The additional 45bhp offered by the Audi S6 over its 4.2-litre V8 sibling wasn't wholly convincing as a performance flagship for Audi's A6 line and it wasn't until the RS6 was launched in 2002 that the Ingolstadt company really had a powerhouse of seismic potency. Upping the ante with its bigger spoilers and 450bhp punch, the RS6 gave pause for thought. A decade or so back, after the media frenzy that was the 377bhp Lotus Carlton, development of the ridiculously powerful executive saloon was knocked back a few steps - but not for long.
Soon, we had the 340bhp BMW M5, outflanking the 326bhp Mercedes E500. Mercedes answered back with the 354bhp E55 AMG introduced in February 1998, but even this car was soon humbled by BMW's 400bhp M5 V8. Audi wanted to join the party too, but the 340bhp S6 was rather outgunned by its two homeland rivals and was even further embarrassed when Jaguar entered the fray with their 400bhp S-TYPE R. The RS6 put Audi back amongst the power brokers, its power output humbling fully paid up members of the supercar club such as the Ferrari 360 Modena or the Porsche 911 Turbo.
The ultimate RS6 arrived in Spring 2004 in the shape of the 480bhp RS6 Plus Avant. Far from being a mere powered-up version, it was properly developed with a series of tweaks including uprated brake discs. These perforated rotors are sheathed behind enormous 19-inch five spoke cast aluminium wheels. RS6 Plus buyers could also order sports suspension as a no cost option. The car had variable damping, firmer springs and dampers and a ride height a full 10mm lower than the original RS6, making the big wheels and liquorice strip tyres fill the wheelarches even more convincingly. Some executive expresses disguise their power subtly. The RS6 Plus isn't one of them.