Top Gear looks at the Audi RS6 through its history

So far, there have only been three generations of the wonderful Audi RS6, with each generation more impressive than the next. However, what’s remarkable about the RS6, that you don’t see often in other cars, is its incredible similarity through the generations. Audi nailed the recipe with the first “C5” generation RS6 and has managed to keep it incredibly similar even with its third “C7” gen.

The first C5 Audi RS6 was a twin-turbocharged, all-wheel drive sedan or wagon with a five-speed automatic. It developed 444 hp from its 4.2 liter twin-turbo V8 and 428 lb-ft of torque. It was capable of getting from 0-62 mph in 4.6 seconds, which is still pretty quick even today. However, by modern standards, it feels a bit sluggish thanks to its ancient five-speed auto. But its steering is delightfully tactile and full of feel, thanks to its old-school hydraulic steering rack.

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For the C6 generation, Audi gave the RS6 a completely new twin-turbocharged engine, this time with two more cylinders. That’s right, the C6 Audi RS6 was powered by a 5.0 liter twin-turbo V10 that revved higher than the previous V8 and was far racier. It also made a mighty 572 hp, all of which were sent through a six-speed automatic to all four wheels. That allowed it to get from 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds (sedan) or 4.6 seconds (Avant). While it wasn’t really any faster to 60 mph, it handled far better, was far more luxurious and was easier to drive quickly.

The current-gen C7 Audi RS6 Avant is a different beast. Audi went back to the twin-turbo V8 in the current RS6 and that lose of two cylinders coincidentally lost it almost 20 hp, boasting 553 hp. However, despite losing cylinders and power, it actually became faster, being able to get from 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds. A lot of that has to do with the new 4.0 liter twin-turbo V8’s crazy low-end torque and eight-speed automatic. It’s also far easier to drive than either of its predecessors, as well as being more comfortable.

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It’s interesting to see how the Audi RS6 has changed, or hasn’t changed, through its three generations. The recipe is still remarkably similar to the original car, a testament to the fact that Audi got it right the first time. We’re excited to see what’s to come from the Audi RS6 in the future and see if it keeps its recipe similar.

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.