Abt Sport­sline un­leashes the mighty RS6 Avant Per for­mance’s 200mph po­ten­tial

Evo - - MARKET -

NOT ALL TUN­ING COM­PA­NIES ARE equal. While plenty make great mod­i­fi­ca­tions and tease out im­pres­sive power fig­ures, and many take over man­u­fac­turer war­ranties, very few have such a close re­la­tion­ship with the orig­i­nal man­u­fac­turer that they get ac­cess to a car be­fore its re­lease and can of­fer an up­grade as soon as it goes on sale. One such tuner is Abt Sport­sline.

The Bavar­ian com­pany can trace its his­tory all the way back to 1896, when black­smith Jo­hann Abt fit­ted a de­vice to a horse-drawn car­riage that al­lowed it to be con­verted into a sledge when it snowed. Later it be­came an agent for Horch and then Audi, but it wasn’t un­til the late ’60s, when an­other Jo­hann Abt, grand­son of the founder, started rac­ing and of­fer­ing up­graded parts, that Abt turned from a deal­er­ship to a tun­ing firm, too. It made its rep­u­ta­tion in­creas­ing the per­for­mance of Golfs and Audi 80s by en­larg­ing en­gine ca­pac­i­ties, adding bet­ter-flow­ing ex­hausts and up­grad­ing the sus­pen­sion. And, right to this day, the core of its work has re­mained VW Group prod­ucts.

Which brings us to Abt’s take on the Audi RS6 Per­for­mance. Even though the big, 4-litre twin-turbo V8-pow­ered es­tate was al­ways go­ing to be a niche of­fer­ing, it was cry­ing out for some­one to lib­er­ate it from its OEM shack­les. Not that the stan­dard car is un­der­pow­ered – with 597bhp and 553lb ft of torque, it cer­tainly isn’t – but its top speed is lim­ited to a measly 155mph or, op­tion­ally, 174mph. Once Abt has fin­ished with it, how­ever, that in­creases to 200mph – a much more ap­pro­pri­ate V-max and no longer sit­ting at the same speed as ev­ery hot hatch or mid-range saloon on the au­to­bahn.

Rather than just re­mov­ing the lim­iter to get the Avant to hit the dou­ble ton, Abt has in­creased the en­gine’s power to 725bhp and torque to a mas­sive 678lb ft. It might be one of the more so­phis­ti­cated tuners but, like all the oth­ers, it knows how to daz­zle with big num­bers!

These mon­ster out­puts are achieved by adding Abt’s own sep­a­rate ECU, a high-pres­sure fuel pump and a be­spoke Akrapovic ti­ta­nium ex­haust sys­tem with a pre-muf­fler re­place­ment pipe. To­tal cost: 20,000 eu­ros plus taxes. The car we drove was also equipped with a set of Abt 21-inch di­a­mond-cut wheels. Sadly they were fit­ted with Dun­lop SP Win­ter Sport 4D tyres that limit top speed to 170mph (275kph). Frus­trat­ing when you know the car’s full ca­pa­bil­i­ties; even more so when you dis­cover just how easy it is to reach 170mph on a der­e­stricted au­to­bahn: only a short gap in traf­fic and you shoot from UK cruis­ing speeds, past where the reg­u­lar lim­iter would be and on to the tyre’s top speed in a matter of se­conds.

The RS6’S re­fined in­te­rior rather muf­fles the ex­haust. And the ex­tra power isn’t eas­ily de­tectable at lower speeds and on B-roads – not a sur­prise when the stan­dard car is so fast – but it does make it feel lighter; the car re­spond­ing more ea­gerly when you touch the throt­tle.

Abt’s up­grades prob­a­bly don’t make much sense if you don’t have fre­quent ac­cess to der­e­stricted au­to­bahns or take part in top speed events on old air­fields. But if you do, well, you know who to call.

Above: 725bhp makes short work of 200mph; sadly, win­ter tyres kept us to 170mph (or 275kph)

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