In the realm of high-performance estate vehicles, Audi’s RS6 has long been revered for its combination of power, style, and practicality. Last year, Audi took their iconic model to new heights with the introduction of the RS6 Performance variant. While sharing the DNA of its standard counterpart, the RS6 Performance boasts enhancements that elevate it to a new level of performance.

The standard Audi RS6 is already a force to be reckoned with, offering quality performance and luxurious amenities. However, the RS6 Performance takes things a step further, with changes and upgrades in key areas such as power output, handling dynamics, new exterior colours and a few interior enhancements.

Engine upgrades

One of the most significant differences lies under the bonnet, where the RS6 Performance receives a power boost over the standard RS6. The 4.0-litre, V8 biturbo TFSI engine receives larger turbochargers and a boost pressure increase from 2.4 to 2.6 bar. These modifications result in a substantial power boost of 30 PS and an additional 50 Nm of torque compared to the standard version. Consequently, the total power output climbs from 600 PS to 630 PS, while the peak torque increases from 800 to 850 Nm. With these upgrades, the Performance model accelerates from 0 to 62 mph in just 3.4 seconds, shaving off 0.2 seconds compared to the base model.

Audi RS6 Performance 2023 First Drive

Next to the improved acceleration and overall performance, an eight-speed automatic transmission and Audi’s legendary quattro all-wheel-drive system are present as well, and will deliver the uprated power to all four wheels. The gearbox offers new software for snappier gear changes. Reduced insulation between the engine compartment, the interior, and the rear of the vehicle offers you a noticeable increase in exhaust sound while also lowering the weight of the car by a whopping eight kilograms. The Performance model tips in at roughly 2090 kgs.

Tuned driving dynamics

Additionally, the RS6 Performance features a number of upgrades impacting the handling and driving dynamics, further enhancing its agility and responsiveness. First of all, there are new optional 22-inch forged alloy wheels, which are available alongside the standard 21- or 22-inch cast wheels. The new lightweight wheel is around 5 kilograms lighter than the 22-inch aluminium wheel on each corner of the vehicle, providing a wonderful 20 kg weight saving in unsprung mass.

The most noticeable upgrade is a new lighter and more compact self-locking centre differential, which distributes engine power to the rear axle at ratio of 40:60, and if slippage occurs, more torque is automatically applied to the axle with better traction – up to 70 per cent can flow to the front axle and up to 85 per cent to the rear axle. We also see new software for the Sport Differential on the rear axle, the transmission control unit, and Audi’s drive select dynamic handling system.

Audi RS6 Performance 2023 First Drive

While the standard Audi RS6 already offers good driving dynamics, the RS6 Performance takes things a small step further with the differences between the base and performance model hard to find on a daily commute. Trained professionals will notice them when the car is taken up to its handling limits, but other than that you won’t really notice you are driving a special new model.

Out-of-the-box, it is definitely not like the Audi RS4 Competition Package, which offered as standard a wider scale of upgrades, such as adjustable coil-overs and felt considerably different from its less performance orientated family member. In case of the RS6, you can opt for Audi’s Dynamic Ride Control, a mechanical setup that uses three-way adjustable dampers and diagonally interlinked hydraulics, replacing the air suspension, but my test car didn’t have this system nor will it be as focused as the underpinnings of the special edition RS4.

The 2023 Audi RS6 Performance is in many ways a farewell model, combining the best available options on the RS6 specification list with a series of finetuned software upgrades and a new lighter wheel option. The RS Dynamic Package featuring the increased maximum speed to 174 mph, dynamic all-wheel steering, and the quattro sport differential on the rear axle, comes standard with the RS Dynamics Package Plus being available as an extra. This package offers an even higher top speed of 189.5 mph and includes an RS ceramic brake system.

Audi RS6 Performance 2023 First Drive

New spec options

The new RS6 Performance offers a choice of 16 exterior colours, marking a notable expansion with the inclusion of metallic and matte Ascari Blue, alongside matte Dew Silver for the first time. Setting the performance models apart, they feature standard RS exterior elements in matte gray. These include the exterior mirrors, front spoiler, front side flaps, side sill inserts, roof rails, and trim on the side windows and rear diffuser.

Within the interior, the assortment of well-known RS design packages, previously available in grey and red, now introduces blue as an additional option. Enhancing the ambience, the steering wheel rim is upholstered in Alcantara black with contrasting stitching in Mercato blue. Moreover, blue contrast stitching accents are also found on the floor mats, the side of the center console, and the selector lever cuff, adding a touch of distinction to the cabin’s aesthetic. Another distinguishing feature is an entrance LED in the front doors that projects the lettering “RS performance” onto the ground next to the car.

Audi RS6 Performance 2023 First Drive
Audi RS6 Performance 2023 First Drive
Audi RS6 Performance 2023 First Drive

Summing up thoughts

After a five-day road trip behind the wheel of the Mythos Black RS6 Performance press car - outfitted with winter tyres due to the time of year in Germany, Austria and Switzerland - the overall impression is one that summarises the RS6 Performance in a few words; just a touch more over the base RS6.

Visually you could say the same thing. It is hard for spectators to determine if you are driving the performance model. Only the optional lightweight wheel design might give it away. Even for the driver it is not an easy feat, but the puddle lights do remind you of its upgraded pedigree. The experience would have been more different if the car would have been dressed in one of the limited exterior and cabin colour combinations, and outfitted with its three-way adjustable dampers, which are also available on the standard RS6. I feel an Audi Performance model should be distinguished more than just in one or two smaller details. Luckily, we have the limited RS6 GT which offers the Performance’s underpinnings and has gone wild on its exterior design nature.

Audi RS6 Performance 2023 First Drive

All in all, the overall performance of the new Audi RS6 Performance may not leave you utterly astounded, lacking the jaw-dropping acceleration that some might anticipate. However, what truly impresses is the refined manner in which the RS6 channels its power to the asphalt, seamlessly propelling you forward in a manner that embodies the quintessential Audi driving experience. It’s not about brute force, but rather the sheer delightfulness of the linear power delivery that characterises this RS6 as well, embodying the essence of Audi’s driving dynamics in a thoroughly satisfying manner.

Any of its negatives don’t really impact its core abilities from standing out fierce among the market of sporty saloons and estates. It simply takes on any task you throw at it and more. A delightful companion at any day of the week, but not without its own unique imperfections. This Performance model is just a little bit more of what makes the RS6 brilliant.

Gallery: Audi RS6 Performance 2023 First Drive