After years of longing, our unicorn-wagon dreams became reality; the Audi RS 6 Avant is coming to America. Finally. We’ll have a first drive review shortly, when the embargo for driving impressions lifts. In the meantime, we caught up with Audi’s senior product planner, Anthony Foulk, to understand what caused the RS 6 Avant to make the long-awaited trip across the pond.
There were two enablers, Foulk said. The first was the success of the A4 Allroad. Audi’s slightly-lifted and over-fender-clad Allroad was so successful, it eclipsed the sales of the A4 Avant wagon, effectively killing that model. The A4 Allroad’s success built a business case to bring the current A6 Allroad over from Europe. Since the A6 Allroad's 3.0-liter V6 powertrain is already homologated here (in our A6 and A7), bringing over the A6 Avant’s wagon body was simple.
“And when you bring one variant of the body style into the U.S. to get that homologated, you can bring the other trims that share that body,” Foulk said. This allows the RS 6’s svelte body to prowl our shores. The second factor also related to homologation. Because the RS 6 shares a drivetrain with the RS Q8 and RS 7, the Avant’s go-fast bits were already pounding pavement stateside. When you combine interest in the Allroad’s wagon body with convenient homologation, the moment was right for RS 6 Avant greatness.
“It’s a wider story, too” Foulk said. “For years we’ve had big demand from customers and enthusiasts for an RS 6 Avant, as well as an A6 Allroad. So we brought in the previous-generation A4 Allroad, and it did very well. So it kind of comes from two different directions. On the RS side, if you’ve already got the body style here, that means you can throw the drivetrain from the RS Q8 and RS 7 in there. And we know people have been asking for this for a long time, so once we knew the demand was there, and could kind of quantify it. We knew it was worth bringing the RS 6 Avant in.”
Despite the model’s historic holdout from enthusiasts, Foulk says there’s little risk in bringing it to the US market. Audi is convinced that an enthusiast following for the RS 6 exists here. “We know that people have been clamoring for it for years,” Foulk said. “We also love the car internally. This thing can go 190 mph. That’s astonishing in a station wagon. The only risk is ‘where does the volume go?’ and we’re going to let the market speak on that. It’s not a limited edition, it’s what the customer demand is.”
More good news; the success of this RS 6 could further open the floodgates. Not necessarily for more European rarities – more streamlined and globalized product platforms mean we don’t miss much from Europe anymore – but for new Audi RS models entirely, Foulk said.
“With Audi Sport and the RS models, we’re always working to bring a full portfolio. The more consistent and full your portfolio (is as an automaker), the more energy you have behind that brand to get people to come in,” Foulk said. “We have to work toward this being successful and to continue bringing more and more RS models. The hope is to continue to offer these RS models, and to bring even more in the future.”