Audi Celebrates 20 Years of the RS 6

4 Gens of RS 6

Audi celebrates the 20th anniversary of the iconic RS 6 with a look back at the previous generations and a look forward to 2022.

Twenty years ago Audi launched the RS 6. More than just a competitor to the BMW M5, it is a car for all road conditions. Configured as a sedan or wagon (Avant) it combines sports car performance with everyday practicality. Truly a car for all occasions, the RS 6 is not only the ultimate car in Audi’s midsize lineup but the zenith of what a midsize car can be.

The formula has remained consistent across the years. Take the Audi A6, add obscene amounts of horsepower and all-wheel-drive, and go hunting for Porsches. There’s more to it than that of course – Audi has a secret sauce that includes Dynamic Ride Control and other features which keeps the wheels planted and provides a comfortable ride.

What’s your favorite RS 6 generation?
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2002 to 2004 Audi RS 6 (C5)

2002 RS 6 Avant

Highlights:

  • 4.2-liter V8 jointly developed by Audi GmbH and Cosworth
  • First car with Audi’s Dynamic Ride Control (DRC)
  • Won the North American SPEED World Challenge GT Series in 2002, 2003, and 2004

Looking to infuse the spirit of the RS 4  into the A6, Audi stuffed a 444-horsepower twin-turbo 4.2 liter V8 under the hood. Paired with a 5-speed automatic Tiptronic gearbox and Audi’s Dynamic Ride Control the result was explosive performance. 0 to 60 mph took only 4.7 seconds on the way to a 167 mph “limited” top speed. More impressively is how DRC reduced roll and pitch in performance driving. Not only could the RS 6 compete with the BMW M5, Jaguar S-Type R, and Mercedes AMG E55, but was unmatched in all-weather driving.

To showcase the RS 6, Audi took it racing. At the hands of Randy Pobst, it won the SPEED World Challenge GT Series in three successive years. But while its performance capabilities and racing pedigree are successful, it’s the refinement of the whole car that makes it special.

2008 to 2010 Audi RS 6 (C6)

2008 RS 6 & RS 6 Avant

Highlights:

  • 5.0-liter V10 with dry-sump lubrication
  • First RS with adjustable shock absorbers
  • Limited run of 500 RS 6 plus Sport & Audi RS 6 plus Exclusive

Audi followed up the C5 RS 6 with the C6 in 2008. Setting its sights again on the M5, the company took the Audi R8’s V10 and bumped the horsepower to 571. As a result, 0-60 mph times dropped to 4.5 seconds and the car could reach 188 mph on the track. Unlike the subdued twin-turbo V8 in the previous RS 6, the new car’s V10 made feral noises to go with its power.

More impressively, handling improved from the C5. Audi retained the DRC suspension and added adjustable shock absorbers allowing the ride to be changed using one of three settings. Now the driver could select a softer setting for comfort, a firm setting for performance, or a middle setting somewhere in between those extremes.

2013 to 2018 Audi RS 6 (C7)

2013 RS 6

Highlights:

  • 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8
  • First RS with fully automatic air suspension and cylinder deactivation
  • Performance model produces 603-horsepower

For the C7 Audi dialed back the crazy, returning to the twin-turbo V8. The move was regarded as a step back by enthusiasts but more in step with the times. But even the worse critics were silenced by the performance. Reduced weight thru the use of more aluminum and a retuned V8 in the Performance model increased horsepower to 603 and dropped 0-60 mph times to 3.7 seconds. The new 8-speed Tiptronic gearbox not only aided in this performance but combined with cylinder-deactivation, provided significantly improved fuel economy.

What stands out about the C7 Audi RS 6 is the level of refinement when compared to the first two generations. It’s every bit as capable as the older cars and then some. But it’s also comfortable and familiar and more user-friendly. The air suspension works magic providing a pleasant ride in the soft setting and going full-on track ready in performance mode.

2022 Audi RS 6 (C8)

2022 RS 6 Avant

Highlights:

  • Unique RS 6 only styling
  • 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8
  • 48-volt mild hybrid system and rear-axle steering

You wouldn’t be blamed if you thought of the 2022 Audi RS 6 as a refined and improved version of the C7. The V8 engine stayed at 4.0 liters of displacement. Performance numbers are similar as well – 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 190 mph. But what those numbers don’t tell you is how much better the car actually is to drive. Not only does the current RS 6 feel more capable at hunting down a Porsche 911 in any weather conditions, but it’s much more liveable every day.

It also looks different. Unlike previous generations of the RS 6 which had flared fenders and revised front and rear end facias, the new RS 6 has a different body. Every panel except for the doors and roof is unique to the RS 6. Yet it retains the same aesthetics as the older cars. Because regardless of the year and generation, each RS 6 is clearly related because of how it looks and how it drives. It is still one of the most capable performance cars in any driving condition and still at the zenith of what a midsize car can be.

Photos: Audi USA

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Mark Webb is fascinated by anything automotive and particularly loves cars that are unusual or have a good story. He’s owned a variety of cars from 60’s muscle, Japanese imports, and oddities like a VW Thing and Porsche 924. After 20 years in the automotive and tech industries, he’s a walking encyclopedia of car info and is always on the lookout for his next project or a good road trip.

Family Squabbles: RS 3 vs RS 5 vs RS 6 Avant!

Audi RS 3 vs Audi RS 6 vs Audi RS 5

What was to have been a three-way drag and roll battle between RS trio goes astray when supposedly detuned RS 6 Avant arrives tuned to 11.

Which Audi RS is Best Audi RS? It’s a question that’s hard to answer. After all, some are happy with the RS 3’s small size and performance. Others, meanwhile, might need the room an RS 6 Avant or RS Q8 offer to go with the performance. Even the midsize RS 5 and RS 7 Sportback bring their own reasons for existing to the performance table. It’s truly hard to choose the overall best from the best.

YouTuber Sam CarLegion recently attempted to answer that question in a three-way battle between the RS 3, the RS 5, and the RS 6 Avant. However, the biggest of the bunch brought a shotgun when it was supposed to bring a knife to the fight.

Audi RS 3 vs Audi RS 6 vs Audi RS 5

“This one is quite interesting,” said Sam. “It’s a bit scary, too, because I haven’t done that many high-performance cars […] I kind of have an idea of who is going to win this, but I might be wrong, because I’ve been wrong before. We’re just here to have fun, but we also find out how these things are against each other.”

Sam’s bet, of course, is on the RS 6 Avant. After all, it packs 591 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque to the corners. However, you might’ve noticed the BHP stat on the Audi reading as “unknown.” That’s because the white whale had a tune, one that was supposed to be flashed back to OEM prior to the meeting.

About that…

Audi RS 3 vs Audi RS 6 vs Audi RS 5

“The reason the RS 6 is that fast is because it’s tuned,” Sam writes above. “I was told that the car would be returned to stock engine for this video, but it evidently wasn’t.”

In response to a comment, Sam says he didn’t know it was still tuned until the end of the day. Thus, the real battle was between the RS 3 and RS 5 Sportback. In normal mode, the lighter RS 3 pulls away on the first and second runs. Once Sam learns how to make the most of the RS 5, though, he takes the third run in full sport mode. The fourth drag and single roll runs, however, belong to the RS 3.

Audi RS 3 vs Audi RS 6 vs Audi RS 5

“Looking at the video and all that, I think the RS 6 is definitely tuned,” said Sam. “It makes a lot more horsepower than these two, which technically doesn’t make it a fair video. I wasted my money and my time […] people weren’t honest with me.”

We’d love to see this battle again, but this time with an honest RS 6 Avant owner. That guy didn’t need to flex so hard, after all; his rig would’ve been enough without the tune installed.

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Cameron Aubernon’s path to automotive journalism began in the early New ’10s. Back then, a friend of hers thought she was an independent fashion blogger.

Aubernon wasn’t, so she became one, covering fashion in her own way for the next few years.

From there, she’s written for: Louisville.com/Louisville Magazine, Insider Louisville, The Voice-Tribune/The Voice, TOPS Louisville, Jeffersontown Magazine, Dispatches Europe, The Truth About Cars, Automotive News, Yahoo Autos, RideApart, Hagerty, and Street Trucks.

Aubernon also served as the editor-in-chief of a short-lived online society publication in Louisville, Kentucky, interned at the city’s NPR affiliate, WFPL-FM, and was the de facto publicist-in-residence for a communal art space near the University of Louisville.

Aside from her contributions to Audi World, Aubernon can be found all through the IB Auto Group family, including 6 Speed Online, LS1Tech, and Team Speed. She also has her own independent automotive blog, Aubernon Highway.

Aubernon can be reached through her public Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts. She is wary of those she doesn’t already know, though; thus, she may not respond to messages sent.

Aubernon is a member of the International Motor Press Association, and the Washington Automotive Press Association.

RS 6 Avant Leaves Golf R in the Dust and the Wind

Audi RS 6 Avant vs Volkswagen Golf R

One’s a hot hatch. The other’s a hot wagon. However, the inter-family rivalry is one-sided in heavy favor of the monster RS 6 Avant.

Need to haul the whole family around, but don’t want a crossover? The Audi RS 6 Avant is the best answer. Not only do you and yours get tons of room for the kids and groceries, there’s also the big V8 with 591 horses to get you to all the after-school happenings in a flash. Why settle for anything else?

However, there’s another option out there for those who prefer compact hatches: the Volkswagen Golf R. The 2.0-liter turbo-four slams down 315 horses on its way to IKEA. Yet, Archie Hamilton learns that while the VAG wins the whole comparison, the little Golf is no match for the behemoth RS 6 Avant.

Audi RS 6 Avant vs Volkswagen Golf R

“It is Golf R versus RS 6 time,” said Hamilton. “How is this Golf R gonna do? I’ve got no idea. But what I do know is that this car matched an A 45 S. So I decided, ‘Let’s put it up against the daddy of all daddies of dailies, the Audi RS 6. Let’s see how it gets on for me. This is all about how much can it keep up with the RS 6.”

As it would turn out for Hamilton, not at all. Though he knew it would lose to the RS 6 Avant, the monster wagon left the Golf R far behind. On both pulls, the Audi stole the show and then some, proving that four more cylinders paired with a turbo will always beast all over a turbo-four. Perhaps a rolling start may even things up. Right?

Audi RS 6 Avant vs Volkswagen Golf R

“I messed it up,” said James Exton. “That wasn’t great, I must be honest. But now, I’m pulling straight ahead […] There’s no doubt about it: the RS 6 still in gear speed is quicker, but that’s no surprise. Bigger engine, isn’t it? More power.”

On both 30-mph rolls, the RS 6 Avant swept its baby cousin. Not even with Exton’s twin, Tom Exton, cheating by jumping the line on the second roll could stop the Audi’s dominance.

Audi RS 6 Avant vs Volkswagen Golf R

“The moral of the story on this one is that the Golf R couldn’t really keep up,” said Hamilton.

Perhaps an RS 3 might be more the Golf R’s speed?

Click HERE to join the AudiWorld forums!

Cameron Aubernon’s path to automotive journalism began in the early New ’10s. Back then, a friend of hers thought she was an independent fashion blogger.

Aubernon wasn’t, so she became one, covering fashion in her own way for the next few years.

From there, she’s written for: Louisville.com/Louisville Magazine, Insider Louisville, The Voice-Tribune/The Voice, TOPS Louisville, Jeffersontown Magazine, Dispatches Europe, The Truth About Cars, Automotive News, Yahoo Autos, RideApart, Hagerty, and Street Trucks.

Aubernon also served as the editor-in-chief of a short-lived online society publication in Louisville, Kentucky, interned at the city’s NPR affiliate, WFPL-FM, and was the de facto publicist-in-residence for a communal art space near the University of Louisville.

Aside from her contributions to Audi World, Aubernon can be found all through the IB Auto Group family, including 6 Speed Online, LS1Tech, and Team Speed. She also has her own independent automotive blog, Aubernon Highway.

Aubernon can be reached through her public Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts. She is wary of those she doesn’t already know, though; thus, she may not respond to messages sent.

Aubernon is a member of the International Motor Press Association, and the Washington Automotive Press Association.