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pounds 58,800 TO JOIN AVANT GARDE; Audi's stunning RS6 saloon is quicker than a Ferrari.

Byline: GRAEME LENNOX and LIZ STEELE

YOU'D have to win the Lotto to own this beautiful baby - an astonishing pounds 58,800 worth of dream driving and good looks. Our test team, GRAEME LENNOX and LIZ STEELE, were bowled over by Audi's RS6 Avant - the world's fastest production estate.

GRAEME'S VERDICT

YOU'VE got to hand it to them. Audi have achieved the impossible by inventing a cure for road rage.

I discovered this while stuck in traffic behind the wheel of a stunningly beautiful RS6 Avant last week.

No sooner had I ground to a halt than the in-car television sprang to life to the familiar sights and sounds of, er... ITV's Trisha.

Any frustrations I had about being stuck in traffic and a little late for work vanished as soon as the first socially-inept and extremely angry guest poked an accusing finger in the face of her gormless boyfriend.

If only all cars could have Trisha then we could see how ridiculous we look when we get upset.

Of course, not all motorists can enjoy the sort of opulence offered by one of the most luxurious cars in the world. The pounds 58,800 RS6 Avant - estate to us mere mortals - is one of the most serene driving experiences money can buy.

Having driven one at rush hour between Newcastle and Glasgow, I can testify to its powers of relaxation.

It certainly helps when you have one of the most delightfully furnished interiors around. Our test car was equipped with satellite navigation, the finest leather upholstery and a sound system that would make Norman Cook pop in his earplugs.

Although you would never guess by looking at it, the RS6 Avant is the world's fastest production estate. Such is the understated elegance of this car - no garish spoilers or go-faster stripes in sight - that you will think it's just like any other Audi.

But appearances can be deceptive. You will you know what this car is about once you've had the privilege of getting behind the wheel.

The monstrous 4.2-litre V8 engine powers it from 0-62 mph in around five seconds - the saloon is quicker than a Ferrari - and on to a limited top speed of 155mph.

The feeling you get when you first put pedal to metal is like your most exhilarating rollercoaster multiplied to the power of 10.

The hairs on the back of my hands, neck and other places I'd care not to mention immediately stood on end. I was even waiting for a camera flash to signify the end of this thrilling theme park ride.

Despite all the adrenaline flowing through my veins, I didn't once feel like the car was in trouble. Quite the opposite.

The beautifully balanced chassis gives you an enormous sense of security.

The added practicality of an elongated luggage area makes the Avant an even more tasty proposition than the saloon.

Driving up the M74 with the cruise control on and a clear road ahead of me, I dreamed of my lottery numbers coming up.

The RS6 is a car for people with enough money to afford the finer things in life and enough class not to shove it down everyone else's throats.

LIZ'S VERDICT

THE Oscars glitz put me in the mood for a film star week... instead, I got stuck in a horror movie.

My Bond girl dreams had been fired up again when my sidekick decided to be 007 for the day and whisked me out for a run in a classic E-type Jag.

But when the 42-year-old car broke down, we were left stranded at the side of the road for two hours. I looked more like an extra from a Carry On film.

Then I copied Kate Winslet's drenched look when my upstairs neighbour left his taps on all day and enough water poured into my flat to sink the Titanic.

I was desperately in need of a pick-me-up - and it came in the stylish shape of an Audi RS6. This car is something special. It packs more punch than Lennox Lewis and has more toys than Santa's grotto.

I got behind the wheel of the Avant model, which is Audi's version of an estate car. Although the aluminium wing mirrors add extra style, there's nothing flash about this car's bodywork.

This is no bad thing. With a 4.2-litre engine growling under the bonnet and delivering an amazing 450bhp, the last thing you want to do is draw attention to yourself. It will take you to 62mph in 4.7 seconds, with an electronically- limited top speed of 155mph.

But when you step inside, flash is an understatement. This car has luxury leather trim and an Alacantra-covered roof. And you'll never find traffic jams frustrating again - it has a TV built into the dash. Only the sound works while on the move but it flickers into life when you are stationary.

The TV also doubles as a state-of-the-art satellite navigation system.

The rest of the standard spec is impressive, too, including heated leather Rocaro sports seats, a top of the range Bose sound system, acoustic parking system, auto dipping rear view mirror and cruise control.

With a pounds 58,800 price tag, I would be expecting a chauffeur thrown in, too.

When you feel the need for speed, you have the safety advantage of Audi's Quattro four-wheel drive, while comfort and handling is enhanced by the Dynamic Ride Control.

This system automatically monitors road conditions and adjusts suspension to maintain a balance in all situations while maintaining ride comfort.

The RS6 comes in five paint finishes with motorsport links - Avus Silver, Misano Red, Goodwood Green, Mugello Blue and Daytona Grey.

If my Lotto numbers come up next week, I will buy myself a detached house and one of these all-new classics.

With neighbours and vintage Jaguars nowhere to be seen.

TECH SPEC

AUDI'S RS6 costs pounds 57,700 for the saloon and pounds 58,800 for the Avant.

INSURANCE: Around pounds 2000.

PERFORMANCE: The 4.2-litre V8 rockets from 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds. Limited top speed, 155mph.

FUEL: In town 13mpg; out of town 27.2mpg; combined 19.3mpg.

STANDARD FEATURES: 19in alloys, accoustic parking system, auto dipping rear view mirror, BOSE sound system, cruise control, dual front and side airbags, Dynamic Ride Control, EBD with brake assist, climate control, heated seats, Recaro sports seats, sat-nav with TV, head airbags, xenon headlamps.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 23, 2003
Words:1070
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