I might get my car enthusiast license revoked, or at the very least a Piloti shoe thrown at my head, for even suggesting that a massive luxury sedan be cooler to buy than a proper performance wagon. However, the new Audi S8 is such a good car that it very well might be a better buy than the fan-favorite Audi RS6 Avant. Especially since they’re so close in price.
Both cars start at almost the exact same price. The Audi RS6 Avant starts at $116,500 in the US and the Audi S8 starts at $116,800. The cost difference between them is less than the cost to fully fuel both of them at the moment. For that money, it’s hard to go wrong with either, as they’re both excellent, but they each offer some advantages over the other. So let’s check ’em out.
Audi RS6 Avant
I don’t really need to work hard to make a case for the Audi RS6 Avant. The stunning five-door performance wagon from Audi Sport is among the coolest cars on the planet. It’s great to look at, bonkers fast, and even every bit as practical as your average crossover. It’s just about the perfect do-it-all family sedan.
Under its family car shell is the heart of a supercar. Its 4.0 liter twin-turbocharged V8 makes 591 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque. According to Audi, 0-60 happens in 3.5 seconds. And yet it has four doors, five seats, and a wagon-style trunk. While it’s not super luxurious, it still has an excellent cabin, one that only the snobbiest of snobs would turn their nose to.
In terms of handling and performance, the Audi RS6 Avant is good but not great for its class. Every other super sedan/wagon in its price point; the Mercedes-AMG E63 S Wagon, BMW M5 Competition, and Porsche Panamera Turbo S; are all sharper and more engaging to drive. The RS6 is still really good but it lags behind its competitors.
The Audi S8 is much more of a sleeper than the RS6. Whereas its wagon sibling looks incredibly aggressive, the S8 is subtler. It has a sleek, modern, sophisticated design befitting of a six-figure luxury car. But it never shouts about its performance.
And yet, performance it has. Under that sleek sheet metal is a similar 4.0 liter twin-turbocharged V8 to the RS6 but it makes a bit less power. Because it’s not a proper Audi Sport (RS) model, it only makes 563 horsepower. However, it has the same torque, at 590 lb-ft. The S8 is a bit heavier and makes less power, so 0-60 mph happens in a claimed 3.8 seconds but that’s still bonkers-quick in something so large.
Where the Audi S8 makes up ground over the RS6 is in its cabin. The S8 is gorgeous inside, with a luxury car interior that fits its price tag. The RS6 is more practical but the S8 is far more luxurious, even going as far as to offer lounge seating for rear passengers. It’s also far nicer to drive than one might expect and it’s actually among the best driving cars in its class.
This is actually a tougher call that I thought it would be. The Audi RS6 Avant is still the car I’d go with personally, because I love wagons, but the S8 is seriously tempting. The newly facelifted model looks fantastic and has a better interior, while being basically just as fast and more comfortable. But in the end, the wagon still wins it for me. I wouldn’t scoff at anyone who chose the S8, though.