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Audi RS 6 GT: the IMSA homage made real. Image by Audi.

Audi RS 6 GT: the IMSA homage made real
Just 660 examples of the 630hp Audi RS 6 GT Avant run-out model will be built, with a focus on driving dynamics above all else.
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What's all this about?

It's the Audi RS 6 GT, and isn't it just utterly, utterly glorious? We'll give you a few minutes to just pore over the picture gallery and soak in the magnificence.

It is very nice. But, um... do I have to have it in all the showy motorsport decals?

You absolutely don't, but allow us to go through precisely what the RS 6 GT is all about and we can maybe convince you that you definitely need this wrap, which is called the 'Heritage' look by the way. So we're currently on the fourth, 'C8' iteration of Audi's mighty mega-estate (it's only sold as an Avant these days, and has been since the C7 appeared back in 2013), which landed in 2019. Originally developing 600hp and 800Nm, this hench-as-hell wagon ran 0-62mph in 3.6 seconds and had to be limited to 174mph. Fast enough in anyone's book, you might reckon.

I might. Yet I have a feeling there's a significant 'but' on the way.

You're prescient. But that clearly wasn't enough for the powers-that-be at Ingolstadt, which decided to launch the upgraded performance model of the C8 RS 6 ready for the 2023 model year. Gains of 30hp and 50Nm took headline figures from the 4.0-litre biturbo V8 under the bonnet to 630hp and 850Nm, trimming another two-tenths off the 0-62mph time and coming with the option of shifting the limiter to 189mph. Reduced sound-deadening removed 8kg from the kerb weight, while also promising to increase the soundtrack goodness of that V8 motor, and a set of lightweight 22-inch wheels in grippier tyres sought to improve the Audi's already-pretty-damned-talented handling. And yet, there's still room for more. Which is where the GT comes into play.

Goodness, Audi surely hasn't given the RS 6 any more power, has it?

No, it hasn't, but what it has done is given the car even more dynamic focus - and stripped out another useful chunk of weight. It takes its visual inspiration directly from the astounding 90 quattro IMSA GTO competition vehicle from 1989, which in turn informed a concept version of the RS 6 which appeared in 2020, called... the RS 6 GTO. So the GT is the production-ready example the RS 6 GTO, in turn itself a homage to the IMSA 90. And that's why you must specify it in Arkona White and then tick the order box for 'Heritage wrap'. It's proper, see?

You're starting to convince me. But humour me: what other colours and wraps are available?

For the entire production run - which will be just 660 units for the entire global marketplace, with a mere 60 of those heading to the UK - there are five main body colours available, three of which can be teamed with graphics. Audi UK has decided to only take those three wrappable colours, which are Arkona, as well as the RS-specific Nardo Grey and also Mythos Black. With Arkona and the Heritage wrap, you get white 22-inch wheels of a design specific to the GT, while those wanting decals on the Nardo and Mythos cars get a more sedate grey-and-black graphics package, with either high-gloss or matte black alloys. You can opt to have all three colours without any wrap at all too, of course.

So is that it for the aesthetic side of things? Because something about the GT looks very different.

If you're struggling to pinpoint what it is, allow us to tell you. This is the only RS 6 Avant that is ever going to make production without a set of roof rails on it. Yep, look again and you'll see the top of the Audi estate is featureless, a neat visual trick which lowers the entire car (it also rides 10mm lower than the regular C8, although we'll come onto that later). There are also clever trompe-l'oeil which convince you the car is wider than other RS 6s, even though it really isn't. These include the black-painted Singleframe grille, which has a different shape to other RS 6 models, the air vents in the rear of the front wings (which reduce arch pressure and improve brake cooling too), a rear diffuser with vertical details to give the impression of added width, and a neat little ruse at the base of the tailgate which changes the appearance of the entire volume and gives the car a sensation of extra broadness. The overall effects of these taken together are that the RS 6 GT has a serious amount of presence, even more so than the RS 6 performance it is based upon already has.

Is it all purely styling, though? I thought you said there was some weight loss involved here?

No, what you can't initially see about those front wings and the bonnet is that they are all made of carbon fibre - a first for any production Audi. The bonnet is finished in many layers of paint to give it the smooth external look, but pop its catch and raise it, and the beautiful exposed carbon weave is present on its underside. Along with the forged alloys, lighter than the rims on the RS 6 performance, and a set of jaw-dropping carbon-backed bucket seats in the cabin, all this lot shaves 15kg off the source material's kerb weight, to a 2,075kg total for the GT.

That's not exactly... a superleggera, is it?

No, but you're talking about a four-wheel-drive estate that's capable of nigh-on 200mph, here, it's never going to be a 1.3-tonne flyweight. Usefully, most of that 15kg weight saving is taken off the nose and the unsprung mass of the car, which should help sharpen up the dynamic experience even further, while the 0-62mph time comes down to a scintillating 3.3-seconds sprint; 0-124mph takes a mere 11.5 seconds for this thing. And there's more to the RS 6 GT than pure speed and power, too.

Such as?

It gains full coilover suspension with three-way adjustable dampers - not done on a button in the cabin, but via the top mounts themselves. This is a serious and lightweight suspension set-up, and it has already been used to great effect on the run-out RS 4 and RS 5 competition models lower down Audi's food chain. Further, there's the 10mm-lower ride height we mentioned earlier, as well as higher spring rates, and anti-roll bars which are 30 per cent stiffer up front and a massive 80 per cent tauter at the rear.

Also, as the GT gains the RS Dynamics Package plus, giving it that 189mph limited top speed, it has the quattro sport differential on the rear axle. Audi's engineers have tuned this specifically for the GT's make-up, to make it more tail-happy than ever, and this is on top of the latest locking centre diff (as already seen on the performance) that already has a 40:60 front-to-rear torque split. RS ceramic brakes are standard-fit to provide plenty of stopping power, while the Continental SportContact 7 tyres used are said to have added grip in both wet and dry conditions, and a greater resistance to high-speed understeer. They're employed on the performance as it is, though.

This all sounds very intense - will the RS 6 GT still be as good at regular daily-driving duties?

It should be, because the lower weight and lighter wheels hopefully make for smoother ride comfort. However, if you're worried on that score, Audi will offer the GT with two less-focused suspension set-ups, which are RS Sport springs with Dynamic Ride Control dampers, or full RS Adaptive Air.

Anything else that you've missed as you've gone through the car with a fine-toothed comb?

Just a few pointers. Aside from all the visual widening tricks, the GT has both a deeper front splitter and a truly serious double-deck, 'pass-through' spoiler at the rear, which mark it out when compared to other RS 6s. The side skirts are enhanced and feature inserts, while the door mirror caps are rendered in carbon. This limited-edition, run-out model includes bespoke boot and front wing badging (the latter being a discreet 'GT' legend), while inside there's lots of Dinamica microfibre, unique red-and-copper contrast stitching, 'RS 6 GT' emblems on the floor mats and the head restraints of those exquisite seats, crimson-red seatbelts, and a graphic on the centre console which denotes the exact build-run serial number of the GT in question - so it won't just say '1 of 660' in every car, it will say precisely which one of those 660 examples it is.

Go on, then; have you got a price for me?

Yes. We have. OK... ready for this? Considering that the RS 6 performance it is based upon starts at 115,480 (at the time of writing), you might be surprised to learn that each of the 60 GTs coming to the UK will kick off at 176,975. We'll save you the bother of whipping your calculator out: that's a 61,495 premium. Mind, you're paying for the speed, the handling, the rarity and the inherent specialness of the thing, because this is very likely to be the last petrol-powered RS 6 we'll ever see. It's also the only RS 6 which is not entirely built on the production line at Neckarsulm, but instead it is hand-finished at Bllinger Hfe, the carbon-neutral facility where Audi builds the R8 supercar (also soon-to-be-deceased and blessed with a hyper-collectible GT run-out model) and the e-tron GT electric vehicle. A team of seven specially trained engineers take a performance and fit all the GT-specific bits to it - the bonnet, the wings, the splitter and spoiler, the coilover suspension, the diffuser and the interior trimmings - in a process that takes one day per car.

Audi seems to be saying goodbye to a lot of its models lately, doesn't it?

It does. Not only have we got the GT sign-off versions of both this RS 6 and the R8, as previously mentioned, but the 25-year-old-plus TT is also being quietly ushered out of the building into the long, dark night. The regular TFSI cars are presently being sold in 'Final Edition' specifications in the UK, but for the top-dog RS variant there was a special model along much the same lines as the R8 GT and RS 6 GT; wildly revised looks and different aero, hyper-limited build run, massively inflated price tag and so on. Only it wasn't called the TT RS GT, it was named the TT RS Iconic Edition. Presumably, three pairs of letters together was a bridge too far for Ingolstadt.

Last question, then: would you pay for the privilege of an Audi RS 6 GT?

Oh, absolutely. If we could even remotely afford it. The 600hp C8 RS 6 was a big dynamic step forward over the still-excellent C7 it replaced, while the performance took things on to another level again. There's every indication the GT will go even deeper into the realm of automotive dynamic greatness, so what you're looking at here is possibly going to be the greatest fast estate car of all time. We can't wait to find out, but in the meantime, we'll be dreaming of owning our own RS 6 GT in Arkona White with the full Heritage wrap. Obviously.

Matt Robinson - 5 Feb 2024

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