FEW models offer the practicality of an estate car matched by the driving dynamics of a sports car, but the Audi RS 6 Avant does exactly that.
With its estate-car proportions, the Audi is powered by a twin-turbo, eight-cylinder, 4.0-litre, TFSI petrol engine delivering 600PS and 800Nm of torque. And that results in a 0-62mph sprint time of just 3.6 seconds and top speed that is electronically-governed to 155mph.
The RS 6 Avant is certainly an attention-grabber with its muscular stance. And although it is based on the A6 Avant, everything is new apart from thefront doors, roof and tailgate. It comprisesRS-specific parts with 21-inch wheels complete with flared arches that add 40mm to the width of the car, RS Matrix laser headlights with darkened trims, a three-dimensional honeycomb grille finished in gloss black and a new RS bumper that extends to the headlights and takes its inspiration from the R8 supercar.
The interior continues the sporty theme with black leather upholstered RS sports seats with honeycomb stitching and RS embossing. There are large aluminium gear shift paddles on the flat-bottomed steering wheel and when any of the doors are opened, the Audi emblem is projected onto the road.
On-board technology is impressive with a smart touchscreen to access the likes of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, the navigation system and car settings. And there is a completely separate panel for all the climate control operations. The virtual cockpit display can be personalised to taste and also offers information on lap times, g-force and other performance-related data when driving in RS mode.
Priced at Â£97,145 (before options) and with running costs that add up thanks to its combined fuel economy of 22.6mpg with carbon emissions of 283g/km, it's not exactly a cheap option. And that's with its cost-cutting 48-volt mild hybrid technology and cylinder-on-demand set-up that shuts off four cylinders when they are not needed.
But that's where any negative aspects of this car end, because the driving dynamics are guaranteed to lighten any mood.
The eight-speed automatictransmissionis beautifully timedandyou can take extra control via the steering wheel-mounted paddles and there aredrive modes called Efficiency, Comfort, Auto and Dynamic. In addition, there is a rather tempting button on the steering wheel to access RS Modes 1 and 2. These open the RS-specific displays in the virtual cockpit and influence the steering, gear shifts, handling, suspension, all-wheel drive and even the noise levels. The RS Mode 2 also deactivates the Electronic Stabilisation Control.
When it comes to performance, the RS 6 Avant is a pure delight to drive. It effortlessly cruises at motorway speeds eating the miles and is deceptively agile in town centre settings, although you will need an extra-long parking space as the vehicle stretches almost five metres in length.
But it's out on the quieter B roads that the vehicle really comes alive with its excellent grip into bends and beautifully weighted progressive steering and lowered suspension for exceptional balance.
There is ample space for two adults of six-foot-plus to sit comfortably in the back of the RS 6 Avant, and the storage options are impressive too with a powered tailgate offering access to a boot that can swallow 565 litres of kit. This capacity increases to 1,680 litres with the 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat and there is a boot net and a couple of side compartments to prevent items moving around.
Additional storage within the cabin includes a lockable glovebox, a fairly shallow central cubby box where the USB ports and wireless charging pad are located, nets in the front seat backs, door bins, front cup holders and two more in the rear fold-down armrest, along with a small tray.
Factor in a raft of safety kit, including Matrix LED headlights, lane departure warning, Audi pre-sense front, camera-based road sign recognition, Isofix child seat mountings, cruise control with speed limiter, a full suite of airbags and Audi's quattro all-wheel drive system and this vehicle is the complete all-round package.