Audi’s Avant didn’t exactly have the best of starts with Autocar India. We initially got our hands on the car at our annual track day, but while all nine other cars landed up at the venue bang on time, the RS6 turned up a whole day late. The truck transporting it, apparently, had broken down. What a missed opportunity!
I did get to hurl it around the track and experience the otherworldly explosion of power and torque one balmy Chennai morning and that completely blew my mind, right then and there. But what the RS6 also did was impress the hell out of me as a driver’s car. Thing is, I wasn’t really expecting much initially, especially after the quite ‘wooden’ RS7, and then, this was a practical estate after all. But boy, was I wrong. The overall balance, the mega brakes and the fact that I could steer and guide it deftly, even with all four tyres howling; I was just blown away. Here was a car that looked like Mom’s wagon, with its large loading bay and insane length, but instead of being purely practical in its manner of operation, it boasted M5-busting performance. And then there was the fact that it was an estate: it was so anti-cool, I just loved it. Would have loved to see Narain bend it around the track in Chennai; elbows, wrists and steering wheel flaying wildly.
What also got me seriously scratching my head was the performance. Yeah, I did read the spec sheet, but the top-end just felt insanely savage. Turbo motors aren’t supposed to have such a strong finish. Santa Clause’s chariot, with 560 Bambies (hp) and 699 Thumpers (Nm) prancing away under the hood sure had me impressed.
So, I was thrilled when staffer Selvin Jose announced he was going to take it up to Amby Valley in Lonavala for a drag race. I was pretty sure he was going to cream some of the opposition, even though there were some seriously quick cars on hand. And it was no surprise really when he came back clutching a couple of trophies.
It was then that the slightly silly arguments started; around the chai tapri, as they inevitably do. This car, you see, weighs in excess of two tonnes; as much or more than many SUVs. It has four-wheel drive, massive 285 tyres on 21-inch rims and plenty of smart systems to prevent the wheels spinning the power away. So grip is massive. But there were some who claimed the weight actually helped the RS6 put the power down better by providing greater traction to the wheels; more weight can act like more down force, as it does on an F1 car. But would more weight actually help traction in a straight line? I was pretty sure lighter was better, but the question still rankled me: how much slower would a fully laden car be? You easily notice the debilitating effect of excess weight on a regular car, but would this car, with an overabundance of power and torque and relatively less grip, truly benefit?
There was only one way to find out; head out with a fully loaded car, passengers and luggage, run it to a healthy speed, say 200kph, and then do it again with only a driver. It also helped that we hadn’t actually got ourselves a set of figures for this car; so this kills two birds with one stone. Game on.
First up, RS6, one driver and a long, long track ahead. There’s no launch control, but putting my left foot on the brake, getting the engine speed up and letting it go unleashes such a violent reaction, I scream expletives, as we get shot out of the proverbial cannon. Acceleration is so savage my eyes dilate in surprise, I grip the wheel harder and what is truly insane is that the shove in the back only gets stronger and stronger for the first few seconds. And the pull is so strong, I have to prevent my head from flopping back, even as I shift up into third. Has someone quietly chipped this car? I don’t quite remember it pulling this hard on the track. This is supercar pace alright. What’s giving it a bit more zip is the fact that unlike Autocar India test standards, there’s no passenger on board with me.
Still, I’m sure there’s something wrong when the numbers pop up on the screen: 3.4 seconds to 100kph; are you SERIOUS? That’s within spitting distance of a superbike. And this whale weighs approximately two tonnes. I scroll down and there’s more disbelief; the RS6 has blown past 150 in 6.7 seconds, BRAAAP and in 12.3 seconds, it’s sailed past 200. And that means, it’s faster than all sorts of supercars.
The RS6 has so much grunt, it just keeps going, well past 200kph.
Then it’s time to load it up. Three passengers climb in, we’ve each carried a check-in bag full of clothes and the loading bay swallows these easily. It does ride differently over a few rough patches and doesn’t feel as explosive, but acceleration is super strong all the same. Does it feel faster? No, not really, and the figures confirm this. The laden car takes 4.3 seconds to 100, 8.2 seconds to 150 and 200 comes up in 15.1 seconds; so it’s clearly slower. Power to weight; yeah, the physics works. But oh what a mad car; 200 in under 15 seconds, loaded up to the gills. Now you know.