Title: Battle of the Speedy Family Haulers: Audi RS6 Avant vs. RS7 vs. RS Q8
It’s a well-known fact that American consumers aren’t particularly fond of station wagons. However, American car enthusiasts have a soft spot for these versatile vehicles. While European car enthusiasts have access to a wide variety of impressive station wagons, such as the BMW 5 Series Touring or the Hyundai i30, American enthusiasts have been left yearning for a high-performance wagon. Luckily, Audi has finally thrown a treat their way with the introduction of the 2021 RS6 Avant, a twin-turbocharged station wagon. But with other fast family options like the RS7 Sportback and RS Q8 available, which Audi model is the right choice for you? To find out, we took these three vehicles for a spin on a twisty road during a warm afternoon.
2021 Audi RS6 Avant:
The RS6 Avant carries on the tradition of Audi’s impressive station wagons, paying homage to its legendary predecessors like the 1994 Audi RS2. This stylish and speedy wagon features Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive and an RS-specific torque-vectoring rear differential, allowing it to deliver its immense power with ease, even on rough pavement. With its 590 horsepower, eight-speed automatic transmission, and ample grip, the RS6 Avant is a force to be reckoned with on long, winding roads. Its exterior design is a nod to the iconic Audi Quattro, while the interior offers a luxurious and spacious cabin, making it a compelling choice as a daily driver.
2021 Audi RS7:
The RS7, referred to as a Sportback by Audi, features a four-door coupe-like design with a sloping roofline and a cargo hatch. This sportier version of the RS6 Avant shares many mechanical and functional features with its sibling. The RS7 maintains excellent grip through corners thanks to Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive and an Audi Sport rear differential. Though its rear seats may not be as spacious as the RS6 Avant, the RS7 offers an intimate and driver-focused interior. The RS7’s turbo lag is noticeable, but once it kicks into gear, the power delivery is exhilarating. The RS7’s coupe-like view and aggressive styling make it an appealing option for those seeking a more aggressive driving experience.
Audi RS Q8:
Over the years, luxury wagons have taken a backseat to high-riding SUVs in the US market. The Audi RS Q8 is a prime example of automakers catering to this demand, as it combines the practicality and comfort of an SUV with impressive performance. The RS Q8 stands taller than its wagon counterparts but still manages to deliver thrilling acceleration and stability on the road. Its taller height provides improved visibility and rear legroom, making it a more natural fit for everyday traffic. The RS Q8 shares the same impressive powertrain as the RS6 Avant and RS7, and its massive ceramic brakes ensure immediate stopping power when needed. Its bold design and larger cargo space make it a great option for those who desire a versatile family vehicle with uncompromised performance.
With the same engines, drivetrains, and platforms, the RS6 Avant, RS7, and RS Q8 share many similarities on the road. All three models offer a comfortable ride, even on rough pavement, thanks to Audi’s adaptive dampers and customizable drive modes. When switched to Dynamic mode or the configurable RS modes, these vehicles become truly exhilarating, with stiffer suspensions and sharper throttle responses. While understeer remains a characteristic of Audi’s performance vehicles, these models offer ample grip and impressive acceleration, making them outstanding long-distance cruisers and capable corner carvers.
After spending hours driving these vehicles, some distinctions emerged based on their form factors. The RS Q8 felt more visceral during acceleration, possibly due to some rear-end squat caused by its higher center of gravity. The RS7’s coupe-like design offered a unique rear and shoulder visibility compared to the others. Surprisingly, the RS6 Avant felt less distinct behind the wheel, despite its desirability as a forbidden fruit in the US market. The standard exhaust note of the RS6 Avant is relatively sedate, making the sport exhaust option a must-have for enthusiasts. While our preference leaned towards the RS6 Avant, the RS Q8 received an honorable mention due to its impressive integration of performance and SUV capabilities.
Ultimately, our top choice among these three fast Audis is the RS6 Avant. Its unique styling, spacious interior, and impressive performance make it a standout in the US market, where station wagons are a rarity. The RS6 Avant offers an exceptional blend of power, comfort, and functionality at a slightly lower price compared to the RS7 and RS Q8. However, the decision ultimately comes down to personal preference and form factor, as all three models excel in their own ways. Whether you choose the stylish RS7 or the versatile RS Q8, each vehicle provides a thrilling driving experience combined with Audi’s signature luxury and performance.
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