Ryan Bubear straps into a mega-wagon: the Audi RS 6 Avant quattro...
The Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS. The Jaguar F-Type R AWD. The Aston Martin Vanquish Volante. The Mercedes-AMG GT.
That's a pretty solid list of highly desirable, lightning quick automobiles, right? Well, consider this: all are slower to 100km/h than the subject of this review.
Yes, these exotic sports-cars aren't quite as rapid to three figures as the humble station-wagon pictured on this page.
Okay, perhaps humble isn't the most appropriate word to use here. The Audi RS 6 Avant quattro — which, for the record, hits 100km/h from standstill in a barely believable 3.9 seconds (a full four-tenths quicker than the base model of the outgoing R8 range) — is a bit of a head-turner.
The low-slung wagon stands out from the crowd thanks to its bulging wheel-arches, tasty 21-inch alloys, angry front and rear bumpers, gaping oval-shaped twin exhaust pipes, and a smattering of RS badging. The Sepang Blue model we tested furthermore featured the optional carbon styling package (for a whopping extra R55k) and the brand's clever Matrix LED headlights (for another R16k).
Yet, despite these delightfully fierce styling cues, there's no denying the RS6 Avant's family-focused roots. Yes, pop the electrically operated tailgate and you're greeted by a mammoth 565 litres of packing space (or 1680 litres with the back seats dropped). And, thanks to the 2915mm wheelbase, the rear passenger area will happily house a pair of six-footers. Impractical it most certainly is not.
But, naturally, it's the engine bay that garners the most attention. Under the elongated bonnet lurks a 4.0-litre turbocharged V8 packing all of 412kW between 5700rpm and 6600rpm, and a monstrous 700Nm from just 1750rpm right the way through to 5500rpm.
Top speed is electronically limited to 250km/h, but specify the "dynamic package plus" (for *cough* a further R168 270) and that figures rises to 305km/h. Out and about in the world of speed cameras and dense traffic, though, the hulking forced induction unit is as tractable as it is ferocious.
Of course, the world of performance car ownership is about more than mere numbers, as impressive as this particular set may be. And the all-wheel drive Audi RS 6 Avant delivers on an emotive level, too. Jab the start button, for instance, and the hefty eight-cylinder mill thunders to life, sending shivers down the driver's spine and the neighbourhood cats scampering.
The soundtrack, unsurprisingly, becomes even more spine-tingling under full throttle, with addictive pops and crackles easily induced on the overrun. But switch the drive select mode — which allows the vehicle's character to be altered in a manner more pronounced than most systems — from "Dynamic" to "Comfort", and it all quietens down considerably, and the eight-speed tiptronic transmission skips through its cogs with barely a flutter.
Likewise, the standard adaptive air suspension — with its continuously variable damper system and permanent self-levelling — softens significantly, altering the ride from, well, firm-but-comfortable to comfortable-but-firm. The steering, too, gains a smidgen more assistance.
Cylinder-on-demand technology, meanwhile, attempts to coax the 3993cc powerplant towards something approaching efficiency, with the Ingolstadt-based automaker claiming a combined fuel consumption of 9.8 litres per 100km. But even the most restrained driver would struggle to keep the figure below ten; indeed, we ended up ballooning to a sky-high 16.9 litres per 100km. Discipline, clearly, is not our strong point.
But everyday burdens such as obscene fuel bills matter little when the right road presents itself, particularly when piloting a R1.5-million mega-wagon. Not only does the RS 6 mimic a super-sports-car in a straight line, it does so around corners, too. With a self-locking centre differential splitting the torque asymmetrically between the front and rear axle, there's oodles of fun to be had when the tar gets twisty.
Despite a distinct sense of rear-biased handling, the 4979mm-long estate never feels as though it's trying to kill its driver (we can't say the same from the similarly priced rear-drive Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG S). Indeed, the Audi clings to the tarmac with reassuring gusto, while the standard sport differential helps serve up a rapid and pin-point-accurate turn-in.
The interior, of course, is standard Audi fare: classy, cleverly arranged, and crammed full of tech. But there's no getting away from the fact that it's a step behind the German automaker's very latest, new-generation cabins (such as those found in the TT, Q7, and A4). There's no option of adding the stunning virtual cockpit, for instance, since this is an older vehicle.
Still, with a surprisingly generous standard equipment list — that includes MMI 3G Navigation, Alcantara/leather trim (although our vehicle featured optional Valcona leather with honeycomb stitching), electrically operated front sports-seats, four-zone air-conditioning, and a 360-degree camera that makes parking a doddle — this is a foible quickly forgiven.
Ultimately, the Audi RS 6 Avant is the consummate performance all-rounder. It'll gladly tackle the morning school run before dismantling a mountain pass on the way back (all the more reason to send your kids to a far-flung institute, then). And all with a boot big enough to positively devour the weekly grocery shopping.
It's sophisticated and sensible when you want it to be. And crushingly quick and capable when you don't.
Yes, Audi RS 6 Avant does virtually everything exceedingly well. Including beating a bunch of exotic sports-cars to three figures.
Follow @Ryan_Bubear on Twitter.
See page two for specs and pricing.