Six years ago I was driving a Ferrari 458 and with nearly 600bhp, or three times the power of a Mini Cooper S, and thought it was seriously fast. But that was a thoroughbred two-seater sports car with barely enough luggage space for your sunglasses and a packet of mints.
Audi£€™s latest RS6 Avant Performance thanks to turbocharging boasts 603bhp…in a family estate car! For around £85,000 you can have genuine supercar performance.
Put your foot down, not even that hard, and passengers will gasp in surprise as the RS6 takes off for the horizon; yet ironically there is also a lack of drama to the car£€™s amazing performance.
Massive tyres give it massive traction added to a quattro four-wheel drive system like made Audi World Rally Champions on so many occasions. It£€™s only the huge tyres and exhausts the size of cannons that give away the car£€™s performance potential, though in dark colours with extra lashings of sinister carbon fibre the RS6 has hints of Batman£€™s wheels about it.
On journeys there£€™s a Bentley-like contemptuousness for distance and the feeling of having seven league boots. Using this blast furnace of an engine – you should hear the cooling fans trying to cope – means fuel consumption can easily drop as low as 12mpg and single figures is not an impossibility.
You can pile on tremendous speed in seconds but wipe it away even quicker with the powerful brakes. Some fixed speed cruising restored matters somewhat to 21.6mpg but the best I ever saw was a little over 25mpg, and with petrol in central London at least 3p a litre more than in the Midlands I wished I had filled up before leaving.
Performance is truly effortless and a steady 50mph is a mere 1,200rpm in eighth gear. In fact, if you are gentle on the accelerator you even get a message to say the engine has dropped down to four cylinders to save fuel. Ease your foot down and the engine seamlessly surges back into eight-cylinder mode.
According to your mood you can choose between normal drive, sport or manual gear ratios and then tune matters even further with driver modes of comfort, dynamic, automatic or individual.
In auto the car does what it thinks best, according to how you are driving it, or you can choose individual parameters. The steering is precise but like a computer game with no real feel of road grip. For a while I was moving the steering more than necessary to try and sense how the chassis was responding.
For a while I found I was moving the steering more than necessary to try and sense how the chassis was responding but with those steam roller tyres and permanent four-wheel drive it is stomach wrenching how much of the RS6£€™s huge power you can safely put to use.
The cabin is very pleasant place to spend time though it doesn£€™t reduce the frustration of traffic jams. Looking down at a speedometer takes dangerously long in a car that accelerates as hard as this so an aircraft style head-up display projects your speed on to the windscreen.
It£€™s so natural to use that you feel lost when you return to a car with a more normal display. High tech doesn£€™t always get it right though and sometimes the car was telling me one speed limit when outside something very different was showing on the signs.
Options including 21in wheels, carbon styling pack and RS Sport suspension pushed the price to £99,420 but to my surprise it felt worth it. I loved it. But it made the UK seem minuscule.
Also consider: Ferrari, Lamborghini.
Verdict A titanium fist in a velvet glove