Compared: 2021 Audi RS 6 Avant vs. 2021 Audi A6 allroad – Enthusiast Unit vs. Consumer Unit

words: George, photos: George Achorn, Bill Cho

Editor’s Note: This article originally ran in the Q3_2021 issue of quattro Magazine. If you would like to subscribe to quattro Magazine, please join Audi Club here.

“Consumer Unit”. It’s a term you hear when you spend time with a manufacturer like Audi. Loosely stated, it’s a car seen out in the wild and operated by a private owner. It’s a car that’s been purchased and driven by choice. What then defines the average consumer, much less separates the ardent enthusiast is the question, a differentiation perhaps well embodied by the cars you see here.

Okay, in fairness it may be a stretch to label any Audi Avant a “consumer unit”. Though long roofs may be a staple in the home market of Germany, it is the SUV/crossover that rules supreme in the United States. Even still, the two distinctly different approaches between an allroad and an RS variant do well to show the expanse between a typical consumer and an enthusiast. That the A6 allroad has returned to the USA and the RS 6 Avant has finally arrived on these shores, it seems an appropriate time to draw such a comparison.

In order to return the A6 Avant body style to American shores, Audi product planners knew they’d need to move volume in order to justify the decision. While station wagons in general are faring well nowadays, they still had to create a product with the most effective approach to mass appeal. Why not then liken it to an SUV? The brand figured that out in the early 2000s with the first allroad and has been burning the Avant torch with an A4 version for years now. The formula works, and maybe even better in the more luxurious A6 with less price sensitivity allowing for more functional kit like a height-adjustable air suspension.

The A6 allroad is powered by Audi’s 3.0-liter single turbo V6, offering 335 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. Interestingly, the engine is paired in this application with Audi’s 7-speed dual-clutch S tronic transmission even though more aggressively sporty models like the S4 and S5 have switched to the 8-speed traditional torque converter automatic. This makes for a sporting shifting experience with enough power on tap to move the big allroad from 0-60 mph in 5.1 seconds.

Painted Vesuvius Gray Metallic, with dark Sarder Brown interior paired with wood inlays, our allroad tester came nicely equipped. The Prestige package gets plenty of luxury equipment including driver assistance, dual pane acoustic glass, head-up display, Audi side assist, rear cross traffic and pre-sense rear, multicolor LED interior lighting, soft-close doors, ventilated front seats, heated front and rear seats, and manual rear side window shades. A further Luxury package adds contour front seats with massage function, Valcona leather, passenger seat memory, and extended leather on the dash, armrests, and console. Our A6 allroad weighed in at $75,890 as tested.

The 2021 A6 allroad pricing can range, basing at $65,900 and pricing up to just shy of $85,000 should you tick every box in the configurator save for maybe Audi exclusive paint. While not cheap, that is considerably more affordable than its RS sibling.

As equipped, our A6 allroad took on a high-class yet rugged tone. Parking it at the local country club or premium outlet mall garnered vocalized positive remarks from passersby. Outfitted in dark earth tones paired with aluminum brightwork and more traditional matte wood trim, the A6 allroad suggests an old money charm and timelessness that equivalently priced or specced modern crossovers can’t really achieve.

In contrast is the Audi RS 6 Avant. Though it shares the same A6-based Avant body style of the allroad, our two cars couldn’t have been much further apart in spirit. If the A6 allroad was meant to appeal to the masses in the station wagon tolerant luxury market, the RS 6 was entirely for the enthusiasts. Brand loyalists have been clamoring for the RS 6 Avant for years, no doubt Audi product planners were considerate of that when they pushed this ultimate “enthusiast unit” through the approval process.

What the allroad achieves in understated elegance, an RS 6 Avant painted in can’t-miss Tango Red with black optics visually demands your attention, then brutishly growls at you audibly with its deep baritone exhaust note. The more aggressive theme continues inside, its black hexagonal stitched sport seats accented with red stitching and carbon fiber trim on the dash that harkens the spirit of Audi Le Mans cars.

For 2021, the RS 6 Avant is only built one way. There’s no good, better, best packaging to be had. Base price is $109,000, best amongst its C-segment Audi Sport siblings, the RS 7 and RS Q8. Unlike the allroad, the RS 6 isn’t trying to win over any SUV buyers. It’s widebody fenders strike a menacing pose, as does the front clip shared with the RS 7 in a way that harkens the C3 era Audi 200 Turbos with their more narrow and menacing headlights over plainer 100 models.

In America, RS 6 buyers get some great base equipment that includes Matrix Beam LED headlights that would run substantially more in markets like Germany.

Our RS 6 tester came with other equipment including: Executive package with extended leather, heated rear seats, head-up display, and power soft-closing doors for $2,500; a Black optic package including black exterior trim, mirror housings, and 22-inch 5-spoke wheels in matte titanium finish rolling on summer tires for $2,450; a Driver assistance package with adaptive cruise control, side assist, rear cross traffic, Audi pre-sense rear, intersection assist, and traffic sign recognition for $2,250; a sport exhaust for $1,000, red brake calipers for $500, and the aforementioned carbon twill interior inlay for another $500. The RS 6 priced in at $119,840, though had the buyer chosen even more luxurious kit like carbon ceramic brakes, even more premium stepped up Bang & Olufsen audio, night vision assist, and carbon optics, that price could have jumped to $139,640.

Simply put, the RS 6 Avant is fast. Its twin turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 boasts 591 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. Paired with Audi’s familiar 8-speed Tiptronic transmission, it’s good for 0-60 mph runs of 3.5 seconds. Straight lines aren’t its only forte though, because the RS 6 makes use of Audi’s sport rear differential for torque vectoring while Dynamic all-wheel steering can also be specified. While Audi is already exceptional at making big cars like the RS 6 Avant drive smaller and lighter than they already are, the sport differential and all-wheel steering both do their part to handle exceptionally at speed.

In day-to-day life, there’s nothing subtle about a red RS 6 Avant. Opt for one in a more muted shade and perhaps you might go unnoticed, but a red RS 6 Avant gets nods of appreciation from car buffs, new partners in crime… err… performance on RS 6 specific social media groups, invitations at stoplights, and oohs and aahs at the local cars and coffee. In as much, the RS 6 is a worthy torch bearer for Ingolstadt’s long lineage of performance wagons, able to hold its own with supercars in both performance and street cred, while hauling all your groceries to boot.

Obviously, this being a comparison of two new-to-market Audi Avants in these pages is going to result in a summary that you can’t lose for choosing either. That was never a mystery. Even still, there’s a 200+% spread between the A6 allroad’s base price and the fully loaded RS 6. That suggests a versatility in range worthy of a station wagon’s own versatility. Even better, both can be specced for either the more typical consumer or the enthusiast. We suspect an enthusiast on a budget would be more than happy in an A6 allroad, perhaps built with more sporting options like black optics package with 5-spoke alloys ($1,100) or monochromatic trim ($1,000) that our tester didn’t have. And if you wanted more of a sleeper RS 6, this too can be had with neutral paint colors and traditional silver brightwork.

So there you go Audi aficionados. Audi of America has broken down that fence so that you may graze on greener grass. They’ve brought you not just one, but two Avants with a truly impressive breadth of range. It is our time to prove the business case and buy them, or forever hold our peace should we not and they go away. We’re banking on them staying though, hoping they have massive appeal to consumers and enthusiasts alike.

2021 Audi A6 allroad gallery

2021 Audi RS 6 Avant Gallery