The Audi RS6 was a high-performance version of Audi's 2nd generation (1997-2005) A6, and was available as both a sedan and a wagon (called Avant by Audi). It was second at the top of the A6 lineup, above the A6 2.7T and 4.2 and the lesser S6, and was exceeded in power and price only by the RS6 Plus. It effectively replaced both the S6 4.2 and S6 Plus models of 1995.
The RS6 featured a twin-turbocharged version of the corporate 4.2 Litre V8 engine tuned by Cosworth Technologies (Now known as Mahle Powertrain), which had originally been developed for the 1994 A8. With the aid of the turbochargers, output rose to 444 hp (331 kW) and 415 ftÂ·lbf (560 Nm) of torque. The combination of the V-8 and the turbochargers helped give the RS6 an exceptionally wide power band, with peak torque available from 1950 to 5600 RPMs.
The RS6 was available only with Audi's Quattro All-Wheel Drive system and a 5-speed "Tiptronic" transmission, the same unit that was being used in the W12 powered A8, chosen because none of Audi's manual transmissions could cope with the RS6's high torque output. The RS6 also served as the debut model for Audi's Dynamic Ride Control (DRC) system. The system is mainly mechanical, and uses a pump to keep pressure in the shock abosorbers during cornering to counteract rolling and pitching. The system is "intelligent", it is able to adjust the stiffness at each shock absorber constantly to maintain both a comfortable ride and high grip. However, DRC's main advantage is that it operates without the need for most of the complicated electronics required in similar systems from Mercedes Benz and other competitors.
According to testing by Car and Driver magazine, the RS6 can accelerate from 0 - 60 mph (0 - 96.6 km/h) in just 4.4 seconds, 0 - 100 in 10.7 seconds and has an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph (250 km/h), however the vehicle can reportedly hit 170 miles per hour or more in unlimited form. It can stop from 60 mph (96.6 to 0 km/h) in 118 feet (35.97m), thanks to its large 365/335 mm (14.4/13.2 in) front/rear brakes, and an uncommon eight-piston design in the front.
There was also an RS6 Plus version of the car producing over 480 bhp and topping 180 mph. The car came only as an avant and was sold only in European markets. It lasted for just one model year but quickly sold out once it was released.
New versions of the S6 and RS6 will soon be in development, based on the new A6 platform, which was introduced in 2005 for the 2006 model year.
While about 8000 RS6s were produced worldwide, approximately 1,200 units were sold in North America. A small community of RS6 owners exists in North America and some refer to the vehicle as "The Beast" or "The Lord of the Rings" (in reference to Audi's interlocking ring logo). RS stands for RennSport - Racing in German, fitting as the RS line of cars from Audi are the most performance oriented of all Audis.
The 4.2 V8 engine in its base configuration was named as one of the Wardâ€™s Auto World "10 Best Engines for 2005".
The RS6's combination of performance, handling (AWD), luxury and available space are unique and it was chosen over its closest competitors, the BMW M5, Jaguar S-Type R, and Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG by Car and Driver magazine.