The Audi ABT RS6-R 740 hp Avant: The world’s most practical supercar
The €110,000 (US$120,000) Audi RS6 Avant has been the highest performance variant in the Audi A6 range since 2002, and is now only available in estate car guise: an eccentric combination of 600 hp supercar performance blended with a civilized eight-speed Tiptronic transmission, full-time Quattro all-wheel-drive system and common sense practicality that can fit the entire family plus a dog and still do the daily commute.
In a move that now pushes the twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 TFSI RS6 Avant firmly into ballistic missile territory, Audi performance partner ABT Sportsline has announced a limited production (125 units only) variant with 740 hp (544 kW) and 920 Nm (up from the standard 800 Nm) performance at an additional cost of €70,000 ($76,000).
Remarkably, despite being able to reach 100 km/h (62 mph) from standstill in 3.2 seconds, the ballistic family wagon now comes with a four-year, 100,000-mile warranty. The 600 hp (441 kW) RS6 engine output has been increased to 740 hp (544 kW) RS6-R specs with a new ABT engine-control unit, a new exhaust system and engine-management changes, and ABT claims the upgrades increase the RS6's top speed from 174 to 199 mph.
The biggest difference between the third and fourth generation RS6 is not in the engine department but in the chassis. The ABT RS6-R takes full advantage of the all-wheel steering that is available as an option on the RS6. This combines dynamic steering at the front axle, which uses an infinitely variable strain wave gearing, with a separate rear-axle steering system with a spindle drive and track rods. At low speeds, the rear wheels turn as much as five degrees in the opposite direction relative to the front wheels. This reduces the turning circle by as much as one meter, making the RS6 Avant more agile in city traffic and tight curves. At intermediate and high speeds, the rear wheels turn by as much as two degrees in the same direction, promoting stability, particularly when changing direction quickly.
The RS6 has been praised by the automotive press for its superb handling characteristics and ABT has further developed the RS6 steering and suspension systems with the addition of special coilover suspension springs, sports anti-roll bars and 22-inch ABT High Performance HR wheels. The resulting car has not yet been trialled in the real world by the media, but it is suffice to say that ABT’s press pack for this car uses the headline “Special Limited Edition ABT RS6-R – super agile with 740 hp.”
The Audi ABT RS6-R is distinctly different visually from the base RS6, with a complete carbon fiber makeover of every external component and an aerodynamic package that includes among other things, an ABT frontlip and front grille frame add-on, rear skirt add-on, side skirt attachments and fender inserts.
Indeed, it may well be that some buyers don’t want the complete Darth Vader carbon treatment, so it should be pointed out that there’s another ABT Performance Upgrade package known as the ABT RS6+ that sits between the standard RS6 Avant and the RS6-R, offering 700 hp and 880 Nm of torque. Limited to 50 vehicles only, the RS6+ package offers a top speed of 320 km/h and costs an addition €49,100 (US$53,500) or as a complete car for €182,000 (US$198,000).
There have been no pricing figures released for the cars on the American market as yet, so we have used the European pricing and converted directly into USD at current exchange rates – it’s an indication for convenience until such time as there’s an official announcement.
One final quirk that may be of interest to potential buyers of this supercar-of-all-trades is ABT's collaboration with Italian boat builder SACS. Just as Mercedes-AMG has long had an association with Cigarette Racing in producing co-designed powerboats for marine lifestyles, ABT has been working with SACS on a co-branded version of its Strider 11 luxury sports speedboat, adding more power than an RS6+ to a lightweight 11-meter RIB so you can have a boat to perfectly match your RS6+ or RS6-R. You don't need to be a mathematician to understand those numbers result in an absolute monster of a powerboat with PWC-like performance. It's capable of 50 knots (around 93 km/h) on the water even with half a dozen friends aboard.
In all honesty, the standard Audi RS6 Avant is a monster well before ABT gets anywhere near it, and you probably don't need the extra horses. The RS6 Avant is a style of car that has never gained much traction in the American marketplace, yet there are other markets around the world that love the practicality of the form factor. Combine complete civility and the ability to change the nature of the beast with a dial, and it makes a lot of sense ... at least, enough sense to consider a test drive if you're in the market. And if 600 hp isn't enough, you know where you can add some additional herbs to the recipe.
Product page: ABT