WHEN RICKY Martin tangoed out of the closet not many were surprised by the announcement.
And we’ve had the same reaction to Audi’s new name for the RS6 Avant… Performance. Because as far as obvious statements go, 445kW/750Nm hidden under the bonnet of a family-hauling wagon certainly warrants the moniker.
Rather, the label change is the marketing department’s way of signalling the Audi RS6 Avant’s clock had struck time for a mid-cycle update. So with a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 at its disposal Audi’s led with an upgrade to its engine, unlocking more power and adding an overboost function to its aresenal.
Along with an extra 33kW, the RS6 now boasts 750Nm – fairly Teutonic indeed. Some fiddling with the engine’s management system to raise the rev ceiling by 200rpm and more boost is to thank for the extra urge. Audi isn’t specific about how long the new 50Nm hangs around for, but it’s only available in ‘Dynamic’ mode.
Elsewhere, an RS sports exhaust system’s bolted to the engine, ‘titanium look’ styling bits replace aluminium and the massive 21-inchers lined in 285mm rubber welcome new designs.
Just like the ‘old’ RS6, plonking into the interior is like stepping into a designer showroom. There’s swathes of carbon fibre, while the standard RS Design package drapes the front sport seats in Alcantara and leather.
And just like the old RS6, nothing will launch you, a surfboard, and the dog to 100km/h so fast. Seriously. Audi claims a 0.2sec improvement to 100km/h, and since we’ve matched the 3.9sec claim in the old car there’s no doubting its new acceleration.
It’s simply a tomahawk missile with seatbelts. Sure, it can’t escape its 1950kg mass in corners and you do a lot of waiting to turn the thing, but once you tickle the throttle its active rear diff shoots power wide, and it then goes to devouring each of its eight cogs with a thunderous burp on every upshift.
Track goers would be wise to tick the $20,940 ceramic brakes (we were glad to have them at Phillip Island), and we suspect the $5K Dynamic Package’s steel springs and linked-dampers are key to its agility – as we didn’t drive a car without them.
Price-wise the Performance has added $16,290, which is good value when you consider the old RS Design package was $13,900; you’re then getting 33kW/50Nm and a crackling exhaust for about $2K.
With Benz’s E63 Estate missing, it leaves BMW’s X5M as its closest foe. And while the RS6’s growing price doesn’t help, it’s still a brilliant reason why hot SUVs should never have existed at all. Now, if only Audi could make that more obvious.
4.5 OUT OF 5 STARS
LIKE: Huge speed; menacing looks; thunderous note
DISLIKE: Pricey options; rather large heft
Engine: 3993cc V8, DOHC, 32v, twin-turbo
Power: 445kW @ 6800rpm
Torque: 700Nm @ 1750rpm
0-100km/h: 3.7sec (claimed)