In the world of fast wagons, Audi seems to be king. In fact, it’s almost king by default because no one else really does fast wagons anymore, except for Audi. Well, the crazed engineers at AMG also do fast wagons, very good ones, and have one that competes with the best from Audi’s RS Division. The Audi RS6 Avant is one of our favorite all time Audi’s, as it’s incredibly fast, great fun to drive and fantastically practical as well. It’s just such a good all around car. The Mercedes-AMG E63 S is also very good in the same light, but it has even more power and two fewer driven wheels. So which one would be faster in a drag race?
Well, Top Gear was keen to find out. So they took the Audi RS6 Avant and Mercedes-AMG E63 S to a drag strip where they put them to the test. The RS6 packs a 4.0 liter twin-turbocharged TFSI V8, that develops 560 hp, which is paired with a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic and powers all four wheels via Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system. The AMG uses a 5.5 liter twin-turbocharged V8 that develops 577 hp, all of which is sent through Mercedes’ seven-speed wet-clutch automatic and powers only the rear wheels. They both weight about the same, so the AMG seems to have the power advantage, but the RS6’s all-wheel drive traction could help it off the line. This is a genuinely interesting race.
Another key advantage for the Audi is its gearbox. The ZF eight-speed is an absolute gem and a gearbox we’ve praised in every car that features it, so it fires off snappy shifts with dual-clutch level speeds. The AMG’s seven-speed unit is quite old and dated and shifts a bit sluggishly in manual mode. This can lose the AMG precious tenths of a second in this race.
Both of the Audi’s advantages are seen right away, as its all-wheel drive traction fires it out of the hole with incredible immediacy, while the AMG seems to spin its wheels for a second before really launching. By then, the RS6 already has a distinct lead, one that’s aided by its much faster shifts as it flies through its gears. The AMG is a bit sluggish with each gearchange, causing it to fall further behind. Though, the AMG’s extra power starts to come in to play and it starts to catch up. But by then it’s over and the RS6 takes the win by almost a full second.
The performance numbers tell a lot of the story here. With the RS6 getting from 0-60 mph in 3.3 seconds, the AMG took a full 4.0 seconds, giving the RS6 a lead it would never give up. 0-100 mph took just 7.7 seconds for the RS6 while the AMG did the same sprint in 8.4 seconds, showing that the RS6 continued to accelerate harder throughout the race, despite less power, showing how important those snappy gearchanges are. The RS6 finished the quarter-mile race in 11.4 seconds while the AMG took 12.2. So the Audi RS6 Avant is clearly the superior performance car, showing that it beat the AMG from the moment they left the line and continued its dominance throughout the race with no signs of slowing down.