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Twenty years of the Audi RS 6

Let’s wish a big happy birthday to the Audi RS 6, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this month.

Not that you’ll need reminding, but the RS 6 is Audi’s bruising, thunderous, low-slung variant of the regular A6.

It sits in the current line-up as a powerful big brother to the Audi RS 4, and also sandwiched between the RS 5 Sportback and the RS 7 sportback.

What makes the RS 6 so special? Simple - you get almost supercar-like performance in a package that’ll still take the wife, kids and dog on holiday to Cornwall.

Heck, when it comes to estate cars, there’s arguably nothing better anywhere on the market - it’s certainly on a par with the Mercedes-AMG E63 S and a lot more powerful than the BMW M3 Touring.

An Audi spokesperson said:

“Across four generations, the Audi RS 6 has set the tone for high-performance station wagons with impressive performance and outstanding everyday usability. It owes the success of its underlying concept from 2002 to its double-charged engine and all-wheel drive.
The basic concept has been the same across every generation of the RS 6. Again and again, it sets new standards in its competitive environment as well.”

So, let’s take a look at those four generations of Audi RS 6 in a little closer detail.

First generation - the C5

By 2002, Audi had already given the ‘RS’ treatment to the A4. And the A6 was next in line. The engine was adapted, the suspension and transmission tinkered with, and it was given aggressive new skirts, wider sills and a spoiler. At the time, no other Audi had more power - 450 PS and 560 Nm of torque. Acceleration from 0-62 mph took just 4.7 seconds.

And - yes, you might have spotted this from the pics - there was also a Sedan version as well as an ‘Avant’ estate.

Dynamic Ride Control (DRC) suspension was a big deal, and brand new for Audi, controlling the roll and pitch of the RS 6 so that it stayed glued to the road.

Second generation - the C6

Fast forward to 2008, and Audi was hellbent on giving the RS 6 more power. It resulted in a 5.0 litre V10 unit, 580 PS and 650 Nm of torque. At the time, that actually gave it more power than the 560 PS Audi R8 supercar which had been launched a year prior in 2007.

Audi describes the engine in the C6 as a ‘force of nature’, and took its inspiration from Audi’s success on the track.

With the RS 6 ‘Plus’ model, top speed hit an eye-watering 188 mph and it reached 63mph in 4.5 seconds.

Audi also calls the C6 ‘visually subdued’ - but we’re not sure we believe them!#

Third generation - the C7

By 2013, Audi was trying to figure out how to make more power from fewer cylinders in the engine. And so the old V10, twin-turbo engine in the RS 6 was replaced with a 4.0 litre, 8 cylinder unit instead. And that meant crucial reductions in weight could be made.

Hence, more oomph was up for grabs.

It was at this point that the ‘Sedan’ RS 6 was also jettisoned - making it purely an estate from here on in.

Overall, the shift in approach to the engine meant the C7 was down 20 PS on power compared with the C6. But it didn’t matter - it was still the quickest RS 6 yet, accelerating from 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds.

There were other nice new touches, too. Fuel economy was better, air suspension became standard, and it sat lower to the ground.

And, as the years progressed from 2013 onwards, Audi managed to up the power to 605 PS and 750 Nm of torque.

Fourth generation - the C8

The fourth gen RS 6 rolled off the production line in 2019. The engine remained the same as before - a 4.0 litre unit, now with 600 PS and 800 Nm of torque.

But new to the RS 6 came efficiency-boosting mild-hybrid technology.

It means the latest RS 6 can zoom to 62mph from a standstill in 3.6 seconds - which is as quick as a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S.

New all-wheel steering improves stability at high speeds and when manoeuvring at low speeds.

It’s also noticeably wider than previous RS 6 models and boasts stonking 21 inch alloys.

If you’re thinking about leasing an Audi RS 6, have a chat with the expert consultants in our Specialist team.

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Experience didn't start well, I had ordered a car offered as in stock as I was on a tight turn around with my former lease vehicle through another provider being returned. I only found out by chance of logging in that the planned delivery date had been pushed back (which would have potentially meant missing out on a holiday as no vehicle). However once Mark and the team picked up on this they truly went above and beyond to sort it out and ended up getting my vehicle delivered several days earlier than expected. Very impressed and would definitely recommend.
Kate Butler

Tuesday, 02/08/2022