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First look: Riotous RS6 sedan heads A6 overhaul

E63 fighter: New twin-turbo RS6 sedan is Audi's quickest model.

New blown V6 for facelifted Audi A6 range, crowned by ballistic new RS6 V10 sedan

13 Aug 2008

AUDI has revealed its new performance king and Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG bruiser - the bahnstorming RS6 sedan - as part of a facelifted A6 model range that goes on sale in Europe from October, and in Australia during the first quarter of 2009.

Breaking with tradition, the four-door RS6 emerges almost 12 months after the RS6 Avant was revealed prior to its 2007 Frankfurt motor show debut as Audi’s most powerful production car ever.

Packing the same ballistic 426kW/650Nm twin-turbocharged direct-injection V10 as the slightly heavier RS6 wagon, which went on sale in Europe in April, the RS6 sedan sprints to 100km/h in a claimed 4.5 seconds with its standard six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission.

That not only blows the S6 sedan's 5.2-second 0-100km/h acceleration time away and is a tenth of a second better than both the RS6 Avant auto and Ingolstadt's own R8 supercar, making it Audi’s quickest model, but - crucially - it matches the E63's benchmark pace and also betters the 4.7-second 0-100 acceleration of BMW's M5.

The RS6's supercar-rivalling sprint times come despite a hefty kerb weight of 1960kg, thanks to Audi's use of forced induction to belittle the naturally-aspirated outputs of the (1555kg) M5's 373kW/520Nm 5.0-litre V10 and the (1775kg) E63's 378kW/630Nm 6.2-litre V8.

The resulting 4.6kg-per-kiloWatt weight-to-power ratio is also good for a 250km/h top speed like its German rivals, but can be raised to 280km/h as an option in Europe. BMW doesn't advertise the fact its SMG-only M5 is capable of employing most of its 330km/h speedo when similarly tweaked.

7 center imageThe force-fed 5.0-litre RS6 engine is related to the naturally-aspirated 5.2-litre FSI V10 that powers the 320kW/540Nm S6 sedan ($195,900) and 331kW/540Nm S8 limousine ($259,900), and which produces 412kW and 540Nm in the 1410kg Gallardo supercar from sister company Lamborghini to deliver 3.7-second 0-100 acceleration.

As with all S, R, Q and RS models from Audi, the RS6 engine channels its mountainous 650Nm torque peak – available from just 1500rpm to no less than 6250rpm – via the brand’s trademark quattro all-wheel drive system.

Australia’s RS6 saloon will come standard with Germany's optional 20x9.5-inch alloy wheels shod with 275/35-section tyres, plus six-piston fixed aluminium front brake callipers with RS badging and single-piston rear callipers, gripping 390mm and 356mm floating brake discs with axial perforations respectively.

A ceramic brake option not only offers increased braking power, but the massive 420mm front and 356mm rear discs weigh 12.2kg less than the standard steel RS6 items, squeezed by eight-piston front callipers - painted anthracite and adorning "Audi ceramic" lettering.

Another RS6 feature includes Dynamic Ride Control (DRC), which hydraulically connects diagonally-opposite shock absorbers to reduce pitch and roll and, when combined with the "sports suspension plus", offers a choice of sport, dynamic and comfort damper settings. A switchable, less aggressive stability control system is also fitted.

Australian options have not been confirmed, but standard RS6 sedan features will include the model’s new third-generation Multi-Media Interface (MMI) system with a colour monitor, satellite-navigation and digital/analogue TV, plus keyless locking/starting, an electric glass sunroof, dual-zone deluxe automatic air-conditioning plus, acoustic front and rear parking assistance and a Bose surround sound system.

The RS6 sedan is differentiated from lesser A6s externally via flared gaurds, beefier side skirts, a mesh grille, LED daytime running lights, a rear diffuser and spoiler and two big oval exhaust outlets, while exclusive interior features include a boost pressure gauge, sports bucket seats, three-spoke multi-function leather sports steering wheel with flat-bottomed rim, alloy pedals and swathes of carbon-fibre, aluminium, piano black, Nappa leather and Alcantara fake-suede.

Audi Australia won’t release pricing for the RS6 sedan until the outcome of the luxury car tax (LCT) inquiry is known, but expect it to be less expensive than the RS6 Avant, which made its Australian debut at the Melbourne motor show in March.

Now on sale priced at $259,000 (pending LCT changes), at least 40 examples of the RS6 Avant are expected to be delivered locally in 2008, from late September.

The RS6 sedan will crown a comprehensively facelifted A6 range that also arrives in Australia in early 2009, headlined by a new supercharged 3.0-litre V6 variant that wears a misleading 3.0 TFSI badge and in the UK replaces both the current 3.0 FSI and 4.2 V8 models – banishing Audi’s naturally-aspirated 3.2-litre V6 and 4.2-litre V8 petrol engines from the UK's revised A6 range.

With the V8 gone and the S6 and RS6 models packing V10 engines, the 3.0 TFSI will be the new top-shelf engine in the standard A6 range in the UK, though Australia’s 2009 A6 range is yet to be confirmed. The A6 4.2 continues in Germany, where the V8 gains FSI direct-injection to match the A8 4.2 and Q7 4.2 outputs of 257kW/440Nm.

The new supercharged V6 from Audi easily eclipses the current 3.2-litre atmo V6’s 188kW/330Nm outputs and approaches the outgoing 246kW/420Nm 4.2-litre A6 V8 for power and torque, with 213kW on tap between 2500rpm and 4850rpm, promising low-rpm flexibility, and the same beefy 420Nm torque output as the former A6 V8.

Mated exclusively to a six-speed automatic transmission with permanent quattro AWD, new A6 3.0 TFSI sedan sprints to 100km/h in a claimed 5.9 seconds, has a governed 250km/h top speed and returns average EU fuel consumption of just 9.5L/100km – down from both the current A6 4.2 qauttro sedan’s 11.8L/100km and the A6 3.2 FSI quattro sedan’s 11.1L/100km figures.

Also contributing to a claimed 15 per cent fuel consumption reduction across the upgraded A6 range (in Europe) is a new 2.0 TDI variant, powered by a new 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder that will become available in Europe in both 125kW and basic 100kW guises – the latter badged as the 2.0 TDIe.

The lower-slung front-drive 2.0 TDIe comes mated to six-speed manual or automatic multitronic transmissions, and in CVT guise claims 0-100km/h acceleration in 9.9 seconds and a 204km/h top speed. The manual returns 5.3L/100km EU fuel consumption and 139g/km of CO2 emissions.

The 2.0 TDI joins Europe’s 140kW/380Nm 2.7 TDI and 176kW/450Nm 3.0 TDI turbo-diesel engines (the latter also available here in 171kW form, in the A6 Allroad), while two versions of the 2.8 FSI V6 will be on offer in Europe – with 140kW and 162kW outputs. The entry-level 125kW 2.0 TFSI variant, which opens the current A6 sedan range here at $75,900, also continues.

The first update for the current 4F-series A6 range that arrived in Australia in October 2004 (August 2005 for the Avant) also comprises subtle styling updates inside and out, reconfigured suspension, the latest quattro AWD system with 40/60 front/rear torque split and the new third-generation MMI with 40GB hard-disc.

Cosmetic updates include a revised single-frame grille, air-vents, foglights and optional Xenon plus headlights with LED daytime running lights, which are now arranged as horizontal strips with six LEDs each.

New larger-diameter front shock absorbers have been fitted, along with revised springs and larger 17-inch brakes for high-power variants.

Due to make its public debut at Paris, where its direct competitor in the new Mercedes-Benz E-class could also emerge, the facelifted A6 range replaces a model that found 234,000 homes in 2007, for a claimed 37 per cent global market share.

Audi sold 752 A6s in Australia last year, for an 11.5 per cent share of the large-car over $70,000 segment.

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