Add power, add roof: Mattel’s toy super-estates evoke lucid Autobahn dreams
Few machines can outrun an Audi RS6 Avant on a prime stretch of unlimited motorway, so it’s a good thing these castings are small enough and roll smoothly enough to replicate the feat. Now, over a year after drafting this piece, it’s high time to shed new light on the real car and the replicas you’re seeing.
In the newest entry to my Diecast Diary, meet Hot Wheels’s Audi RS6 Avant and Matchbox’s Audi RS6.
[Originally drafted 17 April 2019]
Could you believe it’s been a year and three months since I drafted this feature? I even had two of them shot for what is initially a review of both cars. But that’s not happening here, not in the same capacity as my Inspection Room column.
Because this time, I want to talk about the real thing in more than one way, and maybe even share a more different sort of story as I go along. This is Diecast Diaries, after all — there’s greater freedom to talk about the subject.
The RS6 Avant is the ultimate Audi wagon, considered to be the pinnacle of sporting performance (compared to the S8 Plus, which fills an executive role) among Ingolstadt’s stable. In 2003, the first-generation B4 RS6 pushed 444hp from its Cosworth-tuned twin-turbo 4.2-litre V8 to all four wheels with Quattro AWD and a 5-speed automatic. Those specs made it one of the fastest full-size estates you can get your hands on in Europe.
Fifteen years, two generations and a V10-powered version later, the 2018 RS6 Performance trim (implied in this gorgeous blue) cranks out almost 600hp and twists to 553 lb-ft, good enough to let you reach highway speeds in 3.7 seconds (as quick as a Lexus LFA) and 189mph if you time your Autobahn trip right. And this is just about the perfect sort of thing to cruise Germany’s famed (if slowly restricting) stretch of motorway.
Such capabilities, along with the grip afforded by Quattro, made the RS6 a legend comparable to BMW’s M5 and Mercedes’ AMG E-class, as well as a darling from scribes that got to test the car. These are spacious, sensible machines that can also make mincemeat of any 2-seater when the going gets tight, and runs about as fast as cross-country rail lines (though at a less-than-stellar fuel economy).
As it’s often typical of German performance saloons, however, “upkeep isn’t cheap”, if those words from Lester, owner of those two blue RS6s, are to be believed. For one, fuel costs tend to burn his billfold. He has also changed out the B7's brakes to Endless units after the stock ones failed, added Bilstein parts to the suspension, and removed the speed governor. And while the new one has had stellar servicing, Lester does worry about long-term maintenance.
But he still adores both, as it helps him arrive on time whenever duty calls. “The car’s seen me through Serbia and Naples,” Lester says over Arabica coffee. “I’ve shuttled patients in the old one back when I was a resident, and the new one’s been a solid companion when I was in Lyon. So quick, so steady.”
So imagine the gasps among collectors when the 2018 RS6 Avant came out for Hot Wheels’ Mainline — as a Super Treasure Hunt to boot. Not only was it a pleasant surprise, but it was also one of the best castings of that year, barring the rather questionably flat and featureless front end.
By comparison, the hype for MBX’s rendition of the older RS6 only rose with the release of its grandson, but I prefer this casting a slight bit more. Partly because at least the front intakes have some depth to them, but also because its proportions are more accurately rendered relative to the lower-slung C7 RS6.
Together, however, they shine as a testament to what HW’s Dream Team can do, and finely show the exact point that I’m looking for in models of this size and price: playable collectables that roll smoothly and retain enough detail from the real car that the right angles can sell it well. I absolutely like these two cars — so much so that other than my Ferraris, they may be the longest pocket fillers I have in my glass garage.
Rog rarely buys new cars. Everyone in the club’s known that he sticks to his gear and upgrades it until he reaches the “shipping point”, as he calls it. That means he’ll cut, bolt, and tune both his daily driver and comp runner to 11, then keep it that way until it breaks. So we were surprised he took delivery of this Audi — from freakin’ Munich, I may add — to replace the S4 he junked a month ago.
He got the best one, too. What showed up to the shops is a fully tricked-out Performance trim variant so he didn’t have to worry too much about hitting the ceiling for the engine. Took him just half a day between swapping the ECU, turbo and stripping out the rear seats to he can get more storage space. And from the looks I saw on Stag’s face after they did long-distance shakedown runs, I don’t think Rog has scratched the surface of his RS6 yet.
One of the epiphanies I’ve had about these four Audis is that they smash past my general rule of collecting just one of every example. Originally, I only ever wanted the red one, but after seeing the blue version of the B7 I realized that I might have a harder time reviewing both cars if they had different colours. So I got the blue RS6 in October — and got infatuated again to the point where I’m now waiting for a Nardo Grey recolour, though that may be the last RS6 I snap up (unless they change the front end).
Sure, most people rag on hand-me-downs, but I guess I’m the exception. Because this used to be Rog’s RS6. Yep. My brother had this one parked behind the shutters for over two years but told no one about it. Until my crash, that is. Then he drove me to the scrap shop and showed me the goods. Other than the dust, grime, a coolant leak and missing sunroof, it looked alright for me to start with.
It was around the time I was building this up when Rog told me about his ex. How this was supposed to be the ultimate rally-raid machine, made just for them and the family they were gonna have. They already got the parts, drew up schematics, even was about to pull the entire under-chassis out to fit the new suspension. But an aneurysm put an end to that, so he just shelved everything, screamed into the void, and sank his entire being to the Star20 league. To this day, I’m the only one who knows the real story. Why he seemed distant to me sometimes. And why he entrusted me with this RS6. “Take real good care of that, B. It’s your car now.”
I don’t think I’ve had a more difficult time writing a feature than this. Between outside crises, lack of motivation, a deteriorating sleep cycle, location and logistics difficulties, and the mere fact that my phone’s battery isn’t lasting as long as I’d like, this is the longest time I’ve spent composing something for LaLD. At a time where I sorely needed content to push out, these roadblocks didn’t help my cause at all.
But it’s finally done. I’ve finished it, a year after I initially drafted this write-up. All I ask is for you to read this and appreciate the stories I showed here, and the photos that help visualize them.
Thank you for reading!