UPDATE - 29.03.2019
Like your family cars of the muscular, burbly and very mean kind? You’ll be wanting to watch our new video footage of Audi’s next-gen RS6 Avant testing at its favourite venue. The development car is being put through its paces on the Green Hell in the run up to its launch, with the V8-powered – yep, there’s no mistaking the source of that noise – German doing what its forebears did, defying the laws of nature, as effectively as ever.
The new Audi Sport could be on for a slight reduction in mass, which might help with all the anti-physics stuff, thanks to the use of the MLB Evo platform. Although you’re unlikely to hear anyone this side of a ship engineer call the RS6 light. Certainly the test car ducks and dives along the Nurburgring like a circa 1,900kg car, with what appears to be some natural (and expected) understeer, that’s swiftly followed by grip and a lot more grip. Note the way those four wheels deploy an anticipated 650hp into the asphalt. Sweat is never broken.
The car you see here looks like the first of two versions due in Audi’s next RS6 line-up. This pure combustion model – which could be the very last of its kind – will be followed by a hybrid version, the details of which we go into more detail in below. Rest assured that our spy videographers will be on hand to capture the first footage of that anticipated 700hp model when it hits the track laden with an electric motor and batteries, something we’re expecting all following hot Audi wagons to receive in the next decade…
ORIGINAL STORY - 26.03.2019
Could we be on the cusp of a new engine power war between the Audi RS6, BMW M5 and Mercedes-AMG E63? We are, after all, in an era when the last pure combustion-powered models of this type exist, all producing around 600hp from turbocharging. To achieve more in the future while also conforming to ever-tightening emissions limits, hybrid power is somewhat inevitable, meaning today’s non-electrified cars might be the last of the ‘old school’. And if rumours of the next Audi RS6 are anything to go by, it could be the most potent of them all.
Seen here in Avant form - what else? - at the Nurburgring, it’s due with a further developed version of the current twin-blower 4.0-litre V8 that should push it comfortably over the 600hp mark, which previously only the Performance variant was capable of. This would bring the RS6 right up to the sharp end of the class, with some speculators suggesting it'll breeze past the AMG E63 S’s 612hp and BMW M5’s 625hp with a Lamborghini Urus-matching 650hp. That's quite a way to close off an era of pure combustion engined Audi Sport A6s.
Things could get hotter still with this generation, because the RS6 line-up looks set to gain its first hybrid variant, mating that V8 to an electric motor with an output edging towards 700hp the expected result. The plug-in setup will be shared with the RS7 and has been powering Porsche's Panamera Turbo S E Hybrid to 680hp for a couple of years, where it also enables 31 miles of electric range. Though those in search of a purer package will likely still find the inevitably lighter non-hybrid RS6 the more naturally sporting option, at least as far as handling is concerned.
It looks enormous, doesn’t it? If the pictures are anything to go by, the next RS6 Avant’s use of a 12mm longer A6 estate body and frankly massive wheels should also help it dwarf all other wagons in a car park. The growth spurt for the regular car was driven by the desire to create a roomier cabin, but the knock-on effects of this bigger MLB Evo skeleton are an extended wheelbase and wider tracks. In the RS6, that should provide more grip and traction, although the old car was already famed for its unbreakable bond with the tarmac.
That did, admittedly leave the RS6 unable to challenge the more mobile E63 for driver involvement. But the car’s physics-defying turn of pace was often too much of a distraction for a driver giddy on adrenaline to care. Such a trait has been a consistent one among hot Audis of late, so expect more of the same in the next RS6, albeit to a previously unfathomable degree. And judging by the largely finished look of the RS6 Avant test car, we’re not long from finding out first hand just how high the bar has been pushed as well. Roll on summertime…