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RS6 Avant: Grocery-Getter Turns Fast-Food

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RS6 Avant: Grocery-Getter Turns Fast-Food

Post by LhYnxz on Mon Sep 22, 2008 7:00 pm






By: G.R. Whale

At it's
electronically-limited 280 kph top speed the RS6 Avant shoves air and
reluctant Mercedes drivers out of the way at about 255 feet per second,
so when that bug dies in a camera-click 1/250th of a second on your
windshield it still leaves a trail a foot long. In warm weather at
least, you’ll spend considerable time cleaning dead bugs off an RS6’s
leading edges.
Although a
sedan has joined the RS6 family for 2009 Audi hasn’t said anything
about potential import to the North American market. What with the
flunking dollar/euro relationship, NHTSA/DOT drones, and sales numbers
on the only remotely competitive car—the E63 AMG wagon--in the
single-digit-per-month realm, the caution is understandable. We’re
pessimistic given the costs of certification and diagnostics for a
low-volume engine that is not otherwise offered here.
On the
other hand bringing it stateside would offer some benefits. Even at
small volume every unit counts when amortizing parts like custom
fenders. You could scare the bejeebers out of…oops, um…educate
Americans on Audi engineering three at a time as opposed to one at a
time in an R8, maximizing exposure at marketing events. The same engine
could be plugged into an R8 GT and make a homologated racer. Finally,
Audi would become the only automaker with a waiting list for a station
wagon, and how cool would that be?


Even those
lacking any experience with four rings quickly recognize the RS6 is
different. The bulbous fenders are a softer contemporary version of
those shelves on the “original” quattro, the added width emphasized
more on certain paint colors. The outer intercooler air intakes, with a
cooling fan behind each, resemble some of the changes applied to the
’09 A6 lineup and eliminate the separate fog lamps, and the 20-inch
wheels are a dead giveaway.
Out back,
a small spoiler atop the rear window and a shallow diffuser molded into
the bumper cover keep the car stable at high speed, as does all the
ducting underneath you need a ramp or lift to inspect; it might not be
the cleanest underbody and the exhaust pipes aren’t as big as you
expect, but the air management is well-sorted. The other changes are
all RS staples: matte-finish aluminum-look trim for center grille, door
handles, and outside mirrors, and a pair of big oval exhaust outlets.
The side
signal repeaters are now in the rear-view mirrors rather than a simple
front fender mount, more visible to oncoming traffic but less so to
that adjacent or off a quarter. Your correspondent prefers the older
style for awareness and it made knocked off mirrors cheaper to replace.
Other
differences are a function of location rather than model, with some
detail changes to lighting systems and wide-angle rearview mirrors on
each side. Unlike the U.S. spec A6 Avant, a sunroof is not standard
equipment and if you choose one be sure it’s closed before the speed
run as it will pop your ears if you shut it at triple-digit velocity.


Everything
inside will look familiar to Audi-philes, and changes from a U.S.
market S6 are limited to small bits like the trim choices, KPH
speedometer that reads to 320, different gradation markings on fuel and
coolant gauges, and the flat-bottom steering wheel. German-spec cars
use the same labels for MMI and stalk controls but the data displays
reflect the methods used there, like liters/100 kilometers for fuel
consumption. If you’ve driven MMI before you won’t need the German
owner’s manual to select English.
Standard
seats are much like those in the S with integral headrests, shoulder
bolsters and adjustable thigh extensions up front and no map pockets in
back. Whether you’d prefer the severely bolstered hard-shell sport
seats from an R option list rather depends on the size of your pants
and tire budget. Our skinny butts had no issues sliding about and we
got as far as tire-squealing corners, mild drifts, and the kind of
heavy braking you have to remember to start breathing again afterwards.
Leather is
the default material and done to Audi’s typical benchmark standard but
not as soft and cushy as a full-tilt W12 A8. This one was trimmed in
piano black and while it might easily get scuffed where it curves over
the forward console, unwanted reflections of sun glare were
surprisingly minimal. Overhead, the largest single piece of Alcantara
I’ve run across; every high-end car I’ve tested with a roof this size
also had a sunroof.
The
parts-bin flat-bottom steering wheel doesn’t feel out of place here,
nor does it interfere with control and instrument viewing. With just
more than two turns lock-to-lock you’ll rarely have to take your hands
off it except for parking maneuvers best accomplished with palming it
rather than shuffling the flat through your hands.


It has been
suggested that the shift paddles should be mounted to the steering
column rather than on the wheel—a personal decision but your
correspondent sees no need. The gearbox does everything you want in
“Sport” mode and even with the stability of quattro and a competent
chassis there is nothing to be gained by potentially upsetting an
at-the-limit car mid-corner by changing gears, which is why the best
auto-boxes (including this one) won’t do it. Second, there’s an
elastic, deep well of torque to deal with and smooth torque often makes
a cleaner corner than unrestrained horsepower. But if you wanna have
your hands and the car all crossed up and prefer column-mounted blades,
by all means drop Audi a note.
The only
downside to the cabin relative some other wagons, including Mercedes’
E63AMG, is the sloping rear window line identical to the A6 Avant that
takes away some big-box cargo space. And you can fold down the rear
seatbacks but not quite flat. Neither will cause defection to another
brand but don’t expect five people and Q7 volume.
Perhaps
one of the best plusses for traveling abroad, even with locals on
board, was the navigation. Not only did “she” (at least in English)
give quick directions that only faulted once on a street that was
one-way for 50 yards, if you missed a turn she knew as soon as the
front tires passed the apex and got you back on track, and she
recalculated your route automatically based on traffic information
received. The “avoid toll road” choice should be checked if you plan on
venturing into many of Germany’s neighbors.
Stuffed
under the hood you’ll find the cars’ soul and despite the tight
packaging you can actually see some recognizable engine parts. Off to
the passenger’s side is a larger-than-average screw top with an oil can
symbol on it because this isn’t a dipstick but the tank for the
dry-sump oil system. Plugs and the fuel rail look fairly accessible,
but anything major will require some time just to get to the engine.


The 5-liter
V-10 uses a common-pin crank and four chains to drive the camshafts and
pumps; since they’re at the front and other noises take over it doesn’t
have the mechanical sweetness of the higher-revving RS V-8s. The crank
is carried by an aluminum structure that combines girdle and
lower-block duties, with an aluminum sump below that doesn’t cost
ground clearance or need a hood bulge. Oil cooling through a thick
air-to-oil radiator behind the lower grille is thermostatically
controlled.
The small
turbos are right on the exhaust manifolds and like a Bentley W-12 won’t
be heard inside. They push max boost of 1.6 bar through twin throttle
bodies into a compression ratio of 10.5:1—amazing what direct injection
can do for combustion control. As a result you get that flat torque
“curve” with almost 480 lb-ft spread across 4700 rpm.


Audi claims
0-62 mph (100 kph) in 4.6 seconds and 0-124 mph (200 kph) in 14.9
seconds. We don’t know if those numbers were generated in auto or the
manual mode that’s said to shift 10% faster, but our German watches and
the lap timer both said they are conservative. With just a hint of
traction searching we saw 100 kph in about 4.4 but we saw 200 kph in a
range from very high 13s to mid 14s and some publications have seen
0-200 kph in less than 14.5 so any way you look it’s a steamroller.
Kept on the mat it was up to its 280 kph limiter right around 30
seconds from launch...and the “range remaining” was losing numbers 10
times as fast as tenths-of-kilometers were adding up.
Bereft of
its limiter the RS6 would outrun an R8. Rumor has it an engineer got an
RS6A to 205 mph but given that a 600-hp Bentley Continental GT Speed
with a slightly better Cd but more weight and likely frontal area
quotes 202, a low-200 figure sounds good for bench racing.
Of course, there is always something faster somewhere, and we gladly
left lots of room for the quickly closing 599. Since the Audi didn’t
feel it at all we have to assume he must have when he passed with a nod
from his string-backed driving glove.
Despite
its prodigious performance the Audi is quite docile rumbling along
cobblestones at 20 mph and effortlessly gathers momentum if you don’t
wish to disturb occupants or buy stock in Aral. At 125 mph it’s loafing
at about 3200 rpm, and the sweet spots show up around 100 mph, at that
125, and around 145; you won’t often have the opportunity but it does
gravitate to the 165-mph mark in the upper reaches.

_________________

LhYnxz
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Re: RS6 Avant: Grocery-Getter Turns Fast-Food

Post by LhYnxz on Mon Sep 22, 2008 7:00 pm









Amusing as
speed runs are, they never compare with staying ahead of an Airbus on
final approach and rarely with an open winding road. With this kind of
power talk always turns to racetracks, and we did check the calendar at
the world’s fastest toll road and found it “closed” for racing. Sister
company VW’s test track at Ehra would be nice for its open straight,
but they’re a bit secretive about who gets in.
However,
tempting as the idea is, a racetrack isn’t the best place to take an
RS6 Avant, especially if it doesn’t have the optional ceramic brakes.
Chassis tuning, advanced suspensions and quattro can do wonders but
they can’t shed any of 4,600 pounds of car and driver being hauled
around. You won’t be able to get anywhere near the 8:09 ‘Ring time
bandied about unless you really have your act together and Queen Sabine
is co-pilot, or better yet, driving. You won’t so easily recognize the
grand touring ability of the car to cover vast distances in comfort
without regard to conditions. And the tires and brakes will be trashed
in no time if you don’t take care of them—and you won’t with 572 bhp.
The V-10
comes to life after a few spins and settles into a lumpy, cold-blooded
fast idle, the sonic percussion so much like a muted Viper one observer
said it sounded like a tractor. The torque converter has just enough
slip that the lumpiness doesn’t translate to jerkiness while
maneuvering out of your spot.
Steering
feels quick because it’s just 2.2 turns lock-to-lock and it weights up
nicely as you push harder but the physics of all-wheel drive and
associated unsprung weight keep it from matching the feedback and
precision of rear-drive cars; the M5 Touring has a clear advantage in
this respect, the E63 wagon a lesser advantage.
The
opposite-shock linked Dynamic Ride Control includes damping adjustable
through MMI with options of comfort, dynamic and sport. Obviously you
can choose comfort for max plush and sport for max firmness but the
dynamic setting works so well it’s ideal for street use. Get a good
ride most of the time—better than an S6 even with the RS’ 20-inch
wheels and steel brakes-- and crisp response when you hit the bend or
at very high speed, never touching a single control.


Cars with
the ceramic brake package lose almost 27 pounds in unsprung weight
which will help at the extremes but the ride improvement gains won’t
match those found on much lighter 911s. The ceramics use rotors 16.5
inches in diameter, about the same as the Bentley Continental GT Speed,
and part of the brake validation there is ten successive stops from 186
mph. But the standard steel brakes on our tester—15.4-inch rotors with
six-piston aluminum calipers up front and 14-inch rotors in back,
proved more than up to the task of the 174 mph top end. If you had to
slow considerably you’d be more concerned about what was behind than in
front of you, and the steel units were easy to modulate, fade free
despite our hammering fully loaded, and not affected by cold or wet
like some ceramics are.
An empty
RS6 Avant carries 59% of its weight on the front end, but it doesn’t
feel like it. You can make it understeer using too much throttle from
start or being ham-fisted with the wheel, and it’s also possible to
provoke a mild oversteer attitude even with ESP on with the buckets of
power and 60% rear drive bias. Beating on it is likely to invoke ESP
and waste time, tires, brakes, or all three, but smoothness and gentle
touches are rewarded with a maddening pace that makes the RS6 feel a
good 500-1000 pounds lighter.
There are
two things you might find “not positive” and both are characteristic of
some high-performance cars. First, when the P Zeros have been running
high speeds for a while and you cool them at a reasonable (80-110 kph)
for a mile or two before parking for a break or fuel, they have big
flat spots when you take off again that are way worse than anything
you’ve experienced leaving your overnight garage.
The other
item is that you have to be careful with your right foot because you
don’t hear boost and it comes on so progressively it feels just like a
bigger engine. Not only can you quickly accelerate to a brisk pace
without going past 2000 rpm, using the throttle to balance the car is
best done, at least initially, with the “lap timer” window called up so
you can see the red bar graph. At slow speeds with ESP off a big red
bar indicates a good chance you’re soon headed for the nearest piece of
civil engineering.


Official
European figures put average fuel consumption at 14.0 liters/100 km
(`16.8 mpg) with urban around 12 mpg and “highway” in the very low 20s.
Our example, run to speed limits where they applied and with a good
deal of abandon where they didn’t averaged exactly the 14.0l/100 km
over more than 1700 kilometers and 10 days. Few of us that could afford
the car would be concerned about fuel economy, but is nice to know you
can have a family rennwagen and perfectly viable alternative to a light
aircraft without four people using excessive resources.
When a
German publication lined up the planets with an RS6 Avant, BMW M5
Touring and Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG wagon the resulting subjective
scoring put the Benz ahead of the Audi 421 points to 418…but the
Mercedes had a four-point advantage in cargo because of the upright
hatch.
We would choose to squeeze the bags.
This
particular example was tested in Europe and therefore carried nearly a
page of optional equipment which added about 13,500 euros to the tab
before taxes: 20x9.5 alloys, power door closers and hatch, phone,
navigation, HomeLink, power tilt/tele wheel, advanced parking, etc. If
an RS6 ever comes to North America (and we aren’t holding our breath
for this one) expect most of these to be standard equipment with
options limited to adaptive cruise, rear side airbags and so on.


_________________

LhYnxz
Site Administrator
Site Administrator

Number of posts : 485
Age : 37
Location : Bayamon, PR
Reputation : 0
Points : 30
Registration date : 2007-12-01

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