Audi is marking its 25th anniversary of building high-performance estate cars by launching another. Just like original RS 2 of 1994, the new Audi RS 6 Avant takes the brand’s largest estate car, adds a more powerful engine, four-wheel drive and a mean exterior makeover.
The Audi RS Q8 high-performance crossover is just about ready for its debut. At least, that seems to be the case based on the prototype above that has basically no camouflage. In fact, the stickers on it highlight parts of the car we couldn’t make out until now.
One of the previously hidden details is the set of openings above the grille. There are two small inlets flanking one large one, and they’re helpfully accented in red. It’s clearly an homage to the rally-dominating Audi Sport Quattro coupe. The front spoiler is much deeper than on the regular Q8, and it has some little winglets at the edges of the bumper. The grille openings are larger, too.
Audi is rumored to use the powertrain from the Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid. However, there were rumors the RS Q8 could use the same twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 from the Lamborghini Urus. Either way, it will sport the 4.0-liter engine paired with some sort of mild-hybrid assistance. The powertrain should make at least 600 horsepower (447 kilowatts) with some rumors suggesting as much as 670 horsepower (499 kilowatts) on tap. Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive will be available along with an adaptive suspension.
The original RS 6 Avant, launched in 2002, was a stealth supercar, its wider wheels, buttoned-down stance, and big-bore exhaust the only visual clues to the power and performance lurking under its skin. The 2020 model, by contrast, wears its go-fast heart on its sleeve. It’s a hefty 3.15 inches wider than the standard A6 Avant—and 0.8 inches wider than the previous RS 6 Avant—the sharply chiseled sheetmetal teased out over a wider track and massive 21-inch wheels (22s are optional).
Only the roof, front doors, and tailgate are shared with the standard car. Everything else is unique to the RS 6 Avant. Edgy and assertive, a hulking and sinister presence in the metal, it makes the Mercedes-AMG E63 Wagon look ready for the retirement home.
The interior has the same superbly executed mix of design and technology that impressed us in the A6 sedan, but with an RS makeover. The Audi virtual cockpit features special RS displays that provide information on tire pressure, torque, power output, engine oil temperature, boost pressure, lap timings, acceleration measurements, and g-forces. The shift light display prompts the driver to upshift when the maximum engine speed is reached.