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The real estate: Audi’s RS6 vs. SA's SUVs

2018-04-25 11:21

Lance Branquinho

Image: Supplied

Cape Town - In the rarefied purchasing stratosphere beyond R1.5m, there are many outstanding performance cars available. Yet none of them matches the uniqueness of a certain Audi. 

You’re expecting us to volunteer R8 as the Audi in question, and yes, if you want all the driver appeal of a Lamborghini-type mid-engined supercar, without the anti-social wealth statement, R8 is perhaps the only ‘acceptable’ supercar you can buy in South Africa. But we’re not interested in R8.

Station wagons vs. SUVs

As the first quarter of 2018 has drawn to a close, brands are collating data and totalling sales to analyse whether they are achieving targets. And of all the premium German brands which trade in South Africa, only Audi has the commitment to still try and sell a large station wagon. The RS6. 

Despite their superiority in nearly every possible way for most potential owners, South Africans have wilfully ignored the range of excellent stations wagons in favour of SUVs. And unless you drive a lot of gravel, or do a lot of illegal kerb parking, an SUV is always going to be heavier on fuel, tyres, brake pads and have notable less fluid dynamics.

Despite this, the local market is so hostile to station wagons that only Audi still bothers attempting to market them here. 

With the RS6 you buy a performance car which is truly unique. There is simply no rival. Some will mention Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo, but that’s more of a hatchback limousine than a true estate car. The RS6 remains a supercar without compromise.

South Africans retain an awfully misplaced notion that station wagons are boring in appearance, yet park an RS6 anywhere and it becomes an Instagram event. The full rear three-quarter proportions. Those wider arches. It has a fantastic presence and a stance of true purpose. 

Fantastically quick too, capable of a true 0-100km/h time of 3.8 seconds, which is swift enough to best about anything else you would care to mention. The turbocharged V8 makes a glorious noise as it converts 95 unleaded to 412kW, yet when required, RS6 is a docile machine, perfect for school lift-club. 

And that is the unique appeal. If you want something with more than 400kW and real luggage space, you need to buy one of those overpowered performance SUVs, but they are terribly ungainly to drive, capable but never rewarding. RS6 offers a purist driving experience and massive luggage space. It’s a true family friendly supercar, without any of the social stigma attached to owning a high-performance SUV. 

This is what makes it so very heartening that Audi is managing to move a couple of these magnificent estate cars each month, to buyers who will suffer absolutely no remorse for their decision. In 2018 thus far, Audi has sold four RS6s, those owners: heroes all.

In a market crowded with 400kW SUVs, sedans and coupes, Audi is the only brand which offers South Africans a proper performance alternative.

A wagon, with 565-litres of luggage space and a van-like 1680-litres of cargo capacity with the rear seats folded. Emergency repairs required at your beachfront cottage 500km away? RS6 can accommodate a ladder in back, and much more, whilst squashing that distance into an easy morning commute.  

To truly appreciate the uniqueness of RS6 Avant, and how daring Audi’s marketing is, consider the absence of rivals.

AMG has a nearly insatiable demand for its cars locally, but they are too afraid of South African anti-wagon sentiment to market the C43/63 and E43/63 estate derivatives here. Audi isn’t.

And for those few owners who take option on RS6 Avants, they are secure in the knowledge that they’ve found the golden mean between performance, practicality and that elusive quality in cars beyond R1.5m… Rarity.

And as we all learned in Economics 112, rarity equals value over time. 

Audi's take

Audi SA says: "We know that South African consumers have a particular appreciation for high performance vehicles. We introduced improvements to three key models within the Audi Sport range at the end of 2017 (Audi RS 3 Sportback, Audi TT RS Coupé and RS 5 Coupé) and have since seen strong sales within the Audi Sport portfolio.

The Audi Sport models have become resilient competition against its M and AMG counterparts.

Here's a look at Audi sports car sales so far for 2018

Read more on:    audi  |  lance branquinho  |  new models

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