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Audi's RS6 wonder wagon finishes 9th at MOTOR's 2021 PCOTY

By Glenn Butler, 13 Mar 2021 Performance COTY

2021 MOTOR PCOTY 9th place Audi RS6 Avant

Uber wagon shines in the real world, not on track

Before we go forensic on the Audi RS6’s Performance Car of the Year performance, let’s pause and give praise that the SUV invasion hasn’t killed off the fast wagon genre.

As a former owner of a Skoda Octavia RS, I like the option of shuttling my dog at speed. But I suspect even my willing four-legged Sunday-drive companion might find the RS6’s boundless performance beyond the pale. Luckily for her, warp factor 5 isn’t always required.

Although, at PCOTY, going easy is not the done thing. And when you’ve got 441kW of twin-turbocharged V8 up front and quattro all-wheel drive underneath, there’s only one question that needs answering: how fast? In a straight line... plenty fast, as the RS6’s sub-12sec 400m time proves.

That’s quite a trick given the German wagon’s 2150kg, and testament to how 800Nm (from 2000rpm) can challenge the laws of physics. How does it feel? Relentless. In the right gear/revs it’s brutal. 

The same laws of physics refuse to be cowed when it comes to lap times, however, and not even our test car’s optional Dynamic Pack – which swaps out the adjustable air suspension with steel springs and cross-linked dampers and adds all-wheel steer – could keep centrifugal force at bay.

The RS6’s lap time is the third-slowest, but that needs some perspective to truly appreciate. Take the fastest car on track, the AMG GT R Pro. The RS6’s lap-time is seven seconds slower. However, you can buy two RS6s for one GT R Pro and give four adults the ride of their life (plus the dog) instead of one in the AMG.

That’s the thing; it’s a fast wagon, and what it lacks in some areas it makes up for in others. The GT R Pro can never be anything but a track day car or an indulgence, but the RS6 is an everyday car and a very fast track car. Yes, it’s a heavy beast, but everything about the RS6 is supersized to deal with the heft.

Take the 420mm, 10-piston front brakes for example. The RS6 stops hard and fast every time and resists fade stoically despite the forces at play, pulling up from 100km/h in 34.49m. The RS6’s weaknesses are an interesting bag. First, it’s simply not as agile or responsive dynamically as almost all the other cars here, which is why it ranked last for Dynamics with the judges.

It’s that weight again combined with a very long wheelbase that makes the RS6 more sledgehammer than scalpel. The steering is too light and somewhat lifeless, and the steel springs don’t translate well to the road. They’re on the firm side of firm, and lack the compliance to absorb bumps, especially mid-corner nasties that throw the RS6 off its line.

The air suspension we drove back at the launch is a much better all-round solution, bringing compliance and sophistication even on 22-inch liquorice strip Pirelli P Zero tyres. So in the rarefied air of PCOTY, a big wagon like the Audi RS6 is unlikely to win. But in the wider world, its combination of performance and practicality is without peer at the price. And for that we give thanks. – GB

THE NUMBERS

0-100km/h: 3.98 sec
0-400m: 11.94 sec @ 193.67km/h
Lap Time: 1:36.2

 

JUDGE'S RANK

Butler 10th
Every dream garage needs a seriously quick wagon like the RS6

Cordony 8th
An athlete desperate to drop a weight class

Dupriez 7th
Has it all on paper, but the ultimate war wagon strangely falls short of genuine x-factor and cohesiveness

Enright 8th
The fun bus felt out of its comfort zone at PCOTY. Covetable road car but struggled dynamically in this company

Newman 9th
Too big and too remote yet doesn’t really ride. Stick to air springs. Or an RS Q8