Audi RS 6 Mild Hybrid Hyper-Wagon

Audi has elevated the compact Sportwagon to a new hypercar-challenging level in the shape of the 598bhp mild hybrid Audi RS 6 Avant.

Boasting a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 motor, this capacious shopping-trolley-on-steroids blends the heady horsepower with 590ft-lbs of torque to deliver a claimed 0-62mph sprint time of 3.6 seconds on the way to an electronically restricted 155mph top speed. Perhaps even more impressive is its acceleration from standstill to 124mph in under 12 seconds.

Contributing to the performance is a 48-volt main electrical system with a belt alternator starter at its heart. Up to 12 kW of power can be recovered during light deceleration and stored in a separate lithium-ion battery. When the driver lifts off the accelerator at a speed of between 34 and 99mph, the drive management selects one of two options. Depending on the driver demands it will either recover energy or coast for up to 40 seconds with the engine switched off. With acceleration reapplied, the belt alternator starter restarts the engine. The mild hybrid system also allows for start/stop operation at speeds of up to 13mph claiming to save up to 1.4 pints (1.7 pints US) of fuel every 62 miles in everyday driving.

The motor also features a cylinder on demand (COD) system that, at low to intermediate loads and speeds, deactivates cylinders 2, 3, 5 and 8 in the high gears by switching off injection and ignition and closing the intake and exhaust valves. Naturally enough for sporting drivers, the engine sound can be augmented depending on drive mode selected. In the new, customable RS1 and RS2 modes, accessible via Audi drive select, owners can choose whether the sound should be full-blooded or balanced.

The standard eight-speed tiptronic transmission now features launch control through the quattro permanent all-wheel drive. The drive forces are distributed to the front and rear axle in a ratio of 40:60 via the all-mechanical central differential. If one wheel slips, more drive torque automatically goes to the axle with the better traction. Up to 70% can be directed to the front wheels and up to 85% to the rear wheels.

Deliveries in Europe are expected to begin in January 2020.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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