The New Audi RS6 – Less is More

Posted: December 8, 2012 by The Car Spy in Audi, New Cars, New Models
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Are the ‘Horsepower Wars’ finally over? The latest version of the RS6 from Audi suggests that the one-upmanship game being played by BMW, Mercedes and Audi in their seemingly never-ending quest to out-do each other’s powertrain outputs may be coming to an end.

In the past 10 years or so each of these manufacturers has unleashed a crushingly powerful, mile-munching, express-train of a road car that had the equivalent power output of a Formula One car from the 1980’s. When the Lotus Carlton was launched back in 1990 the motoring world went slack-jawed when it found out that this road-going family saloon produced 377 hp and had a top speed of 177 mph. Today those figures might be considered ‘mid-range’ for a super-saloon when close to 600 hp has become the most recent benchmark.

The question is this – do we really need that heady amount of horsepower in a car these days especially on the UK’s increasingly congested and restricted road network? Quite frankly we do not. The horsepower outputs of an M5, E63 or RS6 would very rarely be tested to the limit and certainly only a very brave person would attempt to reach the car’s top speed on a German autobahn. You know the feeling you get when a particularly lethargic person pulls out in front of you while you are gunning it in the fast lane on the M25? Imagine that happening at a 160 mph. Even in Germany there are idiots on the road.

The outgoing RS6 (C6 generation) produced a hefty 579 ps from its mighty 5.0 litre V10 engine. The new twin-turbo 4.0 litre V8 powered model produces 560 ps but is quicker. Zero to 62 mph takes only 3.9 seconds and torque output is up to 700 Nm from 650 Nm from the previous model. Let’s hope it sounds nicer than the outgoing V10 too. Not that it sounded like a tin full of rusty nails but the lovely growly, snarl from the original C5 generation RS6 was missing. Never mind about the car’s top speed and number of horses under the bonnet, what noise does it make while it goes about its business? Very important in our humble opinion.

Of course there is a lot of pressure on manufacturers to make their cars ‘greener’ these days and with increasingly onerous EU regulations on emissions it is likely that there will be a return to smaller engines possibly no larger than a V8 and more than likely a turbo-charged V6 will become the norm. Power outputs might go down even further as a balance between optimum performance, emissions and fuel consumption become the main criteria for car designers and engine builders.

Transmissions are getting a lot more complex too which is not always a good thing in our experience. Some of the new boxes have taken away the driver involvement you can achieve with a six-speed manual gearbox. Now we are told the ‘brain’ controlling the transmission is much cleverer than we are when it comes to changing gears especially as there are now up to eight to choose from (there is even talk of 10-speed autos arriving soon). It might be clever but it doesn’t know how to have a good time and is more concerned with saving the planet and keeping those nasty emissions down.

The new RS6 comes with Audi’s latest 8-speed Tiptronic transmission with Sport and Manual modes so at least you can pretend there are no fascist computers in charge. You also get Quattro all-wheel-drive with sport differential plus the choice of riding on adaptive air suspension or good old-fashioned steel springs. The new car is likely to be at least as good as the outgoing model when it comes to grippy road-holding – which is very good indeed.

Amongst the headlines of the Audi Press release it was written large that the new RS6 will achieve up to 28.8 mpg (combined).  That is pretty impressive considering that cars like this are never intended to make infrequent visits for fuel refills. This is because the 4.0 litre V8 has a little trick up its sleeve – it doesn’t use eight cylinders. Well at least not all of the time anyway. When you pop down to Waitrose, take the kids to school and drive to work in heavy traffic you will be mostly using four cylinders. Only when you have a chance to blow away the cobwebs and find yourself a decent stretch of empty road will you enjoy the full complement of eight cylinders. It would be even cleverer if Audi has made the car sound the same as the glorious V8 when it is using only four of its pistons. We look forward to finding out soon!

How much does it cost? Well the quoted OTR price is around £77000 which is comparable to its nearest competitors and if you want a car that will keep up with a Porsche Turbo then it is never going to be cheap. Having said that the car comes with a very comprehensive spec and only by adding bits that you probably don’t need off the options list will you start bumping up the price even further.

So there you have it. The new RS6 is lighter, has a smaller engine with fewer horses, runs on four cylinders and uses less fuel than the car it replaces but is faster with more torque and even more fun. So less really is more it seems.

For further details of the new RS6 or any other model in the Audi range give The Car Spy a call on 01732 760699 or email

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