German tuner cooked up something special for the high-performance wagon

Estate sedans, or station wagons as they’re otherwise referred to, have often been perceived as family cars. But over the past few years, an influx of high-performance wagons have invaded the market. One of these models is the Audi RS6, which packs, among other things, a 4.0-liter TFSI V8 engine that spits out 560 horsepower and 517 pound-feet of torque. Impressive, right? Well, that depends on who you ask because if that question was posed to ABT Sportsline, the answer would be “not quite.”

The German tuner maybe impressed with the RS6 Avant, but as a company that has been around for 120 years, it’s predisposed to always think of ways to make the car better. Sure enough, ABT Sportsline did just that when it presented its latest tuning program for the RS6 Avant at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show.

The kit is typical of what you’d expect to come from ABT Sportsline. It has an aerodynamic package, dressed up interior, new set of wheels, and most importantly, an engine upgrade that puts the wagon’s power output into the realm of today’s supercars. It seems weird to think that a wagon is capable of mind-numbing performance numbers, but given that Audi already gave it a V-8 engine, it would’ve been an even bigger surprise if ABT Sportsline left the engine alone.

Ultimately, this RS6 Avant is so far removed from the perceptions attributed to station wagons that you might as well treat it as a supercar hiding in a wagon’s clothing. The only downside is that the German tuner is only building 12 of these babies to commemorate its 120th anniversary. Seems a little low for a car with some historical ties, right?

Continue after the jump to read the full review.

  • 2016 Audi RS6 Avant by ABT Sportsline
  • Year:
    2016
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V8
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    735
  • Torque @ RPM:
    679
  • Displacement:
    4.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    4 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    199 mph
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2016 Audi RS6 Avant by ABT Sportsline High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Audi RS6 Avant by ABT Sportsline High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Audi RS6 Avant by ABT Sportsline High Resolution Exterior
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An aerodynamic kit made from carbon fiber can be seen throughout the body of the wagon

The exterior of the Audi RS6 Avant may look the same from a distance, but when you look at it closely, you’ll notice a wealth of upgrades made to the car’s exterior. An aerodynamic kit made from carbon fiber can be seen throughout the body of the wagon. In the front, the German tuner installed carbon fiber exposed air inlet panels on the sides of the intakes and front flics.

The standard side mirrors have also been replaced with carbon fiber versions and the rear section received a rear spoiler. All of these carbon fiber additions aren’t just made for cosmetic purposes. They serve a variety of functions, including improving the car’s downforce and the flow of air running along the body. Rounding out the exterior upgrades is a new set of 22-inch alloy wheels wrapped in Dunlop performance tires.

Interior

2016 Audi RS6 Avant by ABT Sportsline High Resolution Interior
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ABT Sportsline normally doesn’t do lavish interior upgrades, but since this program is limited to just 12 units, an understandable exception was made. To distinguish it from other programs, the German tuner dressed up the RS6 Avant’s cabin with bi-color leather seats. The headliner, pillars, and tailgate were all wrapped in Alcantara, and a combination of the two was used on the dashboard, door panels, and steering wheel. Finishing off the cabin modifications are nods to its limited edition status. The glove compartment, for instance, features a “1/12” signet while the floor mats – an ABT Sportsline favorite – comes with “120 years” lettering.

Drivetrain

2016 Audi RS6 Avant by ABT Sportsline High Resolution Drivetrain
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Top speed has been increased to 199 mph

At the heart of this limited edition program is an engine upgrade that takes the RS6 Avant’s power and performance capabilities to a whole new stratosphere. The tuner didn’t elaborate on its methods, opting only to say that used a specially developed ECU unit to help the wagon’s 4.0-liter V-8 engine increase its output by 175 ponies and 162 pound-feet of twist, bringing its total to 735 horsepower and 679 pound-feet of torque. ABT Sportsline didn’t specify the wagon’s 0-to-60-mph time with the massive engine upgrade, but it did say that the top speed has been increased to 199 mph, significantly more than the 189-mph top speed of the standard RS6 Avant. The difference actually puts the wagon’s new top speed in the range of some of today’s supercars.

Pricing

2016 Audi RS6 Avant by ABT Sportsline High Resolution Exterior
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No pricing details were offered, but we do know that ABT Sportsline is only building 12 programs. That means that on top of the obvious exclusivity attached to this particular RS6 Avant, it’s also expected to come with a hefty price tag. The base version of the RS6 Avant costs £79,085, which amounts to about $112,250 based on current exchange rates. Add that amount to the program itself and the total could reach somewhere in the vicinity of $180,000. Sadly, acquiring any of the 12 units of this limited edition RS6 Avant could be more difficult considering the model itself isn’t available in the U.S.

Competition

Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake

2015 Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake High Resolution Exterior
- image 543363

Tuning programs for high-performance wagons like the RS6 Avant are few and far between. So in lieu of the lack of kits for this segment, let’s focus on the actual competitors for the Audi wagon. One is the Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake, the wagon version of the XFR-S sedan. To Jag’s credit, it spared no expense in giving the XFR-S Sportbrake an attractive design. The red grille logo, the aggressive nose, and those large intakes are all part of the wagon’s front section. R-S badges also adorn the entire body, signifying the special variant of the model.

On the performance front, the XFR-S is no slouch. It uses the same supercharged, 5.0-liter V-8 engine just like its sedan counterpart. That’s good enough to produce 543 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of torque, enough to propel it from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds, while top speed is listed at 186 mph. These numbers are slightly down from the RS6 Avant’s own set of times, but the differences aren’t so glaring to make the Audi vastly superior to the Jag.

Read our full review on the Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake here.

Mercedes-AMG E63 Estate

2010 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Estate
- image 320657

The other direct competitor is considered the class of the high-performance wagon segment. While the RS6 Avant and the XFR-S Sportbrake are coming on themselves, both still have to deal with the Mercedes E63 AMG Estate. The current E63 AMG had the distinction of being the first model to use AMG’s current design language.That means that it proudly carries the AMG "twin blade" radiator grille in silver chrome. It also has a new AMG front apron with new, three-dimensional air deflector spans and an "A-wing" that is offered in the same color as the body and featuring a trim strip in silver chrome.

The E63 AMG Estate uses a 5.5-liter biturbo V-8 engine that pumps out 550 horsepower and 531 pound-feet of torque. That’s a little less than what the RS6 Avant is capable of, but again, the differences aren’t that big to warrant a significant advantage for the Audi. In fact, the E63 AMG is actually faster to 60 mph than the RS6 Avant with a time of just 3.6 seconds. That said, the RS6 Avant flips the script in terms of top speed as the Mercedes only has an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.

Read our full review on the Mercedes-AMG E63 Estate here.

Conclusion

2016 Audi RS6 Avant by ABT Sportsline High Resolution Exterior
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I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a real big fan of wagons. The elongated body and the flat rear end doesn’t cut it for me. But I’m honest enough to admit that this particular program impresses the heck out of me. I honestly don’t know what I like more – the look or the performance capabilities – but everything about it, right down to the interior and the exclusivity, speaks to the kind of status ABT Sportsline has achieved in the 120 years it has been around. For a company to have been around that long and still has the ability to build limited edition cars like this is a testament to the German tuner’s longevity and, more importantly, its taste of what constitutes a world-class tuning build.

  • Leave it
    • * Not cheap
    • * Is it enough to debunk the wagon stigma?
    • * Availability is an issue
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