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Auto review: Audi RS6 Avant, station wagon from the gods

Henry Payne, The Detroit News on

Published in Business News

I grew up in the back of a blue 1960s Buick station wagon. Bench rear seats. Steering column-mounted shifter. Rear-wheel drive. Turned like a cruise ship.

The 2021 Audi RS6 Avant is not that wagon.

On Hankerd Road south of Hell, Mich., I initiated launch control. Then I released the 591-hp, 590-torque twin-turbo V-8 Kraken. With its 8-speed transmission firing off rifle-quick shifts and the all-wheel-drive system electronically managing torque to all four corners, the wagon gulped asphalt at an astonishing rate. The speedo blew by (censored to preserve my license) mph, yet the car felt stable as a rock — its 4.0-liter mill begging for more throttle.

Cul-de-sacs were the natural habitat of my mom's Buick. My scarlet RS6 tester was at home on Hell's twisted roads. Devil in a red suit. Swollen fenders like a muscle shirt over huge 22-inch wheels. Brooding headlight signature. Push the Avant's start button and it awakens like a tiger that hasn't eaten in a week. RRRROWR.

Avant's gotta' eat, and Hell's rural roads are the best feeding ground in state.

RS is German for Rennsport — which translates to English as Racing Sport. I think Rocket Ship is more appropriate. With radical modifications to the suspension and drivetrain, the RS is Audi's pinnacle badge — transforming luxury vehicles like the Allroad into snarling performance deviants that itch to get on track (not just drive the family to it).

 

Case in point, my Avant (more German: Avant means "wagon") is based on the $66,895 A6 Allroad wagon I tested last summer. On my I-96 trip west to Hell, RS6 exhibited all the civilized qualities of that housebroken tourer: roomy interior, panoramic roof, twin console screens for infotainment/climate, driver-assist and Google Earth-enhanced navigation. A word about the latter two features.

Audi has made great strides since the first A8L I drove back in 2015 with erratic drive assist that would have smacked into the Lodge M-10's concrete walls were it not for driver intervention. The RS6, by contrast, navigated westbound 96 beautifully. I took curves hands free, the wagon staying centered in the lane rather than pinballing from one side to the other.

Smartphone-based Google apps are the best nav systems on the planet, but I'm a sucker for the Audi's gorgeous Google Earth displays — even if it often takes multiple attempts for the voice recognition system to understand me.

Me: Navigate to Hell, Mich.

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