A decade ago, Audi’s approach to building a space shuttle was to drop the V10 engine from the Lamborghini Gallardo supercar into an A6 station wagon, add twin turbochargers and other modifications and badge it as an RS6 Avant.
The result was 427kW of power (and 650Nm of torque) from 5.0-litres – more than the Gallardo, any then-current Porsche and all Ferraris at the time except the 599 GTB Fiorano. Nought to 100km/h flashed by in 4.6 seconds.
These days, Audi has downsized. The RS6 Avant Performance has two less cylinders, yet boasts 18 more kW, 100 more Nm (on overboost), weighs 75kg less and soars to 100km/h nearly a second quicker. It is also substantially more fuel and emissions efficient (9.7 litres/100km V 14.0; 226g/km of CO2 V 339). Call it “power without the gory”.
That said, our week with the RS6 returned 16.7 litres/100km, well above the aforementioned ADR combined cycle fuel number, but nowhere as chronic as its V10 predecessor which could binge at around 20 litres/100km.
Assisting the current RS6’s cause is an eight-speed tiptronic auto with dynamic shift and sport program, instead of the old six-speed unit. Not only does it extract better efficiencies, but its lightning-quick, paddle-generated shifts bring out the ballistic best in the twin-turbo V8. The thrust fairly pins you back in the leather-appointed sports seat as the traction control and Audi’s acclaimed quattro all-wheel-drive puts all that power and torque to the ground emphatically.
What goes up must come down, and the RS6 boasts ventilated brakes front and rear with the necessary stopping power. For those considering track day play, optional carbon ceramic brakes can be had with the tick of a $20,490 option box.
Cosmetically, the RS6 Performance differs from its latest (2014-16) predecessor by way of titanium-look finishes to the exterior and the 21-inch alloys. Alcantra and Valcona leather trim with blue honeycomb stitching and a new blue twill inlay to the carbon fibre highlight the interior.
For some $250,000, you also expect plenty of kit and the RS6 doesn’t disappoint. Standard equipment includes RS adaptive air suspension, digital TV tuner. DAB+ digital radio, head-up display, 360-degree reversing camera with sensors, panoramic glass sunroof, powered tailgate Matrix LED headlights.
So, it’s a lot of car – for a lot of money. But, as the world’s fastest wagon, one better suited to the liberal speed tolerances of its home country’s autobahns.