"In last month’s piece the Audi TT RS was introduced as my chosen test car to answer the question of whether or not all-wheel driven sports cars are underrated. There’s a problem though, I’ve accidentally chosen a "
Audi RS6 v Audi R8
Audi v Audi
Under no ordinary circumstances would you compare an Audi RS6 to an Audi R8. One’s a large estate that weighs about the same as a small asteroid, the other is a supercar with a mid-mounted V10 that gives you what can only be described as the ‘special tingles’.
Yet in pure, simple terms of driving pleasure, can the beastly RS6 ever be as enjoyable to drive as an R8? Can you actually compare the two cars despite the fact they’re two completely different species? Actually, yes, because driving enjoyment is more or less universal. You can find driving pleasure in most cars out there, especially in cars like this that are made for that exact purpose. So, RS6 vs R8. It’s like the Green Bay Packers vs Chelsea, but we’re doing it anyway.
You approach the RS6 and you see an estate car. It’s large, it has five doors, and has an estate-shaped rump. The spec-sheet isn’t all that encouraging – this is a 2,600kg car give or take, and weight is not something you need to be looking for when you’re looking for driving joy. However, you’ve been deceived. This isn’t an estate. This is actually a muscle car.
Under the big bonnet is a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine that – in this ‘Performance’ trim – produces over 600bhp. By anybody’s standards that is an enormous amount of horsepower, and it’s put to the ground via all four wheels – the Audi way. This means your 2.6-ton RS6 can get from a standstill to 62mph in 3.7-seconds, and my goodness does that leave you gurning like a sherbet-fuelled 8-year old at Legoland. It’s mostly the shock of it. You know you’re sat in a heavy car. Inside it has the comfortable, luxurious interior space Audi is known for. You’re sat back, you’re relaxed, you’ve got air suspension, a B&O sound system, all the sorts of toys you’d expect, then boom! The powerful V8 unit rumbles you to a silly speed in practically no time at all.
There’s a true split personality effect with the Audi RS6. It can be so quiet you can hardly hear the engine when you’re trundling along the motorway without a care, but it can also be absolutely mad when you tell it to. You can see why many people class it as the ultimate daily driver, and during my time with it it also gobbled up two BMW M4’s on the wet and muddy roads the Quattro system can handle with its eyes closed. It’s a devourer of roads, especially when the conditions turn poor and other machines find themselves a little lacking in confidence.
The Audi R8 might not have long left in production if you believe the rumours going around about Audi’s future plans right now. If that’s true, it’ll be a damn shame as this is a quite spectacular machine. Obviously the dominating aspect of this car is the 5.2-litre normally-aspirated (yes, they do exist still!) V10 engine, and it’s a real beauty. In normal trim, it puts out around 540 horses, which is plenty, but it’s the way the power picks up high in the rev-band and the beautiful engine note coming from behind your head that really makes driving an R8 a wonderful experience.
Newcomers to an R8 might be intimidated by the way it looks, but in truth the R8 is an incredibly easy car to drive around, despite its impressive performance figures and sleek, low stance. It behaves much like any Audi when you’re not driving rapidly, and there’s an assortment of different modes to play with to configure the car to your needs. Because of this, it would be an ideal first supercar for any newcomer to high-end performance. It’s truly a car that can do it all.
Though the R8 isn’t blessed with the feel of a Porsche 911, it does have a razor-sharp front end that allows you to really stick the car wherever you want it on the road and the four-wheel drive Quattro system in the R8 is rear-biased until it needs from front-end grab, so you do get that rear-wheel driven feel.
Aside from nearly everything mechanical, the biggest difference between these cars is the feeling of naughtiness. The RS6 feels exceptionally naughty, a car like that simply shouldn’t behave like such a lout, but it does, and the fact you can make it do quite remarkable speeds just makes you feel like a right rotter. The R8 doesn’t really have that, but it is a more rewarding car to pilot, obviously, and the engine is an absolute work of art.
If we had to point at a car and say ‘that’s more fun’, we’d probably aim the finger at the RS6. It makes you laugh, it makes you feel filthy, and it’s eaten two BMW M cars. Naughty. We like naughty.
CLICK TO ENLARGE