Long-term report: How close to perfection is an Audi RS6?
James Baggott waxes lyrical about his long-term test performance estate car.
As long-term car loans go, they don’t get much better than six months with an Audi RS6.
As my colleagues will testify, I can usually find at least one thing to moan about most cars – but when it comes to this mighty estate I can honestly say I struggle to find a bad word to say about it.
For me, an RS6 is about as perfect as cars can get. You get the practicality of an SUV with a huge boot that swallows pretty much anything you throw at it, but all coupled with excellent driving dynamics, handling and supercar power.
I’ve never been a huge fan of SUVs that seem to dominate the best-selling car charts and have always favoured the humble estate. In fact, were it my own money I was shelling out on a family car, a powerful performance load lugger like this would be top of my list.
What I really love about the Audi is the fact that while it might have 591bhp under the bonnet and the ability to hit 60mph in 3.6 seconds – which, for the record, is faster than a Ferrari 360 – it can still be wonderfully sedate when you want it to be.
When you’ve got a baby in a child seat in the back, and the rest of the family along for the ride, it’s good to know that the RS6 can behave itself with a compliant ride and wafting acceleration rather than always being an unruly racer.
To be honest, I rarely test the car’s potent acceleration for fear of losing my licence. That’s why it sometimes comes as a bit of a surprise quite how much oomph it’s packing when I do need it at a busy junction, or when joining a fast-flowing motorway.
The only time I’m really reminded of the 4.0-litre V8 propelling me around is when I glance down at the average fuel economy. On a recent trip into London, I was achieving a painful 9mpg in traffic. Yes, it made me wince too.
However, on longer journeys – one to Leeds and that same aforementioned trip to London – the Audi has managed to top 30mpg on the motorway. It manages this by shutting off the engine and coasting when it can. That said, I still fill up the 70-litre petrol tank all too frequently at wallet-punishing prices.
However, as a family-friendly car, the RS6 works brilliantly. The child car seat fits onto the ISOFIX points in the back with plenty of space to spare for the front seat passenger, and the cavernous boot has swallowed pushchair and baby accompaniments on many occasions without trouble.
I’ve had a few warning lights illuminate on the dash in recent weeks, but thankfully nothing serious. The first was a low oil level light which meant some urgent addition of some Mobil 1, while the second was low tyre pressures. The latter I put down to the recent cold snap, but I have topped them up nonetheless.
There are lots of other little things to love about the Audi that all add up to make it a great car to live with. The infotainment system is first class with the excellent integration of wireless CarPlay, a real boon.
I’m also a big fan of the memory seats. My better half is roughly half my height. Ok, that might be pushing it, but every time I get in after she’s been driving the RS6, I smack my knees on the steering wheel and head butt the sun visor. Fortunately, the memory seat button puts the seat and steering wheel back into my favoured position swiftly – I just wish it would adjust the rear view mirror too.
The sound system is monumentally good and the haptic feedback touch screens – of which it has two – are great to use and display information clearly. Everything is so intuitive to use that you only really notice how good it is when you try to use a system in another car. Few have lived up to the ease of the Audi.
I was reminded of quite how good the RS6 was during a recent swap into a Bentley Flying Spur test car. While from the same manufacturing stable, I found the Bentley incredibly uncomfortable to drive compared to the Audi and the tech far less simple to use. And despite its far bigger proportions, I would say the RS6 was capable of carrying more.
While the Bentley might have a luxury badge, and cost twice as much as the RS6, I was frankly quite glad to get back in my Audi. And if anything speaks of a long-term test car’s brilliance, it’s that.
Next up for the RS6 is my annual pilgrimage to the Alps. I’ll be adding roof bars, top box and winter tyres for the trip and am nearly as excited about driving it down there as I am for the snow. I’ll report back on how that trip goes next time.