Performance Car of the Year 2004 - 3rd place - Audi RS6 Avant: classic MOTOR

Massive haul of points propped Audi's über-wagon up onto the podium

Performance Car of the Year 2004 3rd place Audi RS6 Avant

Right from the outset, the Audi RS6 Avant set the bar pretty high. With 331kW from its twin-turbo V8, the RS6 ranks equal fourth with the Cayenne in the power stakes. It beat all comers to 100km/h in a blistering 4.9sec and maintained the lead at the 400m mark.

This feature was originally published in MOTOR’s April 2004 issue

As the one kay marker flashed by, the RS 6 conceded the number one spot to the fast-finishing Lambo but still posted a 23.96sec time. On the top speed strip, the big forced-fed V8 belted the Audi to 266km/h before nudging the super-soft limiter just shy of an indicated 280 klicks. Good enough for fifth fastest on the day.

We never have high hopes for Audis at Winton, where historically they have been uninvolving understeerers on the tight and technical 3km track. But here’s an Audi with the power to drive out of any turn-in push.

The brakes held up under the heat of battle, only going a bit long at day’s end. And the five-speed auto ’box is a perfect match for the massive torque wave. It felt just as quick around Winton left in D as flipping through the five ratios using the steering wheel-mounted paddles.

Its 1:42.09 was good enough for a distant third on the day but is a dead heat with last year’s Boxster S. But the best bit of the Audi’s Winton performance? Standing on the pit wall as the twin-turbo über-wagon thundered past. Grab the PCOTY DVD in a few weeks and hear for yourself.

When the judges tallied their bananas, the RS 6 sat atop the league table with a firm grasp on the minor premiership and an eye on the championship. But when the finals began, not a single judge voted for the RS 6 in first or second place, and three completely ignored it for third as well. Despite its crushing performance and the ease of extracting said performance, the RS 6 ultimately failed to dazzle like the CSL or Gallardo.

There was an argument that if you could have but one car from this year’s field, the RS 6 would make a very fine compromise between the mundane and the absurd. But as Taylor (M) said, you wouldn’t want your grandma to be able to pedal as quickly as you. And that was the final rub; both the CSL and Gallardo rewarded effort and skill, where the RS 6 rewarded you if you just showed up. We demand more of our Performance Car of the Year, and we kind of like it when the car demands a bit back.

I’m sure there’s an Audi anorak sitting out there spitting chips right now, saying that had it been raining the quattro RS 6 would have romped away while the rest of the PCOTY field was being extracted from the scrub. Ah, no. You see, at the close of play on the hillclimb day, the heavens opened and we covered 60- odd kays back to camp over wet and twisting tarmac.

The rear-biased all-paw Lambo was still the fastest thing on the road and the near-slick-shod CSL wasn’t the nightmare its driver feared. Only the genuinely frightening CSV, playful Falcon GT and the front-drive Alfa and Astra had trouble with powerdown.

The four third-place votes were enough to secure bronze, but it took two very special cars to relegate the RS 6 to the last step on the podium. 

Braking Point

With Lamborghini owned by Audi, does it surprise you that the thunder-wagon RS 6 and Lamborghini Gallardo use exactly the same size brakes front and rear? That’s right: 365mm front rotors and only marginally smaller 335mm discs down back. The only difference is that the Gallardo gets cross-drilled rotors, and they’re 5mm thicker.

The front calipers are also similar, each using massive eight-piston jobbies. Only when it comes to the rear calipers do things finally differ; the RS 6 makes do with single-piston calipers and the Lambo’s rear uses the the four piston caliper from the front of its big brother.

PCOTY 2004 Results - 3rd

0-100km/h: 4.92sec
0-400m: 13.08sec @ 172.3km/h
0-1000m: 23.96sec @ 224.9km/h
Top Speed: 266km/h
Winton Lap Time: 1min 42.09sec

Judges' Scores

Performance (/20) 19 20 18 19 18 18 19
Dynamics (/20) 17 17 18 19 16 14 17
Driveability (/20) 19 20 20 18 19 20 19
Design & Function (/10) 9 9 9 9 8 10 9
Value (/10) 7 6 9 7 8 5 9
Total (/80) 71 72 74 72 69 67 73

Total Score: 498/560
Votes: 4 x 3rd


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