Audi’s 2016 RS6 Avant and 2006 RS4 Avant gather for a fast blast of dragon-wagon firepower.
RS4’s 4.2-litre V8 revs with heart and generates honest horsepower; RS6’s biturbo 4-litre V8 (top, right) is a Teutonic atomic powerplant.
WHEN I order car-themed T-shirts online from the US, I always tick “Standard” for the shipping option. That’s the slowest, taking two to three weeks, but it’s also the lowest in price. “Expedited” is faster, requiring one to two weeks, but it’s costlier, which would greatly reduce any savings from the online shopping. “Express” is the fastest, sending my package to me in a matter of days, but it’s expensive enough to make my new tees, well, too expensive for me.
The two German wagons gathered here are meant for express delivery – extremely express. With these speedy machines doing the shipping, goods go ballistic between the warehouse and wherever your house is. And the larger wagon of the two, the RS6, can carry plenty of goods, or groceries, or luggage, or flat-packed furniture, or a fully grown German Shepherd. Or possibly all of these, plus a kitchen sink.
The boot of the RS6 Avant off ers a powered tailgate and 565 litres of cargo space, expandable to a cavernous 1680 litres with the backseat folded. The boot of the RS4 Avant is evenly shaped but less spacious, with 442 litres expandable to a maximum of 1354 litres, so it has to leave the sink behind, guarded by the German Shepherd. Delivering the goods, in more ways than one, are the V8 engines of these Deutschland dragon-wagons.
RS4 cockpit is much simpler, with three pedals and a manual gearbox; RS6 cockpit (top) bristles with bells and whistles.
The RS6 is powered by a supercar-grade 4-litre twinturbo V8 with a punchy 560bhp and a whopping 700Nm, while the RS4 is powered by a rorty 4.2-litre naturally aspirated V8 with a lusty 420bhp and 430Nm.
The transmission of the RS6 is an 8-speed automatic that’s slick and quick, while the RS4 relies on a good old 6-speed manual gearbox, which is also slick between the gates/ratios, but it can only be as quick as the driver performing the gearchanges. Even an average manual operator like me can easily enjoy way-above-average acceleration in the RS4, thanks to its positive clutch action and straightforward gearlever “handwork”.
Engaging the 1-2-3-4-5- 6 cogs is as simple as ABC, stretching the engine is elementary, and steering the vehicle confidently is no harder than learning the automotive alphabet – A for Audi, B for brisk, C for car, D for damn fast… The RS4 races from a standstill to 100km/h in a bit under 5 seconds, just one second behind the RS6. Both V8s sound great, but the motor in the RS4 is rawer and perhaps more real.
The RS6 engine roars as its tacho needle soars and it’s racy from the get-go, whereas the RS4 needs a few thousand revs before it really goes racing
on the road. The RS6 V8’s midrange oomph is orgasmic, and it’s a full-blown hammer blow compared to the RS4’s hard hit with a smaller hammer. The tool analogy can also be used to describe the two cars’ difference in handling. The RS6 accelerates, grips and corners like the vehicular equivalent of Thor and his sledgehammer – mythical, eff ective and dramatic, but detached (from hand) at times. The RS4 is more like Hellboy and his right hand – it grabs, smashes and bashes, but is always connected to the body and literally close at hand.
When all the hammering is done, the RS6 can calm down and cruise like a wagon limo, but the RS4 cannot, preferring to remain in a dragon’s danger zone somewhere between fiery and restless. The newer Avant has a huge advantage in power, torque and powertrain technology, but also has an equally huge disadvantage in weight – at over 1.9 tonnes, the RS6 is almost 300kg heavier than the RS4, which has a lot less metal to move and far fewer features.
The RS6 is ridiculously wellequipped compared to the RS4. The new number bristles with bells and whistles, whereas the old number (the yellow unit on these pages was registered in 2007) has nothing fancier than a pair of bucket seats, digital climate control, “Audi symphony” hi-fi, leather upholstery, carbon fibre trim, milled aluminium accents and a sunroof. There’s also a suggestive “S” button on the steering wheel.
Apparently, pressing that button would inflate the side bolsters of the driver’s seat, make the throttle response more spontaneous and liberate naughtier notes from the vocal exhaust system. It plays up the S in RS4, I guess. The RS6 has many more buttons and functions. I could adjust the seat to exactly how I like it, modify the drivetrain’s behaviour (between mild, wild and wilder), tweak the adaptive air suspension, experience infinite forms of infotainment, see very well from behind the wheel (with the Audi’s Matrix LED headlights and various cameras), and even let the car park itself.
After this fast blast of dragonwagon firepower, spouted from Audi’s current RS6 and defunct RS4, my next online order of car-themed T-shirts might be via “Express” shipping.
Delivering the goods, in more ways than one, are the v8 engines of these deutschland dragon-wagons.