2023 Audi RS e-tron GT | Image: Mark Bramley

Audi RS 6 Avant and Audi RS e-tron GT: Conquering Phillip Island

Entering the realm of a track day at Phillip Island is a double-edged sword. Not for the fear of pushing too hard into Doohan Corner (although that’s a genuine concern), but rather because the allure of this island circuit can easily divert your focus from the task at hand—testing cars. The picturesque scenery, the sinuous bends, and the undulating terrain all conspire to make driving at Phillip Island an almost out-of-body experience, if the weather gods cooperate.

To make the day even more enticing, the invitees were none other than Audi Sport—a name synonymous with automotive excellence. The masterminds behind Quattro, the trailblazers of rally racing, the kings of Le Mans with 13 victories under their belt, and soon-to-be contenders in the world of Formula 1. Yes, it was those heavyweights. And if the mere mention of “Audi Sport” and “Phillip Island” didn’t set your heart racing, Audi had another ace up its sleeve: two of its performance legends, the RS 6 Avant and the RS e-tron GT.

On one side, my heart raced at the prospect of getting behind the wheel of the Audi RS 6 Avant, a wagon that embodies a rebellion against the prevailing performance SUV trend. But on the other hand, the Audi RS e-tron GT intrigued my intellect with its electric powertrain, delivering a staggering 830 Nm of instantaneous torque within a sleek and slippery silhouette. Fortunately, both these automotive marvels were at my disposal, so with a resolute self-affirmation of “I’m here to test cars,” I donned the helmet and embarked on a journey to unravel the essence of Audi Sport in the modern era.

2023 Audi RS 6 Avant Performance | Image: Camber
2023 Audi RS 6 Avant Performance | Image: Camber

Audi RS 6 Avant: A Roaring Symphony on the Track

My day of Audi Sport euphoria commenced with the Audi RS 6 Avant, a wagon that defies the prevalent notion that performance cars should come in the form of SUVs. The RS 6 lineage traces its roots back to Audi’s ’90s motorsport triumphs. It all began with the iconic Audi RS2 Avant, a collaboration with Porsche that birthed a wagon boasting supercar-level performance.

Fast forward to today, and the RS 6 Avant carries that torch forward with a formidable 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine, boasting a breathtaking 463 kW (620 horsepower) and an earth-shaking 850 Nm of torque.

2023 Audi RS 6 Avant Performance | Image: Camber
2023 Audi RS 6 Avant Performance | Image: Camber

With such immense power coursing through its veins, the RS 6 Avant catapults from 0 to 100 km/h in just over 3 seconds, delivering a gut-punch of acceleration that sounds as remarkable as it feels. However, it’s not merely about brute force; it’s about finesse. Thanks to its adaptive suspension, rear-wheel steering, and the ingenious torque distribution of the Quattro system, this wagon exhibits a grip that redefines the term “point and shoot.”

The Quattro all-wheel-drive system took center stage as I pushed the RS 6 Avant to its limits through the challenging sections like the Hayshed and Lukey Heights. The self-locking center differential ensured that power was planted firmly, regardless of the chassis’s orientation. It served as a stark reminder of Audi’s mastery over traction and stability.

2023 Audi RS 6 Avant Performance | Image: Camber
2023 Audi RS 6 Avant Performance | Image: Camber

Approaching the final turn at Turn 12 was always a thrilling moment, especially when you’re foot to the floor in an RS 6 Avant. As you feather the throttle through the corner, the V8 hums along with the patience of a maestro, and as you unwind the wheel and mash the throttle, the full symphony erupts.

At times, you’d be forgiven for momentarily forgetting that you’re piloting a comfortable, five-seat wagon. While a touch more steering feel would have been welcome, it’s hard to fault a machine that seamlessly marries raw performance with practicality.

2023 Audi RS e-tron GT | Image: Mark Bramley
2023 Audi RS e-tron GT | Image: Mark Bramley

Audi RS e-tron GT: Silent Thunder on the Asphalt

Following the thunderous performance of the RS 6 Avant, it was time to step into the future of Audi Sport with the Audi RS e-tron GT. Though it doesn’t boast a roaring V8 under its hood, on paper, it promised ample capabilities. Equipped with dual electric motors, the RS e-tron GT delivers an impressive 830 Nm of instant torque, launching it from 0 to 100 km/h in a mere 3.3 seconds.

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As I slid behind the wheel of the RS e-tron GT, the distinct absence of an engine’s roar was palpable. The electric symphony, or rather the lack thereof, created an unusual sense of serenity. Yet, as I accelerated out of the pit lane and onto the main straight, the surge of electric power was colossal. However, the real revelation came as I navigated the complex sequences of corners through Southern Loop, Stoner Corner, and Honda Corner; it became abundantly clear that this electric sports car was about much more than straight-line speed—it was a corner-carving sensation.

2023 Audi RS e-tron GT | Image: Mark Bramley
2023 Audi RS e-tron GT | Image: Mark Bramley

The RS e-tron GT’s ability to tackle corners with precision was astounding. The combination of a low center of gravity, the responsive electric powertrain, and the all-wheel-drive system made it a formidable contender in any corner. It clung to high-speed bends with such tenacity that it felt like your cheeks were trying to escape your face, and it catapulted out of low-speed corners with a ferocity that made the RS 6 Avant seem almost sluggish in comparison. It was nothing short of impressive.

Inside the cabin, the RS e-tron GT may not have offered the same auditory theatre as the RS 6 (beyond the occasional tire squeal), but the sheer speed more than compensated for it. Not only was it the faster of the two cars, but it also marked the quickest I had ever been around Phillip Island.

2023 Audi RS e-tron GT | Image: Mark Bramley
2023 Audi RS e-tron GT | Image: Mark Bramley

The Verdict

As the day unfolded, it dawned on me that I was the one being put to the test, despite my initial intention of scrutinizing the cars. Both vehicles showcased capabilities far beyond my own, yet they always encouraged me to push the envelope without ever feeling uncontrollable.

In the past, a track day meant a simple formula: faster laps equaled more fun. However, after experiencing these two contrasting automotive marvels back to back, I found myself in a contemplative state, questioning my priorities. What did I truly desire from a track day? Was it all about speed, or did I crave the theater of roaring engines and screeching tires?

2023 Audi RS 6 Avant Performance | Image: Camber
2023 Audi RS 6 Avant Performance | Image: Camber

The RS 6 Avant provided an exhilarating blend of power, practicality, nostalgia, and a visceral experience that left me yearning for more. Its V8 engine composed the soundtrack, while its performance delivered the thrills. Conversely, the RS e-tron GT unveiled the future of high-performance motoring, powered by electricity. It demonstrated that top-tier performance need not rely on internal combustion alone, and while it might have lacked the raw drama, its sheer speed was an awe-inspiring spectacle.

Audi Sport’s relentless pursuit of pushing automotive engineering boundaries was undeniable. Though I couldn’t definitively choose a favourite on the track, it’s safe to say that opting for either of these two performance beasts guarantees an unforgettable experience.

2023 Audi RS e-tron GT | Image: Mark Bramley
2023 Audi RS e-tron GT | Image: Mark Bramley
2023 Audi RS 6 Avant Performance | Image: Camber
2023 Audi RS 6 Avant Performance | Image: Camber
2023 Audi RS 6 Avant Performance | Image: Camber
2023 Audi RS 6 Avant Performance | Image: Camber
2023 Audi RS e-tron GT interior | Image: Mark Bramley
2023 Audi RS e-tron GT interior | Image: Mark Bramley

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Justin Jackie
Contributor

Justin Jackie

Justin Jackie is a freelancer automotive writer with over five years of experience reporting and reviewing cars and motorcycles. His work has appeared in a number of industry-leading publications, including the New York Times, T Magazine, BurdaLuxury, Mr Jones, and Prestige Online.