America for the 2021 model year, we were understandably excited. Because there's a serious lack of station wagons in the States, especially one with the high-performance attributes of the RS6. Our first impressions of the super wagon proved that it was worth the wait.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
There's only one model to choose from, but there's a host of fancy standard features and desirable options. Most paint colors cost extra, so we'd have ours sprayed in the pretty Navarra Blue metallic. We'd also select the Black Optic package that gives the wagon an even more sinister look and adds snazzier 22-inch wheels on summer performance tires. Those who want their Avant to reach 190 mph will have to shell out for the expensive carbon-ceramic front and rear brakes, but we'd save our money and then some for the Individual Contour Seating and Executive packages. Together they cover the cabin in extra leather, add massage functions to the front seats and heat for the rears, bring a head-up display, and add power soft-closing doors. Of course, our wagon needs the optional sport exhaust system to best voice its intoxicating engine sounds.
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Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Audi endows the RS6 Avant with a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8, which generates 591 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque. The powerplant combines with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system that's found on other Audi products, such as the A8 luxury sedan and the Q8 crossover. The RS6 Avant feeds its standard Quattro all-wheel drive through an eight-speed automatic transmission. The combination helped rocket our 5031-pound test car to 60 mph in 3.1 seconds and complete the quarter-mile in 11.5 ticks at 120 mph. But those numbers don't accurately demonstrate the wagon's glorious ability to increase our heart rates and tingle our ear drums with its breakneck acceleration and badass soundtrack. Rolling on a set of 22-inch wheels with summer performance rubber and buoyed by a sport-tuned air suspension with adaptive dampers, our Tango Red RS6 Avant was able to deliver a relaxed or rollicking ride depending on the selected drive mode. The longroof Audi also felt extremely agile thanks to its four-wheel steering and torque-vectoring rear differential. Ours stopped from 70 mph in a tidy 160 feet, but that was with the standard brakes. A set of front and rear carbon-ceramic stoppers are available for a sizable sum, but the upgrade also unlocks a higher top speed of 190 mph.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The EPA estimates the 2021 RS6 Avant will earn 15 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway. Compare that with the 16-mpg city and 23 highway ratings for the 2020 E63 S wagon and the 18-mpg city and 23 highway ratings for the 2020 Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo. Once we can run the RS6 Avant on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy route, which is part of our extensive testing regimen, we can evaluate its real-world mpg.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Inside, the RS6 Avant showcases Audi's sophisticated interior design and cutting-edge technology. The driver faces a 12.3-inch fully digital gauge cluster, and the snazzy dashboard features a pair of large touchscreens between the front passengers. The rest of the cabin is covered in leather and accentuated with racy materials. The RS6 Avant also has a roster of upscale standard features that include heated and ventilated front seats, four-zone climate control, a panoramic sunroof, and wireless charging. The interior can be upgraded with a head-up display, massaging front seats, richer leather, and heated rear seats. The wagon has 30 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats, too. A power rear liftgate is standard while a motion-activated one is optional.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The Audi's infotainment system is centralized in a 10.1-inch touchscreen that's integrated into the middle of the dash. It houses standard features such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a Bang & Olufsen stereo, built-in navigation, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. Below the upper display is an 8.6-inch touchscreen that contains settings for the climate controls as well as other vehicle functions. While both screens have high-resolution menus with large icons that are easy to activate via touch inputs, they can be distracting to the driver, especially the lower one. We prefer the scroll knob that used to accompany Audi's infotainment systems.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The 2021 RS6 Avant hasn't been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The Audi offers some standard driver-assistance technology, with adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist both available. Key safety features include:
- Standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
- Available night vision with large animal and pedestrian detection
- Available blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Audi's limited and powertrain warranty align with the plans offered by Mercedes and Porsche.
- Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance
2021 Audi RS6 Avant
front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon
PRICE AS TESTED
$119,840 (base price: $110,045)
twin-turbocharged and intercooled V-8, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
244 in3, 3996 cm3
591 hp @ 6250 rpm
590 lb-ft @ 2050 rpm
Suspension (F/R): multilink/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 16.5-in vented, cross-drilled disc/14.6-in vented, cross-drilled disc
Tires: Pirelli P Zero PZ4, 285/30ZR-22 (101Y) AO
Wheelbase: 115.4 in
Length: 196.7 in
Width: 76.8 in
Height: 58.6 in
Passenger volume: 101 ft3
Cargo volume: 30 ft3
Curb weight: 5031 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 3.1 sec
100 mph: 7.8 sec
130 mph: 13.6 sec
150 mph: 19.6 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 4.4 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 2.6 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 3.1 sec
1/4 mile: 11.5 sec @ 120 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 156 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 160 ft
Braking, 100–0 mph: 318 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.94 g
Standing-start accel times omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 17/15/22 mpg