Posted Aug 5, 2021 11:49 AM
Charles René La Presse
Once considered an essential means of transportation that helped ensure the demographic development of North American suburbs, the wagon has become over the years a niche product on its land largely burnt by SUVs. Under German influence, much of its focus has been on performance, an unlikely mix that includes the practicality of a large trunk.
The RS 6 Avant together with its only direct rival, the E 63 S wagon, devote themselves to this concept to push it to its peak. Under clothing which is all in all discreet at first glance hides a striking power capable of bending the backs of many sportswomen from select bloodlines.
From angles to curves
Basically speaking, the presentation of the RS 6 Avant and E 63 AMG differs greatly from an aesthetic point of view. The brand’s proposal with rings spreads out many angles to establish its presence. Obviously, the theme is concentrated around the large front grille, the dismal appearance of which exposes a need to cool the imposing mechanics that it hides. The wings are also huge, giving a beefy and well-seated impression. The side view presents a desire to break free from the long rear overhang that traditionally characterizes station wagons, as do the pillars which present a less pronounced angle. You can’t ignore the size of the optional 22-inch rims that cement its presentation, along with the oval exhaust pipes.
In contrast, the competitor of Mercedes-Benz has a much more conventional posture. Longer in appearance despite an identical length just under 5 m, it has a greater propensity to curves to respect the stylistic language of the manufacturer. Like the models from the AMG barn, its almost oval grille is crossed by horizontal rods. The profile extends a different reasoning, with a long rear overhang and smaller rims that are limited to 20 inches in diameter.
Techno and classical
These major differences continue in the themes of the two interiors. The RS 6 goes uncluttered with taut lines that stretch horizontally all along the dashboard. The glossy black and very present, encompassing the main screen of the multimedia system in a shape reminiscent of an electric guitar. Audi puts much more emphasis on the touch, while all the keys are concentrated on a lower screen which confirms the manipulations by means of haptic feedback.
The E 63, for its part, bathes us in a more classic and more charged luxury atmosphere. The manufacturer’s excellence in this area is cultivated in the variation of textures and the use of a greater number of materials than at Audi. In short, we feel in a more expensive vehicle. The less shiny aspect of the composition concerns the tactile buttons added to the steering wheel which greatly complicate handling and which are often accidentally caught when taking a turn. Audi does a much better job on this front with a more intuitive menu construction and a steering wheel with fewer buttons, all of them physical.
On the practical side of the offer, these two contenders offer a very spacious interior that can accommodate at least four adults of average size. The rear cargo space is larger on the Mercedes side (640 L against 565 L) and the latter seems a little more practical with its more storage space.
Hearts that beat in eight beats
Obviously, you don’t buy these two sacred German monsters just because you want to enjoy spacious interiors. Their Olympian form – it’s in tune with the times – is provided by their two 4L V8s whose power is boosted by two turbochargers. The RS 6 benefits from a small electric motor in the form of an alternator-starter which can provide a small power gain and a smoother restart. On balance, the E 63 squeezes 603 hp out of its hand-assembled unit and 627 lb-ft of torque. The RS 6, meanwhile, is slightly behind with 591 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. At an estimated 0-100 km / h, there is a draw (3.5 s for the Mercedes, 3.6 s for the Audi).
But obviously, this technical presentation only presents a tiny part of the portrait. If you want a more weighted method marked by a more subtle soundtrack, the RS 6 meets this need best. The more reserved character of its mechanics, which is despite everything extremely eloquent in its barely restrained ardor, clashes with the expressiveness of the E 63. The latter seems more connected to its roots in motorsport with a heavy rumbling and more accentuated. , but seems a little less explosive than the brand’s V8 with the rings at mid-speed. One thing is certain, regardless of the angle of analysis, the acceleration produced by these two exceptional mechanics takes your breath away and you never seem to have a lack of traction thanks to their extraordinary acuity in distributing the torque well to the four wheels.
2000 kg ballerinas
One cannot escape it, with their imposing stature and the many technological elements which compose them, the RS 6 and E 63 are heavy, very heavy even. Their weight exceeds 2000 kg. To counter the undesirable effects of this heaviness as well as its obvious length, Audi has concentrated on the rear axle of the RS 6. There, we discover an active rear steering which can steer the wheels up to 3 degrees of angle. at low speed and 2 degrees when the pace increases. This greatly reduces the turning radius, but above all gives an impression of striking lightness to this car. The continuously adjustable air suspension allows you to maintain good comfort while firming everything on command.
The Mercedes for its part also benefits from an air suspension which succeeds a little better in suspending the passenger compartment above the rough edges. However, it seems heavier in bends, while the roll is more present. However, we feel more at one with the machine. This E 63 puts the sensations in the foreground with a more communicative and firm direction, but a little less direct. The adjustment of the suspension elements of the Mercedes also ensures a more flowed behavior on the transverse axis: it plunges less under heavy braking and rears less under strong thrust. In both cases, the braking power is proportional to the immense power with a slight advantage at the E 63 on the pedal adjustment. Its 9-speed transmission also destabilizes the downshifting chassis less than the Audi’s 8-speed gearbox. In short, two similar approaches, but very different at the same time.
As electrification is boosted by a succession of government announcements around the globe, these V8-powered superwagons live on borrowed time. The fact remains that these majestic creations represent a fascinating feat, that of distilling so much performance in such a functional configuration. They are obviously thoroughbred sportswomen, but their abilities fuel dreams and their price tag exceeding $ 120,000 inevitably limits their accessibility.
Despite its very convincing introduction, the RS 6 makes the weapons in front of a family E 63 more entertaining. Equipped with an expressive engine and chassis, it involves the driver in a more marked way in its performance, not constantly giving the impression of negotiating with a battery of sensors and microprocessors. It is also pleasant on a daily basis with its more storage space and more spacious trunk. However, the RS 6 should not be entirely ruled out. This car, barely more reserved, will appeal to customers who want a rarer vehicle, giving a more agile feeling and displaying a better designed technological component. In short, two extremely impressive works that recall how there are significant advantages of not always opting for an SUV.
Audi RS 6 Avant
Starting price: $ 120,400 (model tested: $ 134,600)
Engine: 4L twin-turbo light hybrid DOHC V8
Power: 591 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 590 lb-ft @ 2,050-4,500 rpm
Transmission: eight-speed automatic with manual mode
Drive architecture: front longitudinal engine, all-wheel drive
Weight: 2250 kg
Consumption (EnerGuide): 13.7 L / 100 km (Super gasoline)
New in 2021? New model (North American market)
Visit the Audi website
Mercedes-AMG E 63 S 4MATIC + wagon
Starting price: $ 127,900 (model tested: $ 141,450)
Engine: V8 DOHC 4L biturbo
Power: 603 hp @ 5,750-6,500 rpm
Torque: 627 lb-ft @ 2,500-4,500 rpm
Transmission: 9-speed automatic with manual mode
Drive architecture: front longitudinal engine, all-wheel drive
Weight: 2143 kg
Consumption (EnerGuide): 12.8 L / 100 km (Super gasoline)
New in 2021? Redesigned
Visit the Mercedes-Benz website