Audi’s resident giant killer comes to the U.S. with impressive V-8 power

The 2020 Audi RS6 Avant is the range-topping version of Audi’s midsize wagon, the A6 Avant. Arguably the most iconic RS model, the RS6 Avant returns with a brand-new exterior and is more powerful than ever. Unlike its predecessor, it’s no longer entirely based on the A6, as it borrows front fascia elements from the A7 and the R8. The 2020 RS6 Avant is also the first of its kind to feature a hybrid drivetrain thanks to a 48-volt system. Granted, it’s not a full-fledged hybrid, but it’s an essential step toward electrification. Unlike its predecessors, the 2020 Audi RS6 Avant will be offered in the United States.

  • 2020 Audi RS6 Avant
  • Year:
    2020
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V8
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    592
  • Torque @ RPM:
    590
  • Displacement:
    4.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    3.6 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    155 mph
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • size:
  • Purpose:
  • body style:
  • Overall:
    8.3/10

Audi RS6 Avant Exterior

  • Front fascia from RS7
  • Thin headlamps
  • R8-inspired bumper
  • Beefed-up engine hood
  • Wider fender flares
  • Large wheels
  • Sporty side skirts
  • Dark trim
  • Aggressive rear diffuser
  • Larger tailgate spoiler
2020 Audi RS6 Avant Exterior
- image 888645
While previous RS6 Avant models were mostly beefed-up A6 Avants on the outside, Audi took a different approach for this generation.

Specifically, instead of upgrading the front fascia of the A6 with a sportier bumper and grille, the Germans transplanted the entire front fascia from the RS7. This is a big deal as the RS7 is an entirely different car design-wise.

For starters, the headlamps are much thinner, and their outer sections are no longer thicker than the inner part. They also feature a different LED pattern with thin light bars and square "points" at the top. The grille is also different on the RS7, featuring sharper corners and a body-colored frame. The honeycomb grille s similar to other RS models, but there’s an extra vent at the top of the grille.

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The bumper is also a carbon copy of the RS7. It features triangular vents at the corner, which are actually based on those of the R8 supercar.

The massive grille leaves room for a very thin center vent between the lower frame and the splitter, just like on the RS7.

The engine hood was also sourced from the RS7, and it’s notably more aggressive than the regular A6. While the latter sports only two character lines toward the edge, the RS6’s also include an extra pair of lines toward the center. These character lines form a cool power dome.

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Audi brags that the RS6 Avant’s profile is completely different from the regular Avant save for the front doors, but the reality is that most upgrades are actually mild. New features that catch the eye include the more aggressive side skirts with black inserts, larger, 21-inch wheels, and wider fender flares. Other than that and the gloss-black trim on the lower mirror caps and the window frames, the remaining design features are shared with the A6 Avant.

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The rear end is obviously based on the A6 Avant and sports the same features from the roof to the lower edge of the tailgate. However, we can notice a larger spoiler atop the tailgate and a gloss-black strip (instead of chrome) between the taillights. There’s also an "RS6" badge on the lower left side of the tailgate. But the bumper is a completely different story. Instead of the simple, utilitarian bumper specific to wagons, the RS6 features an apron that’s been cut out almost entirely to make room for a honeycomb grille with an aluminum insert that runs at the bottom in the center and then raises above and around the massive, oval exhaust pipes. This feature also comes from the RS7.

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Needless to say, the RS6 Avant looks hotter than ever and the RS7 front fascia sets it apart in the lineup.

Sure, we could argue that an RS6 Avant with an RS7 front end diluted both nameplates, but it’s not such a big deal since the A7 line doesn’t include a wagon. If anything, Audi simply merged the midsize RS models to include a sedan, a wagon, and a sleeker four-door coupe.

Audi RS6 Avant Interior

  • Similar to regular A6 Avant
  • 12.3-inch instrument cluster
  • 10.1-inch infotainment display
  • Sleek, clean dashboard
  • Flat-bottom steering wheel
  • Aluminum paddle shifters
  • Sports seats
  • Valcona leather
  • Extra RS-specific features
  • RS badges
  • Large trunk
2020 Audi RS6 Avant Interior
- image 888581

While some of the exterior is based on the RS7, the interior of the RS6 Avant is actually based, as expected, on the A6. But that’s also because the A6 and A7 share the same interior layout.

Both cars were redesigned from the ground up for the 2019 model year, so the interior is quite fresh. The layout is minimalist, but it also looks stylish and high-tech. The continuous air-vent strip seen in other Audi models was added in A6 too, but there’s also a thick dashboard insert that adds class and enhances the luxurious look. This black trim element incorporates the massive, 10.1-inch infotainment display that gives you access to most of the car’s features. A second display mounted below measures 8.6 inches and gives access to climate controls, comfort functions, and enables text input.

The new, fully digital, 12.3-inch instrument cluster looks imposing from behind the steering wheel.

While this feature doesn’t come standard on the regular A6, it’s included in the package on the RS model.

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So is there any element that sets the RS6 Avant apart from the regular model here? For starters, the regular chrome trim was replaced with matte and brushed, darker aluminum. There’s also a flat-bottom steering wheel wrapped in perforated leather and fitted with large shift paddles made from aluminum. The steering wheel also includes buttons for the RS1 and RS2 modes.

The RS6 Avant is also fitted with an “RS Monitor” display that gives you the option to see an overview of the temperature status of the drive components, the maximum G acceleration figures, and info on tire pressure and temperature in the top display. There’s also a shift light display that prompts you to upshift when the maximum engine speed is reached.

2020 Audi RS6 Avant Interior
- image 888652
The A6 is already a well-appointed car in standard trim, but the RS package takes things to a whole new level with extra premium features.

The seats, which are sportier than usual, come wrapped in high-quality Valcona leather. It includes a honeycomb pattern and "RS" embossing. The perforated leather also allows for ventilation features, which is a first for this model. It’s also fitted with RS-branded, illuminated door sills and a handful of "RS6" logos, including one on the dashboard. The cool thing is that the upholstery is no longer all black. The presentation model shows a brown finish for the leather, a good option if you like livelier, lighter interiors.

But you can also opt for different options, like an air quality package, the ionizer, and adaptive windshield wiper with integrated washer jets in the wiper blades.

When it comes to dimensions and passenger comfort, the cabin is a bit more spacious than before. Audi claims that it provides more front and rear elbow room as well as more rear knee room than the competition. Speaking of that, the rear-seat bench comes with the same split-folding function in a 40:20:40 layout.

2020 Audi RS6 Avant Interior
- image 888583

Luggage room is rated at 20 cubic-feet with the rear seats up and 59.3 cubic-feet with the seats folded flat. That’s plenty of room for a midsize wagon, and even though it’s not an upgrade from the old model, it still puts the RS6 Avant on par with the competition. The Mercedes-AMG E63 Wagon provides 20.5 cubic feet with the rear seats in place, only a half cubic foot more. With the seats folded flat, the Merc provides 57.4 cubic feet, a 1.9 decrease from the Audi. BMW doesn’t offer an M version of the 5 Series Touring, but this wagon offers similar space behind the second-row seats at 20 cubic feet. Capacity increase to 60 cubic feet with the rear seats folded flat, but that’s only 0.7 cubic feet more than the Audi.

While the trunk isn’t bigger than the old RS6 Avant, it features a wider loading area. Now measuring 41.3 inches, it’s 0.55 inches wider than before. The tailgate and the luggage compartment cover open electrically, and the trunk is fitted with Audi’s rail system as standard, giving you the option to individually position four variable lashing points to secure objects. There’s also a tensioning strap, a net, and two hooks.

2020 Audi RS6 Avant Interior
- image 888584

For added utility, you can order an optional swiveling trailer towing hitch with an electric release function. Audi also offers a camera-based trailer assist function that helps you when reversing and driving with a trailer.

Audi RS6 Avant Drivetrain

  • Twin-turbo, 4.0 V-8
  • 592 horsepower
  • 590 pound-feet of torque
  • 0 to 62 in 3.6 seconds
  • Top speed at 155 mph
  • On par with the competition
  • 8-speed automatic
  • Quattro all-wheel drive
  • 48-volt system
  • Mild hybrid
2020 Audi RS6 Avant Drivetrain
- image 888615

Just like its predecessor, the RS6 Avant features a twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V-8 engine. However, this is a brand-new unit. More importantly, it’s a mild hybrid because it works in conjunction with a 48-volt, starter-alternator system.

The mill is rated at an impressive 592 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque.

That’s a notable upgrade from the old model, which came with 553 horses and 516 pound-feet on tap. So the new wagon benefits from an extra 39 horses and 74 pound-feet. However, Audi also offered a Performance version of the previous RS6 Avant, which came with 597 horses and 553 pound-feet. This means that even though the new wagon boasts an extra 37 pound-feet, it falls behind by five horsepower. It’s not much, but it means that the current-generation RS6 Avant isn’t the most powerful model. But Audi will probably release a new Performance variant soon, so things will change.

When it comes to performance, the RS6 Avant is quite the quick grocery getter. The German wagon hits 62 mph in an impressive 3.6 seconds, and Audi claims that the 0 to 124 mph benchmark is achieved in less than 12 clicks. From 0 to 62 mph, the new RS6 Avant is three tenths quicker than the old model and a tenth-second faster than the old Performance model. So despite not being as powerful, the new wagon is a tad quicker. Top speed remains locked at 155 mph, just like the old model, but Audi will offer a special package that should increase the speed you can reach to about 190 mph. Mighty impressive for a wagon.

So how does it compare to its main rival, the Mercedes-AMG E63? Well, it’s on par with the range-topping S version, the only one available in the U.S. Also powered by a twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V-8, the E63 S pumps out 603 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of twist. That’s an extra 11 horses and 37 pound-feet. Naturally, the Merc is a tad quicker to 62 mph, needing 3.5 seconds to get there. Although not available in the U.S., Mercedes also offers a non S model that features the same engine but rated at 563 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of twist. The Audi comes on top with an extra 29 horses and 37 pound-feet, and it’s also a tenth-second quicker to 62 mph. The AMG E63 S is limited to a superior-top speed of 186 mph as standard.

But the RS6 Avant stands out through other features like the 48-volt system. This electric starter-alternator turns the wagon into a mild hybrid that has the ability to recover up to 12 kW of power during deceleration. This is stored in a separate lithium-ion battery for later use. But this feature doesn’t work at all times. It’s activated only when you lift off the accelerator at speeds between 34 and 99 mph. This also enables you to coast for up to 40 seconds. As soon as you touch the gas pedal, the starter-alternator restarts the engine. A start/stop feature is also integrated into the 48-volt system.

2020 Audi RS6 Avant Drivetrain
- image 888624

Audi claims that the mild hybrid combo enables fuel savings of up to 0.8 liters per 100 km in everyday driving, but actual estimates for the U.S. market aren’t yet available.

The V-8 engine also integrates a cylinder deactivation features. It works at low to intermediate loads when cylinders two, three, five, and eight are deactivated, and the engine becomes a four-cylinder. The cylinders are reactivated instantly when more load is needed.

The transmission in charge with sending all the power to the wheels is the familiar eight-speed Tiptronic available across the lineup.

But this unit was revised specifically for this model to deliver quicker shift times and fitted with a new Launch Control function for proper acceleration. It also connects to a permanent Quattro all-wheel-drive system and a mechanical center differential with a 40:60 split toward the rear years as a default setting. The differential is also able to send up to 70 percent of torque to the front wheels and up to 85 percent to the rear axle. The customizable RS1 and RS2 modes, available through the Audi Drive Select feature, will enable you to pick between a more balanced setup or one that focuses on full performance.

2020 Audi RS6 Avant Drivetrain
- image 888614

Finally, the RS6 Avant boasts Audi’s latest wheel-selective torque control feature, which optimizes handling by braking the wheels with reduced load on the inside of a bend just before they can begin to spin. The sport differential shifts the drive torque when cornering at speed as required between the rear wheels, thus improving traction, stability, and dynamics.

Audi RS6 Avant Suspension and Brakes

2020 Audi RS6 Avant Drivetrain
- image 888609

The suspension layout of the RS6 Avant is largely similar to that of the standard model. The front and rear axles use a five-link design that handles longitudinal and transverse forces separately, while the subframes are made from aluminum. However, the RS6 Avant rides on wider tracks that measure 65.6 inches in the front and 65 inches in the rear. It also sits 0.8 inches lower than the standard A6 Avant.

Go past 74 mph, and the ride height will drop by another 0.4 inches for a total change of 1.2 inches compared to the standard wagon. However, if you need to drive on bumpy roads or over speed bumps, a lift mode will raise the RS6 Avant at the same level as the regular wagon.

2020 Audi RS6 Avant Drivetrain
- image 888611

The RS6 Avant is fitted standard with 21-inch aluminum wheels wrapped in all season. Optionally, you can go with RS-specific wheels in 22-inch V-spoke. Stopping power comes from newly developed RS ceramic brakes that weigh around 75 pounds less than the regular steel brakes.

Audi RS6 Avant Prices

2020 Audi RS6 Avant Exterior
- image 888592

Although it’s already available in Europe, Audi has yet to release pricing information for the RS6 Avant in the U.S. The wagon starts from £92,750 in the U.K., which accounts for a 123.6 percent premium over the standard A6 Avant. But the latter isn’t sold in the U.S., so we need to look at the A6 Allroad to figure out an approximate sticker. In the U.K., the RS6 Avant commands a 70 percent premium over the A6 Allroad. The Allroad comes in at $65,900, so it’s safe to assume that the RS6 Avant will cost at least $110,000 before options. This sticker puts it on par with the range-topping Mercedes-AMG E63 S Wagon, priced from $111,750.

2019 Audi RS6 Avant Competition

Mercedes-AMG E63 S Wagon

2018 Mercedes-AMG E 63 S Wagon High Resolution Exterior
- image 704131

If you’re looking for the most direct threat to the Audi RS6 Avant, look no further than the wagon version of the Mercedes-AMG E63 S. Revealed in 2017, the E63 S Wagon can give the RS6 Avant a serious run for its money. It’s not necessarily better suited for offering luxury and tech goodies to its customers, but it packs a bit more punch. It’s also powered by a twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V-8, but it comes with 603 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque on tap. That’s a minor 11 horsepower and 37 pound-feet more than the RS6 Avant. The extra oomph enables the AMG to hit 62 mph a tenth-second quicker than the Audi, with the benchmark rated at 3.5 seconds. Pricing for the Mercedes-AMG E63 S starts from $111,750.

Read our full story on the 2020 Mercedes-AMG E63 S Wagon

BMW M5 Touring

2019 BMW M5 Touring Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
- image 685431

BMW hasn’t offered a wagon version of the M5 since 2010, and it’s obviously missing on the fun in this niche. A few years ago, we heard rumors that the M5 Touring might return with the G30 generation, but the latest M5 has been around since 2017, and there’s no sign of a grocery getter. Hope is not lost yet, though, and we might see one, at least as a limited edition, soon. If it happens, it will come with a 4.4-liter V-8 engine rated at 591 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of twist. That’s only one horsepower and 37 pound-feet below the Audi RS6 Avant. A Competition model with 617 horses could put the M5 above Audi’s station wagon. Assuming BMW builds one and offers it in the United States, it should start from around $115,000.

Read our speculative review of the BMW M5 Touring

Conclusion

2020 Audi RS6 Avant Exterior
- image 888633

First introduced in 2002, the RS6 Avant is one of the most iconic vehicles in Audi’s lineup. Often linked to the even more iconic RS2, which was co-developed with Porsche, the RS6 Avant changed the station wagon market forever by proving that grocery getters don’t have to be slow and boring. The new RS6 Avant continues this tradition with impressive power and torque, quicker sprint times, and more technology and luxury than ever. It also looks way better than its predecessor, thanks to its RS7-based design cues. With the AMG E63 a bit dated, the RS6 Avant has no solid competition, so Audi has plenty of time to take advantage of that. The fact that it’s coming to the U.S. is the best news we heard from Audi in a very long time.

  • Leave it
    • Not exactly affordable
    • Mercedes has its own hot wagon
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read More
About the author

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