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On Track At Willow Springs In Audi's RS6 GT, The Coolest New Car You Can Buy

The Audi RS6 Avantis already a blisteringly fast and desirable vehicle, but that hasn’t stopped Audi from one-upping itself by introducing the track-focused, Audi 90 IMSA GTO–inspired RS6 Avant GT. Unfortunately, Audi is only producing 660 RS6 GTs for the entire world, and just 85 are allotted for the United States, so anyone who gets to drive one of these wicked wagons is quite a lucky soul. I feel very fortunate to have spent two hours behind the wheel of a prototype on an empty Streets of Willow at Willow Springs Raceway, in what was one of the highlights of my career. This is the swan song for the current RS6 Avant, and what a way to go out.

Full disclosure: Audi rented out Streets of Willow at Willow Springs Racewayand invited little old me to drive the RS6 GT on an empty track for a few hours. I got to share the track with the legendary Audi 90 IMSA GTO car that inspired the RS6 GT, and compare it side-by-side with the RS6 Performance. It was an incredible morning, and I am very grateful for the opportunity. Thanks Audi!

Photo: Audi
Photo: Audi

While the speed freaks may wish for additional power over the RS6 Performance’s 621 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque, the RS6 GT doesn’t answer that call, but it’s still a tenth of a second faster to 60 mph than the Performance at an Audi-claimed 3.3 seconds. The U.S.-spec RS6 GT is blessed with a 33-ish-pound weight reduction compared to the plebian RS6 Performance, with most of that weight loss coming from the transition to adjustable coilover suspension, gargantuan carbon-ceramic brakes, and the GT’s carbon-fiber hood and front fenders. Those coilovers lower the GTs ride height by 0.4 inches compared to the Performance’s air suspension, and the transmission and differential tuning are more aggressive in the GT, though the tuning changes were pretty imperceptible from behind the wheel.

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Audi’s legendary Quattro all-wheel-drive system keeps this big wagon on the friendly side of fun, bestowing the driver with ridiculous confidence after just a few short laps. I drove it back-to-back with an RS6 Performance, which illuminated the benefits of the GT’s coilovers, lower ride height, and carbon brakes.

Photo: Logan K. Carter
Photo: Logan K. Carter

On track, the GT feels more buttoned-down when compared to the RS6 Performance, with the coilovers virtually eliminating body roll and the ceramic brakes seemingly never breaking a sweat. The RS6 GT is an intoxicating machine to drive hard, with the twin turbo 4.0-liter V8 providing gobs of power and a heavenly soundtrack, Quattro to keep you safe, and chassis tech to keep things fun. It’s still a big, heavy Audi, so it’ll understeer if you’re driving poorly or oversteer if you drive it properly. The steering isn’t especially communicative, but I’m still able to feel what the front wheels are doing most of the time. The 8-speed automatic transmission does a respectable job of choosing the right gear for you, though I sometimes found myself wishing for a more eager downshift tendency, which can always be achieved by using the wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

Hopping into the RS6 Performance after several laps in the GT revealed a noticeable difference in vehicle demeanor. The Performance exhibits more body roll, its brakes don’t feel quite as sharp, and I missed the GT’s bespoke Continental SportContact 7 tires. The transmission tuning felt the same between the two cars, with seriously rapid and aggressive upshifts, and the differential tuning also felt very similar, allowing for some slip in the rear to keep the big wagon feeling lively.

Photo: Logan K. Carter
Photo: Logan K. Carter

Beauty is subjective, but my jaw dropped every time I stepped out of the car and admired its exterior. Even putting the special graphics and IMSA GTO inspiration aside, the GT has a mean stance. The manhole-cover-sized 22-inch six-spoke white wheels tuck nicely under the wide fenders thanks to the lower ride height, and there are new air vents aft of the front wheels that look awesome. The nose of the car is almost entirely dedicated to the gaping maw of a grille, and the rear spoiler, while relatively subtle, pairs with a new diffuser to give the GT’s rear end a tasteful modded look. Every aspect of this car’s appearance, from its menacing stance to its ground-hugging bodywork to its historical graphics, is a unique brand of Euro cool that only Audi can execute. The RS6 Performance is already a looker, but the RS6 GT’s unique styling cues turn this station wagon into one of, if not the, coolest new car on the road.

Inside the GT is business as usual for Audi, with all the creature comforts you could ever want from a luxury car. GT-specific niceties include the obligatory special edition build number etched into the center console, GT-specific red seat belts and stitching, RS6 GT badging, and a unique red carbon-fiber weave on some interior surfaces. It will not be sold with a sunroof, but that’s not a bad thing in my opinion. In the U.S., we won’t have the option of adding the carbon bucket seats that this Euro-spec test car was fitted with, which is a shame as they were comfortable and kept my bony butt securely bolted down. You still get reasonably spacious rear seats and a versatile trunk space, so it’s still the ultimate car for families who have a need for speed.

Photo: Logan K. Carter
Photo: Logan K. Carter

How closely the RS6 GT is tied to the Audi 90 IMSA GTO beyond styling cues is questionable, but Audi says racing really does inform the development of its road car technology. I only experienced the GT on a smooth race track, so I can’t speak to its daily drivability, but even with the coilover suspension it shouldn’t be anywhere near uncomfortable, and you can option back the air suspension if you want. U.S. pricing hasn’t been announced yet, but since the RS6 Performance starts at $125,800, I would estimate the RS6 GT’s price to be closer to $175,000. If you can afford it and you love cars, driving, and looking cool, buy an Audi RS6 GT and take it to the track once or twice or every single weekend. You won’t regret it.

Sadly we won’t get these bucket seats in the U.S. - Photo: Logan K. Carter
Sadly we won’t get these bucket seats in the U.S. - Photo: Logan K. Carter
Photo: Logan K. Carter
Photo: Logan K. Carter
Photo: Logan K. Carter
Photo: Logan K. Carter
Photo: Logan K. Carter
Photo: Logan K. Carter

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