2009 Audi RS6
2009 Audi RS6. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

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Audi’s forbidden fruit

Düsseldorf, Germany – Stop the madness, I want to get off. Well, not before I drive the Europe-only 2009 Audi RS6.

There is a nasty horsepower war going on in Germany right now, and things got real ugly in 2008. It seems Audi was getting tired of having sand kicked in its face by the 500-hp V10 BMW M5 and the 507-hp V8 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, so they slapped a couple of turbos on the Lamborghini derived 5.0-litre V10 in the S6 Avant, et voila: 580 horsepower and 479 lb.-ft of thundering torque available from 1500 to 6250 rpm. In a wagon: pure insanity.

For 2009, the sedan gets the RS6 treatment. Ouch!

The package is completed by dark-finish 19-inch alloys lurking within blistered bodywork, three-stage electronic damping, a six-speed, paddle-shiftable auto-box, and Quattro all-wheel-drive with a 60 per cent rear bias.

2009 Audi RS6
2009 Audi RS6. Click image to enlarge

Inside you’ll find highly bolstered sport seats and a flat-bottomed steering wheel (all real suede in this 100,000 euro tester) that signal things to come.

Press the start button on the console and the V10 barks to life and settles into a somewhat off-beat, flatulent idle. Not pretty, but ominous as a pea-green sky. Toto, we ain’t gonna be in Kansas much longer.

Rumbling down the dirt road from Schloss Dyck Castle, the ride was firm, but not harsh. Once on a straight stretch of tarmac, the hammer went down and the RS6 exploded towards the horizon. The blown V10 bellows like a moose in heat, the wastegates wuffle between shifts and your corneas come perilously close to meeting your retinas. On the Autobahn it was pulling with this ferocity at 225 km/h!

The RS6 does not drive like the lithe 420-hp V8 RS4. It’s big, it’s front-heavy, the steering is a bit numb but it does have more grip than you’ll ever use on public roads. Most of all, it’s just stupid, laughably fast.

And they say the Germans don’t have a sense of humour.

2009 Audi A6 2.0T Avant
2009 Audi Q7 V12 TDI
2009 Audi A6 2.0T Avant (top); 2009 Audi Q7 V12 TDI. Click image to enlarge

Living at the other end of the A6 spectrum is the 2.0 TDI – a six-speed manual, 170-hp, 258 lb.-ft. turbo-diesel version that returns 5.7L/100 km (50 mpg Imperial) on the EU cycle. Was it noisy? No. Was it slow? No. Has it been engineered to meet North American Bin5 emission regulations? Sadly, no.

Even more frugal is the 2.0TDIe. Its 136-hp, 236 lb.-ft. diesel four is rated at 5.3L/100 km (53 mpg Imperial).

Two additional V6 engines round out the Euro A6 diesel line-up: the 2.7TDI that develops 190 hp and 295 lb.-ft. and the 3.0TDI with 240 hp and 368 lb.-ft. If any diesel engine makes it across the pond in an A6, it will be the latter, but Audi is waiting to see how the upcoming diesel Q5 crossover with that engine is received in North America before committing to an A6 diesel.

Audi’s current showpiece of diesel technology is the 2009 Audi Q7 V12 TDI. With a completely redeveloped common rail injection system, this 6.0-litre twelve-banger kicks out 500 ponies and 737.5 lb.-ft. of twist in the most opulently appointed, buttoned downed, bad-ass Q7 imaginable. With its gaping grilles, LED running lights and 21-inch wheels, it is indeed a formidable presence – and one we’ll never see here, as this mighty oil-burner was not developed with the strict N.A. emission regs in mind. Plus it’s hugely expensive – about $160,000 in our money.

But my gawd, does it boogie. The world’s most powerful diesel-powered SUV hits 100 km/h in 5.5 seconds, but incredibly, returns 11.3L/100 km (25 mpg Imperial) on the EU cycle.

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