PH Blog: Audi was right


Now, in the interests of full disclosure I should point out that this blog was written off the back of an extravagant 'editors' lunch' hosted by ... Audi. And did occur to me as I was heading home. Now, I'm sure there's no connection. But, come to think of it, that last extra dessert did taste a bit funny. And now I see four rings every time I blink. No, I'm fine.

A twin-turbo V8, two-pedal gearbox...
A twin-turbo V8, two-pedal gearbox...
Anyway, it's easy to knock Audi. We've been known to. Maybe it's the cookie cutter styling and deep-seated conservatism. Those blazing DRLs inches off your bumper. Or occasional glimpses of corporate arrogance, such as that expressed by boss Rupert Stadler when the matter of the global recession was raised and he said "we discussed it and decided not to participate." That'll be that famous German humour in action then. I'm sure the rest of the industry was wetting itself after that little quip.

But with all the recent developments in German heavy metal - I'm talking 500hp-plus V8-saloons/estates/halfbreeds here, not Rammstein and The Scorpions - it got me thinking that, dammit, Audi had the formula all the big players now adhere to nailed back in 2002. Which would be a (relatively) downsized twin-turbo V8, discreet 'premium muscle car' looks, four-wheel drive, a self-shifting transmission and lots of chassis trickery like electronically adjustable dampers. Oh, and a few token bits of carbon on the dash. Yep, the original RS6 set the template, over a decade before the rest caught up.

...a twin-turbo V8 with two-pedal gearbox...
...a twin-turbo V8 with two-pedal gearbox...
In that time BMW M has all-but abandoned its enthusiast focused manual gearboxes naturally aspirated engines and, though not yet four-wheel drive, the M5, 6 and Gran Coupe all pretty much follow the same path. Already familiar with four-wheel driven forced induction Porsche knew which side its stollen was buttered when it came up with the Panamera Turbo. And even AMG, last bastion of no replacement for displacement and tyre-smokin' RWD has downsized, by its standards, to 5.5 litres and grafted two turbos and, in some markets, four-wheel drive to its revised E63. That this particular car has gone from a 6.2-litre, high-revving naturally aspirated V8 and rear-wheel drive to forced induction and four-wheel drive, within its lifespan, shows how rapidly this new formula has become the default. In this company, only Jaguar's XFR dares to do it even a bit differently, and even then all-wheel drive is coming to that range too.

...and just for good measure. You get the idea.
...and just for good measure. You get the idea.
What was that about Vorsprung Durch Smugness? Fair play, though - to nail it a decade ahead of the rest of the competition is pretty impressive. And, no, this doesn't entirely explain why the RS4 returned with a high-revving V8, other than to perhaps rub rivals' noses in it and prove that Quattro could do that and hit emissions targets too. Just for the hell of it.

The toss can - and will, I'm sure - be argued as to whether this template is in fact the 'better' solution for the likes of us and, traditionalists that we are, it's hard not to feel a little sorry that the very obvious and different identities we all enjoyed in our respective Ms, AMGs and RSes has been homogenised in the name of emissions regulations, new market trends and commercial necessity.

Saying that, the original RS6 was a pretty blinding piece of kit and in Plus form with 480hp from its Cosworth-built 4.2 V8, 0-62 in 4.6 seconds and a spectacular donner-und-blitzen exhaust note (who says turbo V8s need artificial aural enhancement?) remains on the money. Having had a taste of Audi UK's historic RS6 Plus on a photo shoot a while back I'm minded to head off into the classifieds for a bit of tyre kicking (sub-£10K, since you're asking). And brace myself for the 'what took you so long' themed presentation from Stadler at the next motor show I attend. Which could apply personally as equally as it could the industry at large.

Dan

 

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  • urquattroGus 02 Feb 2013

    Clivey said:
    Interesting. Do you think there comes a point where a car like the RS6 becomes too large / heavy to be properly sporty (as opposed to simply good in a straight line)?
    Yes, but I'm sure there are exceptions. C5 avant 1865KG and C6 2025 KG (saloon or avant?) . These weights are quite optimistic I think, possibly more like dry weight.

    Look what happened when MRC weighed a suposedly lighter saloon with fuel(2135 KG). http://audisrs.com/viewtopic.php?p=155742

    Drivers republic did a test (see the you tube video) where a standard C63 estate easily embarrased a RS6 avant in a straight line.

    I think the V10 was more of a tick box, we need a V10 marketing thing, than a pure engineering reason. A cool one nonetheless. Imagine if they had stuck to a TT V8, less weight and over 500 bhp for the C6, personally I think it would have been a better car (yes but not as tuneable I concede...)

  • Clivey 02 Feb 2013

    urquattroGus said:
    C6 was a big dissapointment when dad and I test drove it. Not quicker than the c5 untill 70mph ( granted when compareing to the c5 with mtm remap to 500bhp) and most of all, just too heavy! Feels every bit if its bulk and squirrels around like hell under braking. This was the lighter saloon version we tested too. A bit dissapionted vby the sound too.

    Dont doubt they must fly when tuned, but personally prefer the original. The scores of used and ex demo c6's at audi dealers seemed to back this up, probably made worse by the fact they wanted 80k for some of them.

    Pleased to see the new one has returned to tt v8, looks promising.
    Interesting. Do you think there comes a point where a car like the RS6 becomes too large / heavy to be properly sporty (as opposed to simply good in a straight line)?

  • urquattroGus 02 Feb 2013

    C6 was a big dissapointment when dad and I test drove it. Not quicker than the c5 untill 70mph ( granted when compareing to the c5 with mtm remap to 500bhp) and most of all, just too heavy! Feels every bit if its bulk and squirrels around like hell under braking. This was the lighter saloon version we tested too. A bit dissapionted vby the sound too.

    Dont doubt they must fly when tuned, but personally prefer the original. The scores of used and ex demo c6's at audi dealers seemed to back this up, probably made worse by the fact they wanted 80k for some of them.

    Pleased to see the new one has returned to tt v8, looks promising.

  • Clivey 01 Feb 2013

    Is there anyone here that's owned both generations that can comment on the difference in the handling between the two?

    It would seem - as far as I can tell from others' comments - that the C6 has a more neutral / less understeery setup.

  • urquattroGus 01 Feb 2013

    I drive my dads C5 RS6 from time to time still, it's been relegated to the dog and bike carrier.

    He has had a C63 Estate as daily for the past 2-3 years, but hasnt been wanted to sell the rs6 because it has more load carrying ability and 4WD for the winder months. Not worth so much now either...

    It has Bilsteins fitted in place of the orig DRC, and I would say that although it's a blunt instrument, you can hustle it along pretty well, it grips that's for sure.

    However, dad describes the handling as "crap" and comments how crisp the merc is in comparison.

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