First Drive: Audi RS 6 And RS 7

Boasting the most powerful internal-combustion engine the marque has given a road car, we take the RS 6 Avant Performance and RS 7 Sportback Performance for a spin.

By Bradley Iger 07/07/2023

When Audi introduced us to the latest RS 6 Avant and the mechanically identical RS 7 sedan back in 2019, we had a hard time identifying any glaring faults in the luxurious, high-powered brutes, but there were a few areas that offered room for improvement. Rakish good looks, twin-turbocharged V8 power, and intuitive technologies made these RS-tuned machines impressive daily drivers that fused practicality with performance, yet the latter aspect of their split personalities seemed a little too hushed for the sake of civility. And according to RS product line director Florian Mair, we weren’t the only ones who felt that way.

“We take customer feedback very seriously, and it was clear that we needed to address a lack of emotionality,” Mair explained just prior to setting us loose on the winding roads of Napa Valley, Calif., with the automaker’s latest hot rods.

The 2024 Audi RS 6 Avant Perfomance.
The 2024 Audi RS 6 Avant Performance.

That’s where the new Performance iterations of the RS 6 Avant and RS 7 Sportback come in. Effectively replacing the standard version of both models from 2024 on, Audi sought to ratchet up the intensity with the Performance iteration through strategic improvements rather than reinvention. With the design and tech remaining familiar, the main goal of this effort was to produce a car that offers more fireworks and outright capability without sacrificing usability.

There are a few visual tweaks, like matte finishes for the mirrors, side sills, rear diffuser, and a few other trim pieces, as well as new paint options (Grenadier Red metallic and Ascari Blue metallic). The cabin also benefits from new trim and stitching flourishes, along with new performance-focused visuals on the 12.3-inch digital-gauge cluster, but ultimately the focus is on function rather than form.

The 2024 Audi RS 7 Sportback Performance.
The 2024 Audi RS 7 Sportback Performance.

Thanks to larger turbochargers and higher boost pressures, the 4.0-litre DOHC V-8 now makes 463 kW and 850 Nm of torque (up 22 kW and 50 Nm from the outgoing RS 6 Avant and RS 7 Sportback), figures which make this the most powerful internal-combustion engine that Audi has ever offered in a road-going production vehicle. The standard models never really felt like they were lacking for grunt, but the additional shove chops two-tenths of a second off of their official zero-to-100km/h sprint times, which now stand at a decidedly urgent 3.3 seconds. Truth be told, from behind the wheel, it feels significantly quicker than that. Aided by all-wheel-drive grip and updated transmission software that produces quicker shifts, launch control catapults the RS 6 Avant Performance off the line with a ferocity that belies the vehicle’s 2000kg curb weight, and we wouldn’t be surprised if testing reveals real-world performance in the high two-second range.

The 621 hp, 4.0-liter DOHC V-8 inside the 2024 Audi RS 6 Avant Performance and RS 7 Sportback Performance models.
For the 2024 RS 6 Avant and RS 7 Sportback Performance models, the 4.0-litre DOHC V-8 now makes 463 kW and 850 Nm of torque.

The Performance models aren’t purely about straight-line speed, though. Lateral grip was another metric where the outgoing cars felt held back by a tire that prioritised ride quality over road-holding capability, and to that end, the 2024 models—equipped with 22-inch wheels—will score a new, stickier Continental Sport Contact 7 high-performance tire. The wheels themselves are new as well: Available in titanium matte, matte black, and bi-colour black finishes, this forged five-spoke roller is said to be 5kg lighter than the 22-inch wheel it replaces. That might not seem like much in a car that weighs nearly two and a half tonnes, but it’s a significant reduction of rotational mass that noticeably improves overall responsiveness.

An enhanced air-suspension setup with adaptive dampers remains standard equipment for both vehicles, while a more traditional coil spring and adaptive damper configuration—known as Dynamic Ride Control (DRC) in Audi parlance—is optionally available. Both systems carry over from last year.

A close-up of a wheel on the 2024 Audi RS 7 Sportback Performance.
The models are fit with new 22-inch, titanium five-spoke wheels dressed in Continental Sport Contact 7 high-performance tires.

Although it doesn’t smooth out road imperfections quite as effectively as the air springs do, the DRC setup delivered an additional dose of poise that we appreciated during spirited driving, and we felt it was worth the minor compromise in ride quality. The optional carbon-ceramic-brake package—which includes massive ten-piston callipers with 17.3-inch carbon-ceramic discs up front and 14.6-inch rotors in the rear—also carries over from last year and continues to provide consistently impressive stopping power. However, the latter’s tendency toward overeager response at lower speeds makes the standard brake package better suited to everyday driving.

The interior of the 2024 Audi RS 7 Sportback.
The cabins in both models also benefit from new trim and stitching flourishes, along with new performance-focused visuals on the 12.3-inch digital-gauge cluster.

Regardless of which suspension and brake packages are selected, the RS 6 Avant Performance and RS 7 Sportback Performance feel more at home when hustled through a technical stretch of road than their outgoing counterparts did. While much of the credit goes to the new Continental tire, engineers also updated the cars’ centre differential to reduce understeer at the dynamic limit, which also allows the back end to step out just enough to keep things lively.

The Performance models also seek to address a common complaint that the outgoing cars were simply too quiet. We did note, while recently testing a ’23 RS 6 Avant, that the wind noise created by opening a window just a bit to let some fresh air in was enough to make the engine virtually inaudible. While it seemed unfortunate that the song of a 447 kW V8 could be overpowered by so little, the bigger issue was that it made it nearly impossible to determine when to upshift and downshift by ear when using the eight-speed automatic gearbox in manual mode.

The Audi RS 6 Avant Performance.
The RS 6 Avant Performance (shown above) and RS 7 Sportback Performance feel more at home when hustled through a technical stretch of road than their outgoing counterparts did.

Rather than replacing the existing active exhaust system with a less restrictive design, Audi instead decided to reduce the amount of sound insulation throughout, in order to bring more of the power plant’s soundtrack into the cabin. This approach does indeed make the V8’s growl easier to hear without actually making the car any louder, but the drawback is that it allows in more noise from the road and the outside world as well.

Still, it’s a small compromise to make for what is otherwise a tangibly improved driving experience. Through a variety of subtle, well-executed updates, the Performance treatment makes the RS 6 Avant and RS 7 Sportback feel more earnestly aimed at driving enthusiasts while also providing a few aesthetic touches that freshen up the look.

The 2024 Audi RS 7 Sportback.
The Performance treatment makes the RS 6 Avant and RS 7 Sportback feel more earnestly aimed at driving enthusiasts.

For those seeking something a bit more exclusive, Audi will also offer the Bronze Edition, a package which includes Sebring Black paint, matte neodymium gold-finished 22-inch wheels, black callipers, bronze interior stitching, and a few other odds and ends that should help these sharpened machines stand out from the crowd. Bronze Edition production is limited to just 75 examples of the RS 6 Avant Performance and 50 examples of the RS 7 Sportback Performance, with Australian allocation yet to be announced.

Pricing for the Audi RS 6 Avant and RS 7 Sportback Performance are yet to be confirmed, but expect them to sit above that of the regular models ($232,200 before ORC and $239,200 before ORC, respectively). Both models are slated to launch in Australia later this year.


Subscribe to the Newsletter

Stay Connected

You may also like.

First Drive: The Porsche 911 S/T Is a Feral Beast That Handles the Road Like an Olympic Bobsledder

The commemorative model borrows underpinnings from the GT3 RS and includes a 518 hp engine.

By Basem Wasef 23/10/2023

The soul of any sports car comes down to the alchemy of its tuning—how the engine, suspension, and chassis blend into a chorus of sensations. The secret sauce of the new Porsche 911 S/T, developed as a tribute to the 60th anniversary of the brand’s flagship model, is more potent than most; in fact, it makes a serious case for being the most driver-focused 911 of all time.

Sharing the S/T designation with the homologation special from the 1960s, the (mostly) innocuously styled commemorative model borrows underpinnings from the more visually extroverted GT3 RS. Yet what the S/T, starting at $290,000, lacks in fender cutouts and massive spoilers it makes up for in directness: a flat-six power plant that revs to 9,000 rpm, a motorsport-derived double-wishbone suspension, and a manual gearbox. It’s a delightfully feral combination.

Rossen Gargolov

Whereas the automatic-transmission GT3 RS is ruthlessly configured for maximum downforce and minimum lap times, the S/T is dialed in for the road—particularly the Southern Italian ones on which we’re testing the car, which happen to be the very same used by product manager Uwe Braun, Andreas Preuninger, head of Porsche’s GT line, and racing legend Walter Röhrl to finalize its calibration. The car reacts to throttle pressure with eerie deftness, spinning its 518 hp engine with thrilling immediacy, thanks to shorter gear ratios.

The steering response is similarly transparent, as direct as an unfiltered Marlboro, and the body follows with the agility of an Olympic bobsledder. Some of that purity of feeling is the result of addition through subtraction: Power-sapping elements including a hydraulic clutch and rear-axle steering were ditched, which also enabled the battery to be downsized for even more weight savings. The final result, with its carbon-fiber body panels, thinner glass, magnesium wheels, and reduced sound deadening, is the lightest 992-series variant on record, with roughly the same mass as the esteemed 911 R from 2016.

Driver engagement is further bolstered by the astounding crispness of the short-throw gearbox. The S/T fits hand in glove with narrow twisties and epic sweepers, or really any stretch that rewards mechanical grip and the ability to juke through hairpin corners. The cabin experience is slightly less raucous than the 911 R, but more raw than the wingless 911 GT3 Touring, with an intrusive clatter at idle due to the single-mass flywheel and featherlight clutch. Porsche cognoscenti will no doubt view the disturbance in the same way that hardcore Ducatisti revere the tambourine-like rattle of a traditional dry clutch: as an analog badge of honor.

The main bragging right, though, may just be owning one. In a nod to the year the 911 debuted, only 1,963 examples of the S/T will be built. Considering the seven-year-old 911 R started life at$295,000 and has since fetched upwards of $790,000, this new lightweight could bring proportionately heavy returns—if you can be pried from behind the wheel long enough to sell it, that is.

Images by Rossen Gargolov

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe today

Stay Connected

Gentlemanly Restraint 

Art and science collide in the the newly released BR03A watch collection by Bell & Ross.

By Belinda Aucott 02/11/2023

In keeping with the brand’s design salute to aviation and military equipment, the pared-back face of the Bell & Ross BR03 Automatic takes its cue from the instrumentation in cockpits. It’s unabashedly minimal and confidently masculine style is set to make it a future classic.

Faithful to the codes that underpin the brand’s identity, the new utilitarian offerings sit within a smaller 41-mm case (a slight departure from the original at 42 mm Diver, Chrono or GMT.) and has a reduced lug width and slimmer hands. The changes extend to the watch movement, which has been updated with a BR-CAL.302 calibre. The watch is waterproof to 300 metres and offers a power reserve of 54 hours.

While the new collection offers an elegant sufficiency of colourways, from a stealthy black to more decorative bronze face with a tan strap, each is a faithful rendition of the stylish “rounded square, four-screw” motif that is Bell & Ross’s calling card.



For extra slickness, the all-black Phantom and Nightlum models have a stealthy, secret-agent appeal, offering up a new take on masculine restraint.

Yet even the more decorative styles, like the black face with contrasting army-green band, feel eminently versatile and easy to wear. The 60’s simplicity and legibility of the face is what makes it so distinctive and functional.

For example, the BR 03-92 Nightlum, with its black matte case and dial, and bright green indices and hands, offers a great contrast during the day and emits useful luminosity at night.

A watch that begs to be read, the the BR03-A stands up to scrutiny, and looks just as good next to a crisp, white cuff as it does at the end of a matte, black wetsuit.

That’s a claim not many watch collections can make. 

Explore the collection.

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe today

Stay Connected

Timeless Glamour & Music Aboard The Venice Simplon-Orient Express

Lose yourself in a luxury journey, aboard an Art Deco train from Paris

By Belinda Aucott 03/11/2023

Watching the unseen corners of Europe unfold gently outside your train, window can be thirsty work, right? That’s why Belmond Hotels is once again staging a culinary train journey from Paris to Venice, aboard the glittering Art Deco carriages of the Venice Simplon-Orient Express.

To celebrate diversity and inclusion in the LBTQ+ community, another unforgettable train ride is slated for 2 November.

On the journey, ample servings of decadent cuisine will be served and live entertainment will play looooong into the night. Trans-DJ Honey Dijon and Dresden’s Purple Disco Machine are both part of the disco-house line-up.

Passengers are encouraged to dress in black-tie or cocktail attire, before they head to the bar and dining carriages to enjoy their night, where they are promised ‘unapologetic extravagance’,.

Negronis, martinis, spritzes and sours will all be on offer as the sunlight fades.

So-hot-right-now French chef Jean Imbert is also in the kitchen rattling the pans for guests.

Imber puts a garden-green-goodness twist on Gallic traditions. He regularly cooks for the who’s-who. Imbert recently co-created a food concept for Dior in Paris, worked with Pharrell Williams to present a dinner in Miami, and he’s even been invited to Cheval Blanc St-Barth to cater luxe LVMH-owned property.

The young chef is vowing to create no less than ‘culinary perfection’ in motion with his own passion for fresh seasonal produce. There’ll be plenty of Beluga caviar, seared scallops, and lobster vol-au-vents.

“I want to create beautiful moments which complement the train, which is the true star,” says Imbert of his hands-on approach to delectable pastries and twists on elegant Euro classics.

“Its unique legacy is something we take pride in respecting, while evolving a new sense of style and purpose that will captivate a new generation.”

Check the timetable for the itinerary of lush inclusions here.

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe today

Stay Connected

From Electric Surfboards to Biodegradable Golf Balls: 8 Eco-Conscious Yacht Toys for Green and Clean Fun

Just add water and forget the eco-guilt.

By Gemma Harris 18/10/2023

Without toys, yachts would be kind of sedentary. There’s nothing wrong with an alfresco meal, sunsets on the flybridge and daily massages. But toys add zest to life on board, while creating a deeper connection with the water. These days, there are a growing number of options for eco-friendly gadgets and equipment that deliver a greener way to play. These eight toys range from do-it-yourself-propulsion (waterborne fitness bikes) to electric foiling boards, from kayaks made of 100 percent recycled plastics to non-toxic, biodegradable golf balls with fish food inside. Your on-water adrenaline rushes don’t always have to be about noise and gas fumes. They can be fun, silent, and eco-conscious.

A game of golf isn’t just for land. Guests can play their best handicap from the deck with Albus Golf’s eco-friendly golf balls. The ecological and biodegradable golf balls are 100 percent safe for marine flora and fauna, and manufactured with non-contaminating materials. The balls will biodegrade within 48 hours after hitting the ocean and release the fish food contained in their core. For a complete golfing experience, add a floating FunAir green. From $3100 (FunAir Yacht Golf) and $315 a box (golf balls).

Fliteboard Series 2.0

The future of surf is electric, and Fliteboard offers an emissions-free and environmentally friendly electric hydrofoil. Flying over the water has never been as efficient and low impact, using new technologies with less than 750 watts of electric power. This second series boasts various performance factors for all riding styles. It also features an increased trigger range from 20 to 40 degrees for more precision and control. Fliteboard designed this series for every possible foiling ability, from newbies to wave-carvers. From $22,000.

Manta 5 Hydrofoiler XE-1

Hailing from New Zealand and using America’s Cup technology, Manta 5 offers the first hydrofoil bike. The Hydrofoiler XE-1 replicates the cycling experience on the water. Powered by fitness-level pedaling and assisted by the onboard battery, top speeds can reach up to 19 km per hour. The two hydrofoils are carbon fibre, and the frame is aircraft-grade aluminium. The onboard Garmin computer will relay all the stats. The effortless gliding sensation will accompany you through a workout, exploration or just circling the boat. From $950.

Mo-Jet’s Jet Board

Imagine five toys in one: The Mo Jet delivers just that. From jet surfing, bodyboarding, and e-foiling to scooter diving. This versatile, German-built toy is perfect for those who cannot decide. The Mo-jet uses a cool modular system allowing you to switch between activities. Whether you want to stand, be dragged around or dive, you can have it all. It even has a life-saving module and a 2.8m rescue electric surfboard. Made from environmentally friendly and recyclable polyethene, it also ticks the eco-conscious boxes. Complete with an 11kW electric water jet, it charges in 75 mins, offering up to 30 mins of fun. Adrenaline junkies will also not be disappointed, since speed surges from 0 to 27 knots in 3 seconds. From $18,000.

Silent Yachts Tender ST400

Driven by innovation and solar energy, Silent Yachts recently launched its first electric tender, the ST400. The 13-footer has clean-cut lines and is built with either an electric jet drive or a conventional electric outboard engine. The ST400 reaches speeds above 20 knots. From $110,000.

Osiris Outdoor ‘Reprisal’ Kayak

Kayaks are ideal for preserving and protecting nature, but they’re usually manufactured with materials that will last decades longer than we will and therefore not too eco-friendly. Founded by US outdoor enthusiasts, Osiris Outdoor has created a new type of personal boat. “The Reprisal” kayak is manufactured in the US entirely from recycled plastics (around 27 kgs) that are purchased from recycling facilities. The sustainable manufacturing process isn’t its only selling point; the lightweight Reprisals have spacious storage compartments, rod holders and a watertight hatch for gadgets. Complete with a matte-black finish for a stylish look. From $1100.

The Fanatic Ray Eco SUP Paddleboard

Declared as the most sustainable SUP, the Ray Eco is the brainchild of the Zero Emissions Project and BoardLab, supported by Fanatic. Glass and carbon fibre have been replaced with sustainable Kiri tree wood. And you can forget toxic varnishes and resins; organic linseed oil has been used to seal the board and maintain its durability. This fast, light, and stable board is truly one of a kind, not available off the rack. This craftsman’s love for detail and preservation is another first-class quality of the board. From $10,000

Northern Light Composite X Clean Sailors EcoOptimist

One of the most popular, single-handed dinghies in sailing’s history, the tiny Optimist has undergone a sustainable revival. Northern Light Composites and not-for-profit Clean Sailors have teamed up to launch the first sustainable and recyclable Optimist. Using natural fibres and eco-sustainable resins, The EcoOptimist supports a new circular economy in yachting. OneSail also produces the sail with a low-carbon-footprint manufacturing process. From $6000.

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe today

Stay Connected

The 50 Best Cocktail Bars in the World, According to a New Ranking

The World’s 50 Best organisation gave the Spanish bar Sips top honours during an awards ceremony in Singapore.

By Tori Latham 18/10/2023

If you’re looking for the best bar in the world, you better head to Barcelona.
Sips, from the industry luminaries Simone Caporale and Marc Álvarez, was named the No. 1 bar on the planet in the latest World’s 50 Best Bars ranking. The organisation held its annual awards ceremony on Tuesday in Singapore, the first time it hosted the gathering in Asia. Sips, which only opened two years ago, moved up to the top spot from No. 3 last year.
“Sips was destined for greatness even before it rocketed into the list at No. 37 just a few short months after opening in 2021,” William Drew, the director of content for 50 Best, said in a statement.
“The bar seamlessly translates contemporary innovation and technical precision into a playful cocktail programme, accompanied by the warmest hospitality, making it a worthy winner of The World’s Best Bar 2023 title.”
Coming in second was North America’s best bar: New York City’s Double Chicken Please. The top five was rounded out by Mexico City’s Handshake Speakeasy, Barcelona’s Paradiso (last year’s No. 1), and London’s Connaught Bar. The highest new entry was Seoul’s Zest at No. 18, while the highest climber was Oslo’s Himkok, which moved up to No. 10 from No. 43 last year.
Barcelona may be home to two of the top five bars, but London has cemented its status as the cocktail capital of the world: The English city had five bars make the list, more than any other town represented. Along with Connaught Bar in the top five, Tayēr + Elementary came in at No. 8, and Satan’s Whiskers (No. 28), A Bar With Shapes for a Name (No. 35), and Scarfes Bar (No. 41) all made the grade too.
The United States similarly had a good showing this year. New York City, in particular, is home to a number of the best bars: Overstory (No. 17) and Katana Kitten (No. 27) joined Double Chicken Please on the list.
Elsewhere, Miami’s Café La Trova hit No. 24 and New Orleans’s Jewel of the South snuck in at No. 49, bringing the Big Easy back to the ranking for the first time since 2014.
To celebrate their accomplishments, all of this year’s winners deserve a drink—made by somebody else at least just this once.
Check out the full list of the 50 best bars in the world below.
1. Sips, Barcelona
2. Double Chicken Please, New York
3. Handshake Speakeasy, Mexico City
4. Paradiso, Barcelona
5. Connaught Bar, London
6. Little Red Door, Paris
7. Licorería Limantour, Mexico City
8. Tayēr + Elementary, London
9. Alquímico, Cartagena
10. Himkok, Oslo
11. Tres Monos, Buenos Aires
12. Line, Athens
13. BKK Social Club, Bangkok
14. Jigger & Pony, Singapore
15. Maybe Sammy, Sydney
16. Salmon Guru, Madrid
17. Overstory, New York
18. Zest, Seoul
19. Mahaniyom Cocktail Bar, Bangkok
20. Coa, Hong Kong
21. Drink Kong, Rome
22. Hanky Panky, Mexico City
23. Caretaker’s Cottage, Melbourne
24. Café La Trova, Miami
25. Baba au Rum, Athens
26. CoChinChina, Buenos Aires
27. Katana Kitten, New York
28. Satan’s Whiskers, London
29. Wax On, Berlin
30. Florería Atlántico, Buenos Aires
31. Röda Huset, Stockholm
32. Sago House, Singapore
33. Freni e Frizioni, Rome
34. Argo, Hong Kong
35. A Bar With Shapes for a Name, London
36. The SG Club, Tokyo
37. Bar Benfiddich, Tokyo
38. The Cambridge Public House, Paris
39. Panda & Sons, Edinburgh
40. Mimi Kakushi, Dubai
41. Scarfes Bar, London
42. 1930, Milan
43. Carnaval, Lima
44. L’Antiquario, Naples
45. Baltra Bar, Mexico City
46. Locale Firenze, Florence
47. The Clumsies, Athens
48. Atlas, Singapore
49. Jewel of the South, New Orleans
50. Galaxy Bar, Dubai

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe today

Stay Connected