It is a car that people crossed the road to call nice. One guy undertook me in a chimp display and ran into the car in front of him; I tore past the wreckage (marred bumper), leaving him speechless with rage. The Audi RS6 was the best of cars, it was the worst of cars.
It was only not £100,000 because, in some silted recess of car-industry restraint, that is still understood to be an obscene amount to spend on a car. Instead, with all its trimmings, it was £99,420. What it was trying to achieve – a pleasurable, solid but chic family car that at the flick of a switch turns into a sports car that could quite plausibly take off or fire rockets – is an insanely expensive proposition. Incomprehensible extras (the carbon styling package, the “5-V-spoke” star design black gloss alloy wheels) added another Mazda to the price. You could buy this car, or you could buy a house in Lancashire, or you could buy a boat. It is impossible to critique unless you put the price to one side, but that is unfair on all the other cars. Because it is amazing; and maybe all the other cars would be, too, if they took leave of their senses.
In automatic mode, it tears through the gears with an awesome, mechanical certainty. Switched into sports mode, you change gears yourself with paddles, rev the living hell out of it and probably – though I couldn’t tell because my cheeks were blown back and my hair on end – get close to the advertised 0-62 in 3.7 seconds. It should go without saying that emissions are obscene, and driving this car was like sitting in a crowded restaurant with Andrea Leadsom while she opined loudly that climate change was a myth, and everyone else was thinking you were with her, because you were.
The cabin is painfully luxurious, with its space, superb finish and black Valcona leather, a detail that conveyed nothing really concrete, beyond, “This is our poshest leather.” I have my doubts about its hybrid positioning, because there’s a lot of compromise for both parties (the sports fan has speed but extraneous bulk; the family would worry constantly about getting Fruit Shoots on the leather). I see it more as the car of a top-end henchman, who needs to look upstanding while being able to move as fast as a train.
Whoever you are, it is hard to stay immune to its charms, while easy to overlook its defects: it will ruin you for all other cars, indeed, everything else in life apart from Buckingham Palace and being asleep.
Audi RS6: in numbers
Top speed 189mph
Acceleration 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds
Combined fuel consumption 29mpg
CO2 emissions 223g/km
Cool rating 9/10
Eco rating 2/10