Audi RS6 Avant (C6) | The Brave Pill

Last week's De Tomaso Pantera was a resounding success with the vocal Pill commentariat, with much love for the brawny Italian evident despite its lack of road registration. Finding anything rarer or groovier was going to be a serious ask, so we've opted for something almost completely different. Don't worry, it still requires a serious amount of trouser clunkage from any potential buyers: a tuned Audi RS6.

As Pill has already argued out it won't be long before the very existence of cars like the C6 RS6 will be so unlikely to turn them as exotic as the De Tomaso. It comes from the period when German manufacturers all seemed determined to run into a stationery shop and unzip their corporate trousers in the ruler section, upsizing both engines and power outputs to crazy levels as they fought for supremacy. BMW led the way with front-mounted V10s, switching the E60 M5 to an deca-pot in 2005. Audi responded first with the naturally-aspirated 5.2-litre V10 in the C6-gen S6 in 2006. Then, two years later, the even more ludicrous twin-turbocharged 5.0-litre version that powers the RS6.

While the S6's sonorous enthusiasm for revs makes it a more unlikely powerplant for such a staid-looking car, the RS6's brutal performance projected it into a different league. The base engine was related to the V10 being used by the Lamborghini Gallardo at the same time, but the Audi's turbocharging meant it had slightly more power and much more torque than the supercar. With 571hp the RS6 was the most powerful road car Audi had produced to that point, a record that only fell when the second-gen R8 V10 Plus was launched.

Yet, ludicrously, there was still considerably more on the table. Even a gentle remap was enough to get the RS6 making 650hp, and our Pill has been given a slightly punchier Stage 2 reworking by Banbury-based MRC, resulting in 735hp and 770lb ft of torque - with dyno sheets supporting those numbers. Given the modest level of visual distinction between the RS6 and a 2.0-litre TDI S-Line of the same age, it has to represent the biggest disparity between mouth and trousers going. You'd struggle to pick a better car to fly under the radar in.

While straight line performance will be hugely amusing, the RS6's behaviour in corners is likely to raise fewer smiles. It comes from the era when RS models were expected to deliver their urge without any kind of drama, adhesion is normally total and without the more amusingly graduated limits of the contemporary M5 - which did come as a Touring estate - or even the 'W211' Mercedes E63 AMG. But while both rear-drivers offered the chance for some throttle-steered amusement, spectacularly so in the M5, neither would stand much of a chance of keeping up with the Audi in slippery conditions.

While the RS6 gets unsurprisingly understeery in tighter stuff - the chunky V10 sits entirely ahead of the front axle line - it is a superb distance-coverer. Big Quattro-driven Audis have always had a remarkable ability to find adhesion in the wet, but the range-topping C6 took this further than almost anything else. On the fresh Bridgestone S001 tyres our Pill is reportedly wearing the RS6 will digest a sodden motorway or Autobahn at huge speed with minimal drama. Seats are supportive and comfortable for continent-crossing stints and the rest of the C6's cabin has aged impressively well too. Granted, it's got buttons instead of touchscreens but even ten-year old Audi MMI is better than some rival's modern systems and the vendor also reports the maps were updated last year.

It won't be cheap to run, of course. The owner reports having seen up to 24mpg when cruising, which must have required spectacular throttle discipline or a tailwind blowing at tornado velocities. When new I took one to Scotland and was modestly impressed to see the trip computer reporting a 22mpg average when I arrived. Brimming the tank confirmed the system was flat-out lying, actual consumption was 17mpg over 400 miles of motorways and A-roads. Under harder use, that figure will soon be passing through comedy and towards outright tragedy. A hard-charging RS6 gets close to turning mpg into gpm.

It will also be expensive to keep this RS6 in the manner to which it seems to have become accustomed. Our Pill seems to have lived life in close proximity to a well-thumbed chequebook, with the seller reporting both a full main dealer history and offering an image of what looks like a solid inch of invoices. The most recent trip to a franchised service bay was made last October, the car getting new breather pipes, rear springs and a gearbox oil change among other things.

When newer our Pill was also subject to warranty work including new turbochargers and what looks like a replacement of the failure-prone oil pump seals which are one of this engine's known weak spots, and which can rack up thousands in labour costs by themselves. But beyond the "they all do that, sir" leaks and the wallet-slapping of everyday maintenance, an RS6 of this vintage is actually reckoned to be a pretty tough beast if kept in fettle.

Of course, any potential buyer will also need to factor in the extra risk that comes from the fact our Pill has been tuned and that extra performance has almost certainly been used and enjoyed; this middle-aged estate is our most powerful Pill to date. But the tuning work doesn't carry any price premium over regular cars so, to employ Pillnomics, that means it's actually better value.

For sensible types the very idea of a chipped car with more than 700hp is an investment as likely to turn bad as secondhand egg salad; for many Pill commentators it might not be brave enough. If you can think of a more discreet way to carry people and stuff enormously quickly we'd love to know what it is.

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Comments (63) Join the discussion on the forum

  • sidewinder500 20 Jul 2019

    This one is brave indeed...

    As much as this would be a giggle or two in a straight line, corners are no fun. My company 3.2 tdi was efficient and classy, apart from constantly failing satnav, but a little aloof and close to ponderousness.

    The RS6 cranks this up to 15, but not in a really good way. Poke (especially tuned) is seemingly unreal, but wears thin after a while and all you are left with is an aging german barge with expected electrical and mechanical issues.
    After all, at more than 10 yrs, these cars tend to fall apart, no matter what.

    Nice, but way too brave and a little anorak for me. Only from far away.

    Edited by sidewinder500 on Saturday 20th July 07:47

  • PSB1967 20 Jul 2019

    I think this is more Niche Pill than Brave Pill. If dropping £19K on an 11 year old car, most would want a German badge. And I doubt there is much else selling at this price with those performance figures and maintenance history. It won't depreciate like a new 'anything boring' either. No more risk than an M car.
    But I wouldn't want an Estate as a weekend car either, that car needs to have Sunday morning appeal,this is too useable. Yet it would cost me £350+ p/m in go-juice and Tax alone and that is sensible PCP money. An amazing car for the right person. Hats off to the current owner and to the next one!

  • XJSJohn 20 Jul 2019

    Seriously cool dog carrier.....

    How well does the drive train handle 700bhp on these (i assume the actual motor is ok as long as its treated to fresh fluids regularly)

    Good way to move the family across continents at Airline speeds but probably makes my Range Rover look frugal on the Motion Lotion.

  • slk 32 20 Jul 2019

    Only an idiot doesn't know the difference between stationery and stationary.

    Any chance PH can get journalists who can spell or employ decent sub editors?

  • Cambs_Stuart 20 Jul 2019

    That's got to be the cheapest way to get 700+bhp?

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