On paper, the RS6 Avant and the RS7 look nearly identical. On the road, though, you’d never confuse them. So how different are the two cars in terms of performance?
Not much, is the answer. Both are powered by the same 591 hp 590 lb-ft 4.0-liter V8, both use an 8-speed automatic gearbox, and both have a quattro AWD system. As it turns out, that makes them remarkably well matched.
Even their body styles don’t make one all that different from the other. Despite the RS6 Avant having a wagon body style and its associated extra metal, it only amounts to ten more lbs (around 5kg) in curb weight. That does not make a huge difference, apparently.
In the standing quarter-mile, both car run an impressive 11.6 seconds. The RS6 Avant seems to have gotten a better launch, but the RS7 slowly claws its way back to a photo finish. In the sport-mode rolling race, meanwhile, the two cars are again neck and neck.
The only really curious result is the rolling race in comfort mode. With the two nearly identical cars in nearly identical conditions receiving two nearly identical inputs, the transmission in the RS7 decides to react while the RS6 Avant’s decides not to. A quick shift down helps the Sportback speed off to an easy victory.
Those results are discounted as happenstance, though, which is kind of fair enough. It is a fine distillation of the kind of mystery that keeps automatic transmissions out of favor in high-level performance applications. That you occasionally can’t tell what the system is thinking can be frustrating.
Really, though, when it comes down to it, as you might expect, the only difference between these cars is the person behind the wheel.