It’s hard to deny the appeal of an überwagon like the Audi RS6 Avant. It looks rad, it’s fast as hell, it’s comfy-cozy inside and it has some of the best multimedia and safety tech in the world. It’s even surprisingly utilitarian, thanks to that lovely longroof shape. About the only thing the RS6 Avant isn’t is affordable, at $117,595 to start (including destination). But it’s not like you aren’t getting what you pay for. Is there a better single do-it-all car than this?
This is one time when I encourage you to judge a book by its cover; the Audi RS6 Avant looks good. Nothing’s changed since the wagon first debuted in 2019, but it still looks fresh as a daisy. Those optional 22-inch wheels are almost comically oversized, and they give the Avant a super athletic stance on the road. I’m not normally a red-car guy, but this Tango Red hue really works on the RS6, though I’m not sure I’d spring for the $6,350 Carbon Optic package pictured here or even the less expensive $2,450 Black Optic get-up. The RS6’s standard silver trim is way more appealing to my eye.
Passenger accommodations are similarly appealing, especially done up in my test car’s cognac leather (which requires the addition of the $2,500 Executive package for some reason). Handsome lines and high-quality materials give a premium aura while three large screens bring a techy edge to the RS6’s interior. The RS-specific seats are equal parts plush and supportive, and every surface you touch befits this wagon’s six-figure price tag. Rear-seat passengers have plenty of space, too, and there’s 30 cubic feet of storage space behind ’em, which nearly doubles if you fold the back bench flat. Thanks, wagon.
That trio of screens houses some of the best cabin tech available anywhere, the highlight of which is Audi’s Virtual Cockpit configurable gauge cluster. Virtual Cockpit isn’t the latest digital IP setup, but it’s still the greatest, with Google Earth map integration and several different layouts featuring two RS-specific designs. You can use the steering wheel controls to move between driving data, navigation, audio and Bluetooth connectivity, and it’s all incredibly intuitive, without the hassle of weird touchpads or slider bars or any of that nonsense.
The dual-screen center stack arrangement displays Audi’s latest MMI software, with traditional multimedia/infotainment duties up top and a screen for climate and other vehicle controls below. The latter even turns into a handwriting pad for easy-peasy destination input or online search, and the system is generally quick to respond with properly calibrated haptic response that gives you the impression of ‘pushing’ the screen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto? You got ’em — and wirelessly, too.
Audi’s driver-assistance game is strong, with all the technologies you could want short of an actual Level 2 partially hands-free system like General Motors’ Super Cruise. However, I’ll continue to harp on Audi for not making the full roster of safety tech standard equipment. You have to add a $2,250 driver-assistance package to get things like adaptive cruise control with lane-keeping assist and traffic sign recognition — things that are included on $30,000 crossovers — though this pack does include Audi’s Intersection Assist (so you don’t hit someone while turning left) and Pre-Sense system that helps to better distribute energy in a crash.
The combination of red paint and a cognac interior is pure chef’s kiss.
Of course, the big reason to get an RS6 Avant is because it’s so stinkin’ good to drive. The 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine barks to life with authority, and as promised, the US-spec version sounds way better than the European model I first tested in 2019, which was subject to The Continent’s stricter particulate filter regulations. This engine has one of the smoothest stop/start systems around, so much so that I don’t have the urge to immediately turn it off. And while I definitely can’t call the RS6 Avant efficient, I’ll at least say that the EPA’s fuel economy ratings of 15 mpg city, 22 mpg highway and 17 mpg combined are easy to achieve, assuming you’re light on the throttle.
Not that you would (or should) go easy on it, considering this wagon totally slaps. The eight-speed automatic transmission quickly and seamlessly works its magic, and the steering wheel-mounted shifters offer refreshingly immediate responses, even if the paddles themselves are small and lame. With standard all-wheel drive, Audi claims a 3.6-second 0-to-60-mph time for this large lad, and if you’ve got a runway long enough, the RS6 will top out at 190 mph.
Even so, it isn’t the straight-line speed that’ll impress you. It’s things like the standard torque-vectoring rear differential and rear-axle steering that make the RS6 Avant so damn dreamy to drive. The former shuffles power between the rear wheels for better back-end bias, while the latter seemingly shortens the RS6’s long wheelbase, giving it impressive agility around tight corners. The steering is a little light for my tastes but not bad overall, however I do find the optional carbon-ceramic brakes somewhat fussy and hard to modulate. Those brakes are also hella expensive ($9,000!), so I’d just as well stick with the standard discs. They’re fine.
This looks like a spine-crushing wheel/tire combo, but the RS6’s ride is surprisingly well sorted.
This test car has Audi’s $1,250 Dynamic Ride Control steel-spring suspension rather than the RS6’s standard air springs. The differences between the two suspension setups are minor — you might notice a difference if you drive them back to back — and the DRC upgrade doesn’t ruin the Avant’s otherwise compliant ride over rough pavement. Even on the optional 22-inch wheels with rubber bands for tires, the RS6 Avant is perfectly amicable to just running errands without punishing its occupants. You could really pile on the miles in one of these and never feel an ounce of fatigue.
Go easy on the options and you can get a 2022 Audi RS6 Avant for less than $130,000, assuming you eschew the various Optic packages and stick with the standard 21-inch wheels. My generously optioned test car stickers for $145,550 including a $1,095 destination charge, which is a lot, until you consider that a less-powerful Porsche Panamera GTS Sport Turismo starts above $140,000 without any options, and similarly powered SUVs like the $110,000 BMW X5 M aren’t nearly as nice to drive and don’t look half as good.
Assuming you can afford one, it’s really easy to make the case for parking an Audi RS6 Avant in your garage. It fulfills the duties of sports car, luxury sedan and midsize SUV simultaneously, and it’s an altogether cooler way to check all those boxes.