I grew up in the back of a blue 1960s Buick station wagon. Bench rear seats. Steering column-mounted shifter. Rear-wheel drive. Turned like a cruise ship.
The 2021 Audi RS6 Avant is not that wagon.
Cul-de-sacs were the natural habitat of my mom's Buick. My scarlet RS6 tester was at home on Michigan's twisted roads. Swollen fenders like a muscle shirt over huge 22-inch wheels. Brooding headlight signature. Push the Avant's start button and it awakens like a tiger that hasn't eaten in a week.
RS is German for Rennsport — which translates to English as Racing Sport. I think Rocket Ship is more appropriate.
Case in point, my Avant (more German: Avant means "wagon") is based on the $66,895 A6 Allroad wagon I tested last summer.
Audi has made great strides since the first A8L I drove back in 2015 with erratic drive assist that would have smacked into concrete walls were it not for driver intervention. The RS6, by contrast, navigated beautifully. I took curves hands free, the wagon staying centered in the lane rather than pinballing from one side to the other.
My luxurious ride was interrupted by a cloverleaf that the RS6 attacked like Lewis Hamilton entering the Parabolica sweeper at the Monza Grand Prix. That is to say, very fast.
With its V-8 boat anchor up front, the RS6 should push like, well, a wagon around a 360-degree turn — but this is no ordinary car. Audi has blessed the RS6 not only with torque-vectoring AWD, but with Porsche Turbo-like all-wheel steer. The 5,000-pound beast rotated into the cloverleaf on a dime, then begged for more right foot.
So exhilarating is this experience that I instantly sought out the opposite cloverleaf going north. Let's do that again! I was alone this day, but I can understand how the Avant's Jekyll and Hyde nature might drive a family nuts. Be sure to warn the backseat passengers: cloverleaf ahead.
Arriving at my destination, I stopped for a few photographs and noted how much I prefer the design of the RS6 over sister Allroad. Part of that is attributed to stunning wheels, power-dome hood, red brake calipers, bazooka-sized rear tailpipes and widened stance (2.5 inches wider than standard A6).
Only a few will able to afford the RS6 Avant's prodigious talent. The beast starts at $110,045, and my tester rung the cash register at over 119 grand.
For all that dough, Audi could make a better console. The shifter is too close to the driver, meaning my 6-foot-5 frame's right leg consistently knocked it over into "manual" position. The twin screens rob the console of needed storage space.
More pleasing is the head-up display — a must-have on the Avant. Similar to Caddy's V-mode, the Avant locates an "RS" button on the steering wheel so that — with a single press — the driver can instantly transform Jekyll into Hyde with pre-configured performance modes when twisty roads loom.
Corresponding to the RS button, the head-up display turns into a digital RPM and mph indicator so you never have to take your eyes off the road as you devour traffic.
All hail the performance family wagon. You've come a long way, baby.
2021 Audi RS6 Avant
Price as tested: $119,840
EPA fuel economy estimates:15 mpg city, 22 highway
Power: 591 horsepower, 590 pound-feet of torque
Performance: 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds
Bottom line: Wagon from the gods