By Ronan Glon
Wednesday, Mar 6th, 2013 @ 6:30 am

Audi has officially debuted its heavily-anticipated 2013 RS 6 Avant at the Geneva Motor Show.

Now in its third generation, the RS 6 Avant is not your average family hauler. In its engine bay lies a potent 4.0-liter TFSI V8 engine that uses two large twin-scroll turbochargers to generate 552 horsepower and 516 lb-ft. of torque. An eight-speed tiptronic gearbox controlled by shift paddles works in conjunction with Audi's acclaimed quattro all-wheel drive system to get power to the ground.

The downsized mill rockets the Avant from zero to 62 mph in just 3.9 seconds, making it over half a second quicker than its V10-powered predecessor. Top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph but cars equipped with the Dynamic package can reach 174 mph while those ordered with the range-topping Dynamic plus package can go on to an Autobahn-worthy 189 mph.

In spite of its performance-oriented vocation, the RS 6 Avant returns up to 24 miles per gallon in a mixed European cycle thanks to a standard cylinder on demand (COD) setup that turns the brutal V8 into a frugal four-banger by deactivating cylinders 2, 3, 5 and 8 when they are not needed.

Buyers will be asked to pick between a sport-tuned suspension with conventional steel springs or an adaptive air suspension that can lower the superwagon's body by almost an inch. Four ventilated disks with six-piston calipers ensure that the wagon can stop as well as it can go.

Visually, the RS 6 Avant is easily distinguishable from a regular A6 Avant thanks to an aggressive front bumper that incorporates a plastic mesh grille, fender flares and an air diffuser that is integrated into the rear bumper. 20-inch seven-spoke wheels come standard and three different 21-inch designs are optional.

Inside, the driver is greeted by an instrument cluster with black and white dials and red needles, a three-spoke flat-bottomed steering wheel and leather-upholstered RS sport seats. The second row of seats can hold two adults or fold flat to free up a cavernous 59.3 cubic feet of trunk space.

The 2013 RS 6 Avant will carry a base price of £77,000 ($124,000) when it arrives in Audi showrooms early next year. At the time of writing Audi does not plan on offering the wagon in the United States.

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