It was with heightened anticipation that I returned home from work experience at my local newspaper on what was an otherwise ordinary day. Waiting for me on our drive was an Audi RS6 Performance fresh from the marque’s press fleet. As I walked down the road towards our house, my pace quickened and the questions I had been pondering since the loan was confirmed over 5 weeks ago flashed through my mind. What does 597 bhp actually feel like? Will it sound as good as I hope? And could it be the most successful attempt yet at creating what is, in my mind, the ultimate “everyday” supercar?
In pearl effect Daytona Grey paint with privacy glass, 21 inch black-gloss alloy wheels and the carbon styling package, the big Audi certainly commands attention. It drew plenty of admirers during my family’s week with the car and not only for the styling. The 4.0 litre, twin-turbo V8 engine starts with a flurry of revs that is sure to make your presence heard even if the brooding looks and aggressive stance somehow go by unnoticed.
The next few days were punctuated by many unnecessary journeys as my dad and I did our best to make the most out of our time with the RS6. After several blasts around local roads, we decided that to further explore the magnitude of the car’s performance and immerse ourselves in the noise of the V8 in “Dynamic” mode, it was necessary to head a little further off the beaten track. So, early on a Bank Holiday morning, we set off on a 260 mile round road trip to two of the most breathtaking roads in Wales.
The first leg of our journey saw us travel from our home in Warwickshire, through Worcestershire and onto the Herefordshire towns of Leominster and Kington, before crossing the border into Wales. This gentle start to the day was made all the more pleasant by the rare sight of sunshine and blue skies during a British summer, but also by the refinement of the Audi when cruising in Auto or Comfort modes. The surprisingly smooth ride for a car with serious sporting credentials and the ease of progress made possible by the 516lb ft of torque available from as little as 1750 rpm could be mistaken for the characteristics of a much less focused driving machine. We even managed MPG in the low to mid 20s thanks to features like cylinder deactivation technology, which shuts down four of the engine’s eight cylinders under very light load to improve efficiency. But delve back into the RS6’s settings and with the touch of a button there is another side to its character ready to be unleashed…
Plant your right foot and what happens next is explosive, shocking and ridiculously good fun. The speed piles on so fast that full throttle moments are few and far between, but even under partial acceleration, the snarling exhaust note and the pops, bangs and crackles that follow it make playing with the loud pedal a constant source of amusement. As my dad said, he didn’t stop grinning while driving the Audi, so much so that by the end of our 7 days with the car his cheeks were beginning to hurt – one of the more unusual aspects of the RS6 ownership experience!
Our first checkpoint on our Welsh road trip was the town of Builth Wells, the base for the Nicky Grist Stages Rally that my dad had recently competed on. Continuing the rally-inspired route, we headed for the Epynt Military Ranges to find one of the smoothest and best-maintained roads I’ve ever seen. The open landscape stretches far into the distance, providing perfect sight-lines, while the long straights and flowing corners could be lifted from a racetrack. Of course, the MOD-owned land has speed limits to respect, sensible given the woolly obstacles roaming freely, but the views, the weather and the quality of the road itself made for a rather special few miles. The drivers of the Lotus Elise and Peugeot 106 Rallye in convoy with us clearly thought so too!
Our next destination was the Black Mountain Pass, a winding stretch of road draped across the west side of the Brecon Beacons National Park. As a pure driving road, it proved too treacherous to really push the RS6 anywhere near its limits, but it’s obvious why the Pass has developed such a tourist appeal (no doubt helped by an appearance on Clarkson-era Top Gear). Climbing higher and higher, it seemed appropriate to simply stop and stare in awe at the panoramic view and glorious scenery surrounding the narrow road cascading down the mountainside below.
When the roads allowed my dad to open up the Audi on the return leg home, what we discovered was a sure-footed, responsive and confidence-inspiring car. However, this was only the tip of the iceberg. The RS6 seemed so capable that I imagine most drivers could easily run out of talent before it does! The absence of any turbo lag was particularly impressive and central to the car’s ability to cover ground rapidly and at ease. At any gear and any speed, the RS6 would surge forwards, while the huge tyres and Quattro four-wheel-drive meant traction was never an issue; the RS6 really does catapult itself out of bends.
After our father and son excursion into Wales, I was left even more enamoured with the RS6’s performance and was genuinely sad to see it burble off down the road in the hands of one of Audi’s drivers at the end of my family’s week with the car. Nevertheless, the memory of being forced back into the leather seats will take some time to fade… not least because my 1.0 litre Nissan Micra has never felt slower!
Audi RS6 Avant Performance
Engine: 4.0 litre, twin-turbo V8
Transmission: 8-speed auto, quattro all-wheel drive
Torque: 553lb ft (with overboost)
0-62mph: 3.7 seconds
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
CO2 : 223g/km
Economy: 29.4mpg (combined)
Price as tested: £99,420