Audi didn’t invent the high-performance Euro-wagon—AMG got there first in 1988 with a one-of-a-kind load-lugging version of the legendary Hammer, powered by a 375-hp, 6.0-liter V-8. But when engineers stuffed a 311-hp 2.2-liter five-cylinder turbomotor under the hood of an Audi 80 wagon, Audi made the genre its own.
The fourth-generation RS 6 Avant represents the ultimate expression of the original RS formula. It’s the most visually aggressive RS 6 Avant yet, with even more extremely pumped bodysides than the previous model, and more overtly sporty front and rear design elements. The muscular 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 under the hood packs 40 more horses than the previous RS6 Avant’s powerplant, along with 590 lb-ft of torque from 2,100 rpm to 4,500 rpm, an increase of 74 lb-ft. In addition to that sub-3.6 second 0-60 time, Audi says the RS 6 Avant will hit 124 mph in just 12 seconds.
The engine drives all four wheels—of course—through a sport-tuned eight-speed automatic transmission. A mechanical center differential delivers a 40/60 front-to-rear torque split under normal conditions, but if slip is detected it will automatically funnel up to 70 percent of the twist action to the front wheels, and up to 85 percent to the rears.
Only the roof, front doors, and tailgate are shared with the standard car. Everything else is unique to the RS 6 Avant. Edgy and assertive, a hulking and sinister presence in the metal, it makes the Mercedes-AMG E 63 wagon look ready for the retirement home.
A flat-bottom steering wheel features multifunction buttons that allow the driver to select the RS1 and RS2 modes from the Audi Drive Select menu. Sport seats in Black Pearl Nappa leather and Alcantara come with RS embossing and rhombus pattern. Optional RS sport seats are available in perforated Valcona leather with honeycomb pattern and RS embossing.
The 2020 Audi RS 6 Avant is expected to go on sale in the U.S. in the third quarter of next year.