Drivers Republic: Audi RS6 Saloon

ahpadt

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I used to think that only mad people bought Audi RS saloons.

With BMW mostly refusing to build estate versions of the M cars, and Mercedes always going down their own route with automatic transmissions and less driving dynamics on the AMG tackle (now being reversed with some style on the C63, it must be said), if you wanted a fast, practical family wagon, an RS4 or an RS6 was the way forward. But then back in 2004, the last RS4 arrived, and the situation changed somewhat. Here was a car that drove so well, you didn?t need to work-around any dynamic deficiencies by opting for the estate version and explain the non-BMW purchase on grounds of practicality. Just to confirm this, Quattro Gmbh engineering boss Stephan Reil told me that 67 percent of all RS4s sold were saloons. Even now, he says, they?re staggered by that figure.

But it looked unlikely that this trend would continue with the new RS6. The estate version I drove earlier this year was everything you?d expect ?fast, refined and beautifully assembled- but it was also very heavy and bereft of those wonderful control weights and supple damping that made the RS4 so appealing. It still made a better estate car than an M5 Touring, but the removal of the practical body style left you with the suspicion that this was another Audi RS saloon that would appeal to very few people.

It was with this in mind that I clapped eyes on the car you can see to the right of these words. Believe me, it looks even meaner in the flesh: like it would tear chunks from an M5. Now normally, it?s the estate Audi RSs that get the punchy coachwork - but with the new RS6, the saloon looks far, far more aggressive than the wagon. The way those blistered rear arches melt back into the rear overhang and the bootlid then kicks-up skywards is unexpectedly horny.

As is the way the saloon drives. Not much has changed, so you have to make do with 572bhp and 480lb ft of torque, a speed limiter that can be raised to 174mph and a six-speed auto box that does blip the throttle on downshifts. But according to Herr Reil, the saloon is 50kg lighter, and this has allowed them to reduce the spring rates on the car. These are small claims, but during my brief test-squirt, this car felt quite a bit more agile than the wagon. Softer springs also bring more ride comfort and allow the dampers to work more effectively. It still doesn?t have the ?shall I just drop 200 yards of rear rubber for the hell of it? appeal of an M5, but as an everyday fast saloon: one that steers with considerable accuracy and offers all the usual Audi benefits of quality and security, it is undeniably appealing. Perhaps the most important piece of mechanical weaponry is the excellent transmission, it makes the BMW?s SMG effort seem unresolved and crude.

In fact, if you offered me the red car pictured here, or an estate version, I?d take the four-door. It looks so much better and drives well enough to make it more appealing. So there you have it ? the new RS6 saloon: leave the dog at home

PLUS: Looks even more aggressive than the estate and of course retains the massive and easily accessible performance. Small weight saving has allowed some tweaks to the chassis that make the saloon feel more agile and entertaining than the wagon
MINUS: Fido has to stay at home. Lacks sheer bravado of a powersliding M5.

I wants! :woot:
 
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