As a formerly shy child, I don’t blame my neighbor’s daughter for not having spoken to me in the five years that we have lived in the same house. She usually hides behind her mother when we exchange courtesies and then waves on the way out.

That means until last week. I was behind the wheel of the Audi RS 6 Avant 2021 and we overtook each other when I pulled into the communal garage under our building. The two windows of her Subaru Outback were shut down at the same time. Her mother went first and said “That thing is …” before falling silent with a nod. Then the child leaned forward from the booster seat, gave me a thumbs up and said “great car”.

She doesn’t lie.

2021 Audi RS 6 Avant

The throaty exhaust sound and the pretty looks of the car were a worthy wrecking ball to break the wall of silence between us. Obviously, the RS 6 Avant is not just an enthusiast’s dream, it appeals to all age groups. It’s a special car, part of a dying breed of performance vehicles wrapped in excess V-8s that don’t apologize for their poor fuel economy. The RS 6 gets 17 combined mpg – worse if you let it off the leash frequently like I did.

Getting into the RS 6 Avant feels familiar. I tested the 2021 RS 7 earlier this year, and the two cars are twins that differ in appearance. The DNA is the same; the drive train, the suspension and the interior remain constant, only with a slightly different body on top. The RS 6 Avant is 0.5 inches shorter in overall length but 2.5 inches higher in height and only 22 pounds heavier at a curb weight of 4,960 pounds. Audi didn’t provide a direct measurement of the RS 6 Avant’s cargo space, but it said it should be exactly what you get in the A6 Allroad. If that’s the case, it also has slightly more cargo space than the RS 7, at 30.0 cubic feet versus 24.6 cubic feet.

As you’d expect, the two feel almost the same behind the wheel. I spent much of my week driving to see exactly what the differences were and testing them on identical roads and with identical cargo (both easily swallow a pair of golf club bags). But instead of finding a difference in the vehicles, I found a difference in myself. I liked Audi’s RS formula better on the second run.

2021 Audi RS 6 Avant

2021 Audi RS 6 Avant

The best feature of the RS 6 Avant is still its engine, a fire-breathing 4.0-liter V8 with twin turbocharging that produces 591 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque in the RS 6 (equivalent to the output of the RS 7). That is enough power to bring the RS 6 Avant from 0 to 100 km / h and to a top speed of 300 km / h in just 3.5 seconds (without the optional carbon-ceramic brakes on my test vehicle, it is a measly 255 km / h limited).

It still doesn’t feel quite as snappy off-the-line as I’d like, there is an air of hesitation when you hit the throttle. But as soon as it comes out of first gear, the car pulls and continues to pull well over 80 mph. The RS 6 Avant doesn’t really sit on its rear wheels when accelerating, not even when accelerating heavily, so it feels like you’re not moving too fast because the whole process is so little drama. But a quick look at the head-up display shows the numbers that are flying by and the soundtrack of the RS 6 Avant of quiet rumble and splash rises quickly.

After driving the RS 7, I wrote: “As great as the performance of the RS 7 is, its handling is not in the same league. It’s not sloppy, it’s just hard. ”I still think this is true; the power is the star here. But what I came to appreciate more was the excellent balance of the RS 6 Avant, despite its weight.

2021 Audi RS 6 Avant

2021 Audi RS 6 Avant

2021 Audi RS 6 Avant

2021 Audi RS 6 Avant

The RS button on the steering wheel switches between the RS1 and RS2 driving modes, which can be adjusted via the middle screen. On the RS2, I set the stability control to “Sport”, which loosens the car a little before the nannies intervene, which I unfortunately couldn’t test safely on public roads. There’s so much grip that getting the RS 6 Avant out of the car would take some real negligence, and I didn’t want to get involved in that kind of driving on the mountain roads of the Angeles National Forest, where mistakes can be catastrophic.

This balance creates trust. I took every corner with a little more vigor, and the RS 6 Avant’s exhaust snorted appealingly as I hit the gas again at every vertex. With all the weight, the tires start to protest if you drive too much and the RS 6 Avant tends to understeer.

Learning this tendency helped me find the best way to drive the RS 6 Avant: brake early, apex late to get more run, and get into power as quickly as possible. The car shines the most here. The AWD system is so adept at getting power to the right place at the right moment that you can accelerate earlier than you think. You can’t drive a rear-wheel drive vehicle like this, otherwise it will spin. But here it’s practically point-and-squeeze at the corner exits. With all that raw power, it’s an extremely satisfying feeling.

The steering could be better. It’s very accurate, but it doesn’t offer the amount of feedback and responsiveness I would want in the middle. However, this car is so balanced that despite this vagueness, it still feels pretty planted and stable. I would also like to have a more aggressive gear setting that will keep the gears longer, although this can be achieved with the paddle shifters. The shift logic of the transmission feels a hair behind Porsche’s PDK and the BMW 8-speed automatic, but these two set the bar extremely high.

2021 Audi RS 6 Avant

2021 Audi RS 6 Avant

2021 Audi RS 6 Avant

2021 Audi RS 6 Avant

2021 Audi RS 6 Avant

2021 Audi RS 6 Avant

2021 Audi RS 6 Avant

2021 Audi RS 6 Avant

If you don’t drive the RS 6 Avant hard, it’s still good. The softer suspension settings make for a more forgiving ride around town. The interior offers first-class luxury with four extremely comfortable seats (don’t sleep on the rear buckets) and the car-sized cargo space that swallows the load with ease. Drivers are well advised to bring a microfiber cloth to wipe the multimedia and air conditioning screens. These smooth surfaces are a crime scene investigator’s dream as they hold all fingerprints for a long time.

2021 Audi RS 6 Avant

2021 Audi RS 6 Avant

That level of luxury and performance comes at a corresponding price. The RS 6 Avant starts at $ 110,045 (including destination) and undercuts the RS 7 by $ 5,000. My test vehicle added the options, the highlights of which are the excellent carbon-ceramic brakes ($ 9,000), a carbon fiber package ($ 6,350) that also includes 22-inch wheels with Pirelli P Zero summer tires, and a sports exhaust ($ 1000). Interestingly, adaptive cruise control and active lane control aren’t standard and need to be added as part of a $ 2,250 safety package. All in all, my test vehicle cost a cool $ 131,645, which puts it in direct confrontation with the BMW M5, even though it’s a bit cheaper than the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT 63 4-door coupe.

The choice between RS 6 Avant and RS 7 is impossible in some respects due to their similarities and almost identical properties. If I had to choose one, I would take the RS 6 Avant because I like its brutal, yet classic style a little more – like Arnold Schwarzenegger in a tuxedo. Still, I would be just as happy in an RS 7.

Even when the sun goes down on V-8 powered performance cars, the upcoming performance variant of the RS 6 Avant will act as a bridge to the future. It will add a plug-in hybrid system to the car, similar to the one in the Porsche Panamera, if the rumors are to be believed. This system will improve both performance and efficiency, and hopefully add some of the off-the-line burst the car needs to feel more alive. I can’t wait to show my neighbors.

Audi has provided the Motor Authority with a loaner RS ​​6 Avant to bring you this report firsthand

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