THE Audi RS 6 Avant which caused such a stir, in the best possible way, when it debuted here a couple of years ago is now more powerful, sharper looking and faster than before.
It has also added the Performance moniker to its charms, a tag it wastes no time in proving.
Given that Avant is simply Audi's posh term for wagon, this car with its race-car heart almost doesn't make sense. Why would you put a blindingly quick, superbly accomplished engine in a vehicle, that in this country at least, is mostly used to ferry the family around?
Well, if you are the one doing the ferrying, it makes perfect sense. Sure a jaunt on das autobahn would be more enjoyable, but there's joy to be had just fetching the groceries or screeching into the school car park on time.
Sit back in those deep leather seats, press the start button and take in that pulse-racing husky gurgle.
I dare you to not smile.
The interior of this unassuming beast remains a masterclass in understated luxury with the new combination Alcantara and Valcona leather trim with honeycomb quilting an obvious design highlight.
A flat-bottom steering wheel, trademark aluminium highlights and discretely placed RS logos are appealing as are the clear graphics of the driver instrument display and the placement of the controls.
Could this Avant Performance have benefited from the on-trend virtual cockpit Audi has used so effectively in the new TT, Q7 and A4? Probably, given its sporty nature.
But that aside, the lodgings are difficult to fault especially if space is a tick on your wish list. The rear seat, big enough to hold three adults, no really, is not as enveloping as the front pews but not far off it either with sensibly sized door tubs and behind-seat pockets helping storage options.
There is a sizeable boot, 565-litres with the seats in place, practical enough to deal with family necessities.
On the road
Well, it is almost impossible to not be effusive when considering the performance of this RS 6 Avant because here is a car that impresses, seemingly, without even trying.
The twin-turbo V8 heartbeat has been retuned to offer up an extra 33kW of power - as if it needed it - with 700Nm of torque (750Nm with the overboost function) available from just 1750rpm.
Not convinced? How about this then. This two-tonne beauty can go from 0-100km in 3.7 seconds. Yes, indeed. And now while the speed is thrilling and the growling engine note a thing of reverence, it is the Avant's all-round performance that really inspires.
It is nicely balanced, bolts in and out of corners, is composed in tight situations and easy to manoeuvre despite its perceived bulk. There is simply no hesitation from take-off even in the wettest wet - that's insane - and it hustles along with assured purpose.
Drive Select gives you the option of Comfort, Auto and Dynamic modes to suit the surface, environment and of course your mood. And while it makes sense to opt for Comfort in city traffic, why not live a little?
Of course if you want to see what this machine can really do, a day at the race track beckons. If that is likely to be a regular occurrence then perhaps opt for the carbon-ceramic brakes ($20,940) which will extend your circuit playtime.
What do you get?
At this price you expect a bit of kit and aside from the usual, you also get matrix LED headlights, all-round dynamic turn indicators, digital TV, DAB radio, Audi parking system Plus with front, rear and 360-degree view, glass sunroof and powered tailgate with gesture control.
Safety features include Audi pre-sense Plus with autonomous emergency braking, lane change assist, side assist, park assist and adaptive cruise control with stop and go function.
Despite its speedy prowess, the RS 6 Avant Performance is a heavy car to move and while highway cruising returns around 8l/100km, confined city driving is more like 14l/100km.
Audi offer a 3 year/unlimited kilometre warranty with servicing at 12 months or 15,000km. Remember V8s cost more to register and insure.
Not many race-style V8 wagons to steal the thunder, well not in this country at least. The closest we can come is the BMW X5 M (from $185,900) or the new Porsche Panamera Turbo (from $304,200) which is soon to grace our shores.
So wagons are generally a fantastic family car option but are usually let down by what is seen as a more boring nature. No problem here then. How awesome to be able to transport the kids easily and safely and have fun too. The price though, ouch!
The addition of a funky titanium finish on the front spoiler, grille, rear diffuser and window surrounds sets the Performance variant apart from its predecessor. There are new 21-inch wheels too and matrix headlights. It's hard to imagine a wagon as race-car sexy but this one gives it a good go.
What a fun family option the RS 6 Avant Performance is, the perfect vehicle for a buyer looking for an edge. It may be an almighty juxtaposition of a car, but instead of trying to make sense of it just enjoy it. We would, if we had a spare quarter of a million dollars.
Model: Audi RS 6 Avant Performance.
Details: Five-door all-wheel-drive sports performance wagon.
Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol generating maximum power of 445kW @ 6100 - 6800rpm and peak torque of 700Nm between 1750 - 6000rpm.
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic.
Consumption: 9.7 litres/100km combined.
Bottom line plus on roads: from $245,400.
What matters most
What we liked: Er, everything.
What we'd like to see: Virtual cockpit as found in cheaper Audi models.
Warranty: 3 year unlimited kilometre warranty, servicing at 12 months or 15,000km.
Driving experience 19/20
Features and equipment 18/20
Functionality and comfort 18/20
Value for money 18/20
Style and design 17/20
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