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Did the Audi RS6 just lose its main advantage to its rivals?

Up until recently, the Audi RS6 Avant was the only all-wheel drive super sedan (wagon) in its class. The equivalent Mercedes-AMG, BMW M and Cadillac V-Series were all rear-wheel drive. Until now that is. Both the new Mercedes-AMG E63 S and brand-spanking-new BMW M5 are now all-wheel drive. So considering that both cars are very new and very powerful, while also being all-wheel drive, did Audi and its RS6 just lose its main advantage?

Despite being by far the oldest car in the segment, the Audi RS6 is still surprisingly competitive. In “Performance” trim, the Audi RS6 can get from 0-60 mph in as low as 3.4 seconds and can reach a top speed of 189 mph. That’s thanks to a 605 hp twin-turbocharged 4.0 liter V8, an eight-speed automatic gearbox and Quattro all-wheel drive. It was the most brutally fast and remarkably stable car in its class. Now, though, its competitors have caught up, if not surpassed it.

The Mercedes-AMG E63 S comes with its own twin-turbocharged 4.0 liter V8 that makes 603 hp. That monster V8 is mated to a nine-speed automatic and AMG’s own 4Matic all-wheel drive system. With all of that, the AMG E63 S can get from 0-60 mph in 3.3 seconds and on to the same top speed.

Just released today is the brand-spanking new BMW M5. A first for the M Division, the new M5 is also all-wheel drive now. That all-wheel drive system is powered by a 4.4 liter twin-turbo V8 and an eight-speed automatic. The Bimmer makes 600 hp flat and can get from 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds and on to 189 mph.

So of all of these super sedans (or wagons), the Audi RS6 is now the slowest and a lot of that has to do with the other cars’ all-wheel drive systems. Prior to these cars powering all four wheels, the RS6 always had the distinct advantage of Quattro grip. So the RS6 was always the fastest car in the group. It also always had the advantage of being far faster in bad weather. So now that the other cars have all-wheel drive as well, what will Audi have to do with the RS6 to compete?

One interesting feature the Merc and Bimmer both have is the ability to switch themselves to rear-wheel drive. So they can switch off the front axle, essentially, and do big smoky rear-wheel drive drifts. It’s not likely that Audi will ever do such a thing, as it’s made its bones with Quattro all-wheel drive. However, Audi Sport boss Stephan Winkelmann did suggest the possibility of a rear-wheel drive Audi RS car. So maybe we’ll see an RS6 with a Drift Mode, like the AMG, to even things out?

We don’t know exactly what will happen with the next-gen Audi RS6. The only thing we do know is that it can’t just rest on big power and Quattro grip anymore, as its competition has caught on.

CategoriesEditorial RS6
Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.