Preview: 2009 Audi RS6
If the Audi A1 concept car showed the future, the Audi RS6 is something of a throwback. A twin-turbo V-10-powered muscle car with 571 horsepower, the Audi RS6 was one of the most politically incorrect cars at the show. And we loved it. However, this hefty (4,337 lb.!) sedan will never see American roads, as Audi management reckons it would be far too expensive to gain much traction in the market (despite its all-wheel-driven performance). Built by Audi's Quattro subsidiary, the RS6 can reach 100 km/h (62 mph) from a standstill in just 4.5 seconds, CO2 emissions be damned. We were told that the next RS6 will be even quicker and cleaner, too, and that it will reach Americans who can afford a car that gulps down the juice like a sailor on shore leave.
Why it Matters
Let's just be thankful that somebody forgot to tell European luxury carmakers that the economy is tanking. Otherwise, the plug may have been pulled on the 2009 Audi RS6 before it was even delivered to Audi showrooms. In the grand scheme of things, cars like the Audi RS6 don't amount to much: They go really fast, turn really hard, really cost a lot and make as opposite a statement from a Toyota Prius as you can without literally pouring gasoline onto the ground. However, as a flagship car, the RS6 matters a great deal to Audi. It has the potential to out perform the company's own R8 supercar, all while carrying four in comfort. The Audi RS6 may also be among the last of a breed. If this is a swan song, we're diggin' it.
What it Looks Like
The 2009 Audi RS6 styling is, as we expect from Audi, subtle but effective. The gaping grille's effect is enhanced by deleting the crossbar. The fenders are blistered to accommodate the huge 19-inch or optional 20-inch wheels and tires. The enhanced front end includes gaping air intakes below the headlights to help cool the engine and brakes. Yet overall the look is subtle, with far less visual impact than the car's performance delivers.
The interior sports the attention to detail and style that we expect from Audi. The steering wheel boasts a flat bottom for extra clearance. The control layout is logical and elegant. The design conveys a sense of sport, luxury and sophistication thanks to its generous use of leather, aluminum and wood. We doubt any 2009 Audi RS6 owners will feel shortchanged when they sit in their cars.
What's Under the Skin
Under the conservative styling of the 2009 Audi RS6 lies a monster. The engine is a 5.0-liter V-10 that makes 580 horsepower thanks to twin turbos. It's connected to a six-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic manual control. Being an Audi, it also has quattro all-wheel drive, with a rearward bias for maximum performance. Audi predicts 0-60 mph times in the mid 4-second range, and a governed top speed of 174 mph.
The all-independent suspension is composed mostly of aluminum to keep weight down and responsiveness up. The Audi RS6 also boasts Dynamic Ride Control, which reduces roll in corners by actively changing the damping forces of the shocks. This enhances handling while still allowing for a comfortable ride.
The Audi RS6 interior is as luxurious and sporty as you'd expect in a sedan costing more than 105,000 euros (that's more than $150,000). Sculpted sport seats covered in the softest leather; carbon fiber, aluminum, piano lacquer and Alcantara trim; automatic climate control, parking assist, Bose surround sound...the works.
What We Think
We should say that we're torn between our eco-friendly tree-hugging nature and our desire for fast, powerful, sexy cars. But we're not. We're reduced to a ball of quivering jelly that knows only how to say, "Want. Want. Want," over and over. As long as cars like the 2009 Audi RS6 exist, Audi will find buyers for them, even if they're increasingly fewer in number. While the Wall Street collapse has undoubtedly reduced the buying pool some – for now – we hope these cars keep coming until the very last drop of oil is sucked from the sand.
By Keith Buglewicz and Greg Brown
Photo credit: Greg Brown