One car manufacturer more than any other over the past decade has successfully transferred its latest state-of-the-art racing technology on to the road with a succession of high performance, load-carrying quattro models. This month sees Audi launch the world’s most rapid production saloon as well as a unique estate model in Britain – the Audi RS 6 quattro and RS 6 Avant quattro – offering “super car” rivalling performance and an exceptional, all-encompassing specification for £57,700 OTR and £58,800 OTR respectively.
The German prestige car manufacturer’s 450bhp RS 6 models are the latest in a long and prestigious line of “S” and “RS” derivatives that come bristling with advanced technology honed from Audi’s rich and successful motor sport heritage.
Indeed the very first “S” designated Audi was the S1 Sport quattro, a purpose-built rallycar dating from 1985 but in 1990 the Audi Coupé quattro S2 was conceived as a pure road-going car. The later S2 Avant model heralded the start of Audi offering its discerning, sporting-orientated customers a series of high-performance 5-door estate cars featuring permanent four-wheel-drive quattro transmission.
The Audi S4 was announced in 1991 with saloon and Avant derivatives followed by the S6 three years later while the RS 2 Avant quattro in 1993 filled a segment only previously occupied by out-and-out sportscars.
The RS 2 was the world’s first 5-door estate with “super car” performance – its 315bhp, 2.2-litre engine propelling the stylish machine to 0-62mph in under six seconds and to over 160mph where legally permitted. S6 and S8 saloon models followed plus the S4 saloon and Avant before the arrival of the stunning RS 4 Avant quattro two years ago.
Powered by a specially uprated version of the S4 Avant quattro’s 2.7-litre, twin-turbocharged V6 engine, this incarnation transmitted an astonishing 380bhp via a six-speed manual gearbox to the quattro permanent four-wheel-drive system.
Audi’s most extreme interpretation yet of the high-performance lifestyle estate concept, the RS 6, is unquestionably the world’s most explosive amalgamation of “super car” and estate to date. Featuring a twin-turbocharged V8 engine packed with the very latest in Le Mans race winning technology, the RS 6 Avant is at the pinnacle of Audi’s road car development and is the very latest instalment in Audi’s remarkable high-performance, estate car story.
The RS 6 has entered new realms of ride comfort and handling composure thanks to Dynamic Ride Control. The electronically controlled, mechanical damping system monitors road conditions and cornering forces and continually adjusts the suspension characteristics to maintain exceptional balance in all situations, whilst maintaining a supple ride.
RS Facts at-a-glance:
Audi RS 2 quattro Avant – 1993-5 (182 units sold in UK)
5-door estate, 1595kg; 5-cylinders, 2226cc, 315bhp @ 6500rpm, 4-wheel-drive, 6-speed gearbox; Maximum speed 163mph, 0-62mph 5.8secs; Fuel consumption 25.9mpg.
Audi RS 4 quattro Avant – 2000-1 (450 units sold in UK)
5-door estate, 1620kg; 6-cylinders, 2671cc, 380bhp @ 6100-7000rpm, 4-wheel-drive, 6-speed manual gearbox; Maximum speed 155mph (governed), 0-62mph 4.9secs, 0-124mph 17.0 secs; Fuel consumption 23.5 mpg (overall).
Audi RS 6 quattro Saloon and Avant – 2002 (anticipated 700 units will be sold in UK)
5-door estate, 1865kg; 8-cylinders, 4172cc, 450bhp @ 6400rpm, 4-wheel-drive, 5-speed tiptronic; Maximum speed 155mph (governed), 0-62mph 4.7secs, 0-124mph 17.8secs; Fuel consumption 19.3mpg (overall).
* Details above apply to Avant