Stigmatized as boring family haulers, the humble wagon has never enjoyed the respect here in the US that it enjoys elsewhere in the world. No surprise, then, that over the years we’ve missed out on most of the greatest European sport wagons, machines designed to be as good at hauling a family as they are at, well, hauling. Lately, well-heeled Americans have been blessed with a few mighty options, like the Mercedes-AMG E63 S Wagon and the Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo. Now, Audi stands ready to deliver what might be the most aggressive-looking longroof yet.
It’s the 2020 Audi RS6 Avant, the fourth generation of this mighty wagon. This time it has a whopping 592 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque from Audi’s 4.0-liter, twin-turbo mild-hybrid V8. That power, directed through an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission and a Quattro all-wheel-drive system, will launch this utilitarian supercar from 0 to 62 miles per hour in 3.6 seconds. Going from a standstill to 124 mph takes just 12 seconds.
Stopping all that force is a new set of steel brakes that measure an impressive 16.5 inches up front and 14.6 inches at the rear. Carbon ceramic brakes offer even more speed-scrubbing prowess, with huge, 17.3-inch front discs.
In normal conditions, that Quattro system sends 60 percent of the power to the rear wheels, but it can send up to 70 percent up to the front in low-grip situations or, under hard acceleration on the dry, directs 85 percent to the rear. When cornering, the RS6 can brake the inside wheels to maximize handling, while the optional Quattro Sport differential can dynamically send more torque to the outside. The RS6 can also stop/start at speeds up to 13 mph, which is said to improve fuel economy.
Rear-wheel steering is another option that should make this uberwagon light on its toes, while the standard air suspension can lower the car nearly a full inch at speed for better aerodynamics, or lift it up 1.6 inches from there to match the ride height of a standard A6 Avant. No worries about pesky speed bumps, then. Those looking for better handling will want the optional Dynamic Ride Control suspension, which swaps in a set of adaptive dampers that are linked corner to corner, not unlike the McLaren 720S.
Whichever suspension you choose, its stiffness is modulated through one of six driver modes along with other features like throttle response, engine power, differential behavior and exhaust note. Two of the modes are customizable, meaning you can dial in your perfect configuration, and Audi is quick to point out that the car’s stability control system can be fully disabled. Yes, hooligans, this wagon will drift.
With a top speed of 190 mph (with the optional Dynamic Plus package), the new RS6 will be outrageously fast. To make sure it looks the part, the RS6 Avant wears an almost entirely bespoke suit, bodywork that shares only the front doors, roof and tailgate with the A6 Avant. The front of the car has also been decluttered somewhat, with a new frameless grille that looks larger yet simpler, especially if you opt for the black or carbon trim packs. Filling the swollen arches are the standard 21-inch wheels, but as an option you can choose enormous 22-inch rims.
The overall result is that, even in a muted color with the darker trim, the RS6 is certainly not a subtle Q-car. Interestingly, as with all but one of the previous RS6 generations, Audi says this new one will only be available as a wagon. Audi claims this body style is “unique in its segment,” which is a little odd considering Mercedes offers the aforementioned AMG E63 S.
The interior has also received the RS treatment with details like open-weave carbon fiber and quilted leather seats, but still offers all the latest tech niceties that Audi has to offer, including MMI Touch paired with Virtual Cockpit and an optional head-up display, all augmented with RS-specific displays. The steering wheel now comes with an RS Mode button that selects the new RS1 and RS2 settings, which are driver-configurable and replace the old Individual tab of the Audi Drive Select software.
But the best news of all is still that the 2020 Audi RS6 Avant will be available in North America — though exactly when and at what price are questions without answers. Just for context, to get yourself into a Mercedes-AMG E63 S Wagon you’re looking at about $108,000 to start. While the RS6 will likely come in below that, it certainly won’t be cheap and you might just have to choose between this and your kids’ college funds. We know you’ll make the right call.