Here it is, and what can we say? Meet the ABT Audi RS6-E, and as expected, the tuner has indeed pushed the already gutsy Audi RS6 Avant Performance to 1,000 horsepower – and beyond. It’s not far beyond, but still, 1,018 combined horses from gasoline and electric motivation is nothing to sneeze at.
In fact, if you do sneeze while giving this insane ABT-tweaked Audi long-roof a bootfull of beans, be prepared to get a face full of whatever comes out. That’s because ABT says its new hyper-hybrid – the first ever from the company – will scoot from 0 - 100 km/h (62 mph) in a scant 3.3 seconds. No, that’s not quite enough to hang with the hyperest of hypercars, but for a truly large estate car with room for families and lots of luggage, that’s properly quick. And it will keep the family entertained all the way to a top speed of 320 km/h, which is just a whisker away from the magic 200 mph mark.
How does the ABT Audi RS6-E manage all this? For starters, the boosted 4.0-liter V8 contributes 730 hp to the mix, which by itself would be all kinds of giddy fun. The E part of the equation comes in the form of a single electric motor that’s installed in the Audi’s transmission tunnel, which sends an additional 288 hp to the rear wheels. Simple math tells us, then, that the combined power is indeed 1,018.
There’s a catch to this, however. Actually, there are several catches.
Rather than having this power available all the time, ABT uses a Magic Button (that’s literally what ABT calls it) to activate the electric motor. Think of it as the fabled NOS button, but here’s the second catch. You can only push it above 100 km/h. In the video above ABT flat-out says the RS6 simply can’t handle full power from a dig, so yeah, that impressive 0-100 sprint comes just from petrol power. We’d love to see what could happen with both power sources engaged from the get-go, because as the video demonstrates, the wagon is a freaking ballistic missile on the highway with all systems activated.
Unfortunately, the third catch is that the electric boost can only be used in short intervals due to heat issues. Approximately 10 seconds is all you get per run, which indeed makes this hybrid setup very much like a car running nitrous oxide. Unlike nitrous, you don’t have to refill a bottle after each run; the car’s regenerative systems keep the smallish battery ready to send power back to the electric motor. That is, as soon as the car is ready to handle it again.
If this all sounds a bit sketchy, here’s the fourth catch. This car is only a prototype, so unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you view this curious approach to hybrid performance) you won’t ever be able to buy one. ABT wanted to dip a toe into the hybrid waters while also exploring the future of tuning, and this is the result. Not bad at all for a freshman effort.
The ABT Audi RS6-E is certainly a completely different approach to hybrid power in performance cars. Rather than making electricity part of the car’s regular operation, it’s used solely for a massive power boost in short intervals at highway speeds. We aren’t sure just how practical that kind of performance upgrade is, but kudos to ABT for thinking outside the box on this one.