9 thoughts about the Audi RS 6 Avant (though the main one is, it's awesome)

“What would you buy with $AllTheMoney?”

To answer that delightful thought exercise I’m sure we’ve all done, my shortlist of nominees would without question include the 2024 Audi RS 6 Avant. I had the good fortune to drive one of my favorite cars on the first-drive launch of its substantive midcycle update, and then again more recently at home in Agoura Hills, California. Both times, this heroic car just ended up feeling like “my car,” as if Audi weaseled its way into my brain and AI’d what I’d want my car to look, drive and function like.

OK, so maybe I wouldn’t get the black-out badges and it would definitely be green. Oh, and there are one or two other niggles I’ll get to below in my handful of thoughts. Because not surprisingly, I have plenty for this masterpiece.

Audi RS6 Avant gigantic wheel Audi RS6 Avant brakes

The wheels are not appropriate for this country

I actually picked up the RS 6 Avant at LAX after a trip to Germany to drive the new Panamera E-Hybrid and preview the new 911 GTS T-Hybrid. More to the point, I had last driven on German roads. They are paved rather well, you might have heard. There, my test car’s $3,750 22-inch wheel option would work just fine. On smooth pavement, the adaptive air suspension does wonders to provide a shockingly comfortable ride.

Different story in California. That thin spackle of rubber upon comically large (and intricately detailed) wheels just isn’t enough to stave off impact harshness over expansion joints, imperfectly joined concrete, broken asphalt and just bumps in general. It really hates road reflectors. The adaptive air suspension still manages to make it livable, but there’s no way I’d specify the big dubs. Stick with the standard 21s. It’s not like they’re doughnuts.

Note that you can get an optional “RS sport suspension plus with Dynamic Ride Control” to further improve the handling, but I sampled it on the first drive launch, and the ride gets worse. Skip it.

Audi RS6 Avant Audi RS6 Avant drive mode individual setting 2

This car sounds amazing

See those big fat pipes out the back? Yep, they’re the business. Perhaps the best part of it, though, is seeing people turn around to see where that cool noise is coming from. I guarantee you they are not expecting to a see a midsize wagon. The incongruity of the RS6 Avant is without question a huge part of its appeal.

There are three exhaust settings – Quiet, Automatic (normal) and Present – though even the loudest keeps things respectable under normal acceleration. Another part of the stealthiness.

Audi RS6 Avant rear

And you want a performance SUV, why?

What a machine. This is a big car, but it’s remarkably capable of slicing through the tight, technical canyon road bits I threw at it in the Santa Monica Mountains. Once you get past the initial turn-in, which feels rather normal, it eagerly tucks itself into the turn with the rear end rotating around. It feels rear-biased while still providing the confidence of all-wheel drive. Again, a big-time transformation with Dynamic.

And you want a performance SUV, why? Part II

You can keep your X5 M Competition, thank you very much. The RS 6 Avant’s more than practical enough for me, representing an appreciable upgrade in size over my old A4-based Allroad that had to go because it just wasn’t big enough for my family. The A6-based Avant is A-OK, with sufficient backseat room and a large, useful cargo area that benefits from one of my favorite cargo area features: the roll-up cargo net.

You can read more about that and everything that it can hold in my RS6 Avant luggage test.

Audi RS6 Avant cargo cargo net raised

Oh my god, the engine

This engine, a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 good for 621 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque, is one helluva way for Audi to go out of the internal combustion business. Doff your cap, exit stage left. It hits 60 mph in 3.3 seconds and, again, sounds incredibly awesome doing it.

I gunned it after turning onto a long straight on Mulholland Highway. Holy expletive. It just goes and goes and goes. You get that initial torque blast, not unlike that of an EV, but then the power just kept coming and coming with ferocity. It’s truly intense.

Power delivery changes dramatically with drive mode, though. Throttle response is pared back considerably in Automatic/normal mode, and not in a lazy mushy way, but more in a way that highlights just how feisty it is in Dynamic mode. Meanwhile, the eight-speed automatic is almost too eager to downshift under braking in Dynamic. There were a couple of times heading into a corner when it kicked down one too many cogs. Easy, tiger.

Audi RS6 Avant V8 Audi RS6 Avant V8 detail

The steering is just so good

I’m not sure when it happened, but the steering in S and RS Audi models got extremely good. Not Porsche tactility, but on the scale of things, it’s quite high. RS 3, S4, and even an SQ7 have impressed with their ability to transmit what’s going on at pavement level to my hands. The RS 6 Avant, not surprisingly, does so as well.

Again, there’s notable difference between drive modes. Now, it’s hard to tell between the two on-center, and even effort at initial turn-in isn’t terribly different. But once you go a bit further, Dynamic is remarkably quick and eager to turn. Steering is also quick enough that I didn’t need to shuffle steer much around corners. I don’t think it’s the most feelsome steering, but the weighting is spot-on all the time.

Audi RS6 Avant interior driver side
Audi RS6 Avant touchscreen radio Audi RS6 Avant bottom touchscreen haptic touch

I’m going to miss Audi’s twin-screen interior

The central touchscreen is small by today’s luxury car standards and isn’t integrated into some giant, curved housing with the IP like Audi’s next-gen system will be. Whatever. I really like this system. It’s easy to use, looks good, reacts quickly, and enough can’t be said for the haptic feedback that clicks back at you just as Audi’s buttons have richly done for decades now. Really, both the main infotainment touchscreen and the second one below mostly dedicated to HVAC would be better described as “press screens” since they take a more concerted effort to engage whatever “button” you’ve pressed. I really hope haptic feedback survives to the next generation.

Audi RS6 Avant IP 3 info barf Audi RS6 Avant dynamic gauges

Enough with the info barf. What the hell is my speed?

As much as I like the infotainment system, I can’t say I like the all-digital instrument panel. There are three designs, all of which are newfangled info-barf things that don’t put enough emphasis on key instrument panel info like, I don’t know, your speed! Take a look at the pic above left and see how long it takes you to find the zero next to “MPH.” The RS mode layout pictured above right is also daft, with this weird two-lane top-to-bottom tachometer with your choice of black or white background. Stop trying so hard.

Too much is optional

For a car that starts at $126,895, including destination, there’s an awful lot that’s optional. Full leather interior, head-up display and heated rear seats are in a $2,750 package, while adaptive cruise control, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning, traffic sign recognition and auto rear emergency braking are in the $2,250 Driver assistance package. That stuff in particular should be standard. There’s also a bunch of pricey aesthetic upgrades and a $4,900 Bang & Olufsen sound system that kicks.

Taking a look at the Audi configurator, “my” RS6 Avant would be painted Ascari Blue ($595) ‘cause I guess I don’t want to be that stealthy, it would have the standard 21’s, have the standard black RS seats (which are brilliant, by the way) with blue stitching, the Driver assistance package (mostly for adaptive cruise) and the Bang & Olufsen system cause I have $AllTheMoney after all. Or, more precisely, $127,490.

Alas, I do not really, and when the nice man came to retrieve the RS6 Avant from my driveway I was a sad panda. This car is an all-star, a legend in the making, a reason to love cars. It’s simultaneously a daily driver, a weekend canyon carver, a style statement and a family road tripper. Chef’s kiss.

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