by: George Achorn
Editor’s Note: This article originally ran in the Q1_2023 issue of quattro Magazine. If you would like to subscribe to quattro Magazine, please join Audi Club here.
It may seem counterintuitive to go all the way to Germany to take a closer look at a U.S.-specific Audi RS 6 special edition from ABT Sportsline, but that’s precisely what we found ourselves doing in the peak of autumn. While in Germany to see off Audi Club guest drivers on the Audi Dolce Vita driving tour (pp. 42-43), a quick stop at ABT’s Kempten headquarters was a must (see also: Bavarian Roadtrip, pp. 44-47). Who were we to say “no” when they offered to flip us the keys of a black demo unit they’d built to keep at their Germany-based world headquarters.
ABT Sportsline devised the RS 6+ specifically with the North American market in mind. This longtime German tuning haus has experienced a fair share of success over the last few years building micro-batch series of modified Audi models. In the case of the RS 6 Avant, this began with the RS 6-R (see also: Higher Learning wilder RS 6-R, Q4_2021 – pp. 38-39), progressed to the more subtle RS 6-S, and now culminates with the “plus” that seems to split the difference.
Key to the visual appeal of these RS 6 Avants from ABT is a modular carbon fiber body kit. Using different components, ABT is able to create looks unique to the “R”, the “S” and the “+”. In the case of the RS 6+’s bodywork, this includes a front lip with front blades, front flics, mirror caps, a front grille extension, side skirt extensions front and rear, a rear valance, and roof spoiler. Completing the look are a set of 22-inch ABT HR wheels.
An ABT exhaust system includes a new middle and rear resonators exiting out four matte black stainless exhaust tips. Power is also augmented with engine controller increasing power to 690 hp and 649-lb-ft of torque.
Inside, the tailored ABT experience continues with plenty of carbon fiber, including shift knob, shift paddles, dashboard side covers, “1 of 25” door sills, “RS 6+” mats. A cool and practical detail from ABT is a trick fold-out trunk liner that protects the paint of the rear bumper should the Avant’s hauling capabilities be utilized.
ABT HQ is just an exit off of the autobahn. That’s incredibly fortunate when you’ve got a short time to consider the capabilities of such a car. Though earmarked for America, the RS 6+ is every bit the massaged Autobahn-stormer you’d expect. This means that while most all of the RS 6+ specimens will be bound for U.S. interstates, such a car is more than comfortable and capable being turned loose on an unlimited speed stretch of German tarmac.
Differences between the stock RS 6 and the RS 6+ are immediately obvious. The moment you press the starter button, you are greeted by a more ominous exhaust note. While not obnoxiously loud, there’s no mistaking the RS 6+ has more serious intentions. Rolling out onto the B-rode that leads to the Autobahn, the suspension improvements are also obvious. The car is more taught at all levels, which in turn also improves turn-in. Hitting the on-ramp and merging out to the left-most high-speed lane, the extra 100 hp or so also makes substantial difference, pushing you back into the sport seat more forcefully.
During our drive, we spent a lot of time on the autobahn where it is meant to thrive. It gathers speed intensely, yet cruises at healthy three-digit speeds in considerable comfort. No doubt the added aero helps keep the big Avant planted as it slips in and out of warp. On B-roads around the outskirts of Kempten the car isn’t overly harsh.
While most familiar with the aftermarket will tell you that improved handling, sound and acceleration is precisely what tuning any RS 6 will net you. However, rather than piecemealing a car together with components from various manufacturers, the magic with the ABT packages in a lot of ways is the sum of the parts.
ABT isn’t just an Audi tuner. They’re also a German market Audi dealer who fields Audi Sport customer teams in races like the 24 Hours of Nürburgring and has supported Audi factory racing efforts in series such as Formula E and the DTM. Their production quality and cohesiveness of build is virtually OEM.
The resulting product in cases like the RS 6+ is both a turn-key solution and yet something more exclusive and capable than a standard RS 6 Avant, yet a known quantity that is sought-after by enthusiasts around the world. That there are a series of these cars make them more of a known quantity, and sought-after by enthusiasts specifically seeking an ABT Sportsline build.
If you’re one of those enthusiasts, you may want to contact ABT. While not all 25 had been spoken for at the time of this writing, we are very aware that a few have already been built.