It’s still just an unconfirmed rumor at this point, but automotive news-media outlets are reporting that Audi is planning on reintroducing the A6 Avant—that’s a Touring or sport wagon in BMW nomenclature—back to the U.S. market after a hiatus that spanned the outgoing generation which debuted for 2012. Unveiled last year, the current C8 is the fifth generation of the lineup, and appears quite attractive in Avant or wagon form.
In addition to a long-roof A6 returning to the U.S. Audi lineup for the first time since 2011, an RS6 Avant is also rumored to be scheduled for its U.S. market debut for the 2020 model year. Currently, the only available information about the RS6 is relevant to the outgoing generation which will soon be replaced, but it’s still an absolute powerhouse with performance versions coming with nearly 600 horsepower and comparable torque.
Unfortunately, at the same time that Audi seems like it’s to give this age-tested segment another test with new metal, BMW is said to have no plans to bring their newest G21 3 Series sport wagon to the U.S., thus abandoning the segment completely, while crossover SAVs and SACs take precedence. Even more frustrating for enthusiasts, BMW has some perfect weapons within its arsenal that are readily available in Europe to combat the latest offensive from Neckarsulm, but they just won’t sell them in the U.S.
Right now, the newest generation of the A6 Avant is only available with a choice of either turbocharged four- or six-cylinder engines, although there are also a few diesels available in Europe that have a very low probability of making it over here. Styling, both interior and exterior, is also refreshing and crisp, even though some of the underlying classic Audi characteristics that we’ve become familiar with over the past twenty years remain present.
Attractive looks, innovative design, and potential drivetrains aside, the A6 Avant also offers nearly 60 cubic feet of storage space—the kind of interior hauling capacity that shouldn’t just be reserved for SUVs.
Then there’s the potential for an RS6 Avant. The outgoing example uses a four-liter twin-scroll, twin-turbo V8 which hit the market several years ago; this engine uses the same general layout that BMW first brought to production back in 2008 in the form of the 4.4-liter N63, where the turbochargers are mounted between the cylinder heads. Audi’s four-liter unit has been steadily gaining horsepower since it was first released, just like its BMW counterparts, and Mercedes-Benz has also joined the competition with its own four-liter that follows the same hot-vee design.
Available in a variety of output versions that are comparable to the different iterations of the N63 and S63, the high-test mill fitted to the RS6 Avant develops 556 horsepower from 5,700 to 6,600 rpm and 516 pound-feet of torque for a lengthy plateau from 1,750 to 5,500. Midway through C7 RS6 production, Audi improved performance by way of the RS6 Performance, which offered 597 horsepower from 6,100 to 6,800 rpm and 553 pound-feet of torque from 2,500 to 5,500.
Last year, to give the third generation of the RS6 a fitting send off for its final production year, the Nogaro Edition (think of the classic Nogaro Blue color from the B5 and B6-generations) came with 705 horsepower and 649 pound-feet of torque. The result is a family wagon that sprints from a dead stop to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, with a top speed of 199 mph and all-weather performance, thanks to all-wheel drive.
Of course, BMW has plenty of alternatives that it could develop and bring to market as well. The current G31 5 Series is available in M550i xDrive trim, which, with 444 horsepower and 479 pound-feet, would make an excellent competitor to an S6 Avant. The current 530e, 530i, and 540i could also dispose of the A6 range with ease, while grafting the M5 drivetrain into the touring body—something BMW hasn’t done since the E61 signed off back in 2010—would be the ideal match for the new RS6, which is sure to be a serious performer in its category.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy Audi AG.]