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Audi RS6 Avant more suited to cross-border driving than Hong Kong roads

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 June, 2016, 2:57pm
UPDATED : Friday, 01 July, 2016, 3:47pm

This RS6 Avant Performance 4.0 TFSI Quattro looked good in Audi’s Admiralty showroom. Now its big moment on the Airport Expressway has come. The speed limit has been lifted from 80km/h to 110km/h, and the fast lane is free beyond the Disneyland turnoff. The wing mirrors are clear of incoming Toyota Alphards, and off we go.

The big Avant’s accelerator doesn’t give at the slightest touch. It seems to prefer a decisive push, and when it get one, lurches from 50km/h to 110km/h with a husky growl, like a supercar.

It is polite to warn the passengers and hold on to the dogs for such acceleration. The RS6 Avant’s V8 does 100km/h in under four seconds, and produces 700 Newton metres of torque between 1,750rpm and 6,000rpm via an eight-speed Tiptronic transmission. No jerks. No nonsense. The Avant’s top speed is an electronically limited 250km/h, but Audi can tweak it to 305km/h, and add ceramic brakes in a Dynamic package plus option (HK$122,700).

Such acceleration is all the more impressive for this big, 2,025kg car on 21-inch, five-spoke aluminium wheels. This RS6 Avant shimmers in “Sepang Blue” (but could probably part traffic better in red) with a big grille between large air intakes and angry looking LED headlights. There’s a big back end, with an electronically opened rear hatch, two large oval exhausts and powerful LED tail lights.

The rear window’s high, so you’ll really need the rear camera and mirrors for parking — assuming such a space exists for the big Avant in Hong Kong: it’s 4.979 metres long; 2.086m wide, from tip to tip of its indicator-flashing mirrors; and 1.482m tall to its titanium-look roof bars and shark-fin radio antenna.

The V8 cruises at 110km/h but dozes at 1,800rpm. It’s sufficiently fast to delight the children and quiet enough for a phone conversation; road noise is minimal. But you can’t thrash it in Hong Kong any more. It’s too crowded. The Transport Department says there were 732,495 licensed vehicles on 2,086km of public road in March 2016. That would be 351.14 vehicles per kilometre, or one every 2.84 metres of tarmac, if they were all driven at once. The Tsing Ma Bridge is packed on the morning I take out the Avant.

However, Audi Hong Kong hasn’t imported this 605-horsepower supercar for nothing. The RS6 Avant is big face in the local Audi community. “RS” cars are the Four Rings marque’s halo cars. Their “RS” initials stand for “Renn Sport” (Racing Sport), Audi’s high-performance division, which offers the Le Mans marque’s latest, fastest kit. So, the Avant has RS logos on the grille, the boot, on the square-bottomed steering wheel and, just in case you missed it, between the dashboard clocks. As a result, the test car is packed with Audi’s best electronics, but it is costly here at HK$1,798,800. That’s HK$930,837 for the car; and the remainder is largely first registration tax and warranties. Such a sum is unlikely to put off an ultra-rich Hongkonger, however.

Unsurprisingly the drive is sedate in mounting traffic, but the interior is built for long trips: it’s airy, comfortable and connected with Bluetooth and iPod slots and a six-CD player. The Bose 472-watt surround sound’s bass adjustments give RTHK the gravity of the BBC via 14 speakers. The air conditioning is responsive and “zonal”, which allows all four passengers to twiddle their respective areas’ temperatures.

The sports seats are embossed RS6 and are solid in honeycomb-stitched leather. Firm around the shoulders and bolstered at the thighs, they are easily adjusted and afford enough legroom for a two-metre-tall passenger. The passenger seat also inclines sufficiently to allow someone to sleep, and maybe later share the driving over longer distances. There is plenty of head, shoulder and foot room for two tall adults in the back seats, and a spaniel in the far back.

The luggage area extends from 465 litres with the rear seats up to 1,680 litres with them folded. The luggage bed’s dividers cleverly slide forwards and backwards on slots, and their loads can be secured further with a thoughtful movement-restriction net, say to keep your goods stowed in sudden braking.

Such knick-knacks explain why many Hongkongers have a quiet thing about estates. Wagons are good for business and families, either as repmobiles or urgent delivery vehicles. With Bluetooth and cloud connectivity, they become mobile sales offices.

The steering wheel knobs and adjacent gear flippers, levers and knobs may require a morning’s assimilation, however. Then there are different electronic settings for two screens, one that springs from the dashboard, and another between the rev and speed clocks. The Avant needs an intelligent driver.

The RS6 Avant is also a long-distance lifestyle car. In Europe, it’s for people who have flown enough and prefer to drive 1,000km, say to friends or associates, with fine dining and shopping along the way. Alternatives include the Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake, which is said to sprint to 100km/h in 4.2 seconds, has a 520-1,550-litre boot, and is listed in Hong Kong at HK$1.82 million.

The Avant is too big to enjoy here. Indeed, word in the showroom is it’s aimed at those with a fleet of about five cars, who want a vehicle for longer trips over the border. Meanwhile, the new Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is taking shape beyond Tai O. Maybe the RS6 Avant is ahead of its time.