Which Is Faster IRL: The Audi RS6 Avant or the Tesla Model 3 Performance?

When it comes to lightning-quick practical cars, it’s tough to top the Tesla Model 3 Performance. Especially since, like the Model S, it’s gotten a few upgrades for the 2021 model year. However, if you want to move cargo or people at speed, the Audi RS 6 Avant has a lot to offer. And as a wagon, it’s arguably more practical than a sedan. But which is faster? Carwow’s UK YouTube team decided to find out.

The 2021 Audi RS6 Avant and Tesla Model 3 Performance are some fast family haulers

Technically, the 2021 Audi RS6 Avant and Tesla Model 3 Performance have something in common: electric motors. In the US, the RS6 has a 48-volt motor-generator to power the start-stop system, Car and Driver reports. Though admittedly, it does nothing to actually power the wagon.

A gray 2021 Audi RS6 Avant
2021 Audi RS6 Avant | Audi

To do that, the 2021 Audi RS6 Avant has a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 rated at 591 hp and 590 lb-ft. That’s linked to standard all-wheel drive and an 8-speed automatic. At 5031 pounds, the RS6 Avant isn’t necessarily light. But it still goes 0-60 mph in 3.1 seconds, Car and Driver reports.

A white 2021 Tesla Model 3 Performance
2021 Tesla Model 3 Performance | Tesla

Tesla hasn’t released official horsepower figures for the 2021 Model 3 Performance. We do know the EV has a bit more range, some new exterior and interior trim pieces, and some extra options. And the Performance trim now has a standard carbon-fiber rear spoiler, upgraded brakes, larger wheels, lowered suspension, and a dedicated Track Mode. But its actual output isn’t known, though Carwow claims it makes 483 hp (490 metric hp) and 487 lb-ft.

As before, the 2021 Tesla Model 3 Performance has two electric motors, one for each axle. As a result, like the Audi RS6 Avant, the Model 3 Performance has AWD. And at the end of November 2019, Tesla released a firmware update that claimed to increase power by 5%, Car and Driver reports. It doesn’t have the Model S Performance’s Cheetah Mode. However, it does cut the 0-60 mph time from 4.1 to 4 seconds, Car and Driver reports.

On the face of it, then, the Tesla Model 3 Performance is the slower car. That’s despite weighing about 1000 pounds less, Car and Driver reports. But 0-60 mph times are rarely the full story.

How Carwow compared the ICE wagon and the EV sedan

Carwow ran several tests with both the 2021 Audi RS6 Avant and the Tesla Model 3 Performance. The first few were ¼-mile drag races, three from a standing start, then several rolling races. In the latter, the RS6 Avant was run in automatic and manual shifting modes. Finally, the two cars competed in a 70 mph-0 braking test.

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At first, this seems like the Audi RS6 Avant has the advantage. It has a faster 0-60 mph time and launch control. And in Car and Driver’s testing, the wagon had a faster ¼-mile time and trap speed.

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However, the Tesla Model 3 Performance doesn’t have to waste time shifting or spooling turbos. That’s reflected in these cars’ 5-60 mph, 30-50 mph, and 50-70 mph times. In each case, the Model 3 Performance beats out the RS6 Avant. Plus, it’s lighter, which is better for braking performance.

Could the Audi RS6 Avant keep up with the Tesla Model 3 Performance?

Carwow ran three standing-start races to iron out any differences in reaction time. And the 2-out-of-3 winner was the Audi RS6 Avant. These races also highlighted the differences in how the Tesla Model 3 Performance and the RS6 Avant accelerate.

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The Model 3, being an EV, makes its torque from 0 RPM. So, at lower speeds, it accelerates hard, even without launch control. But at higher speeds, it loses steam, while the ICE wagon is gaining it. So, what about the rolling races, which are a more realistic measure of performance?

With the RS6 Avant in Comfort Mode, the Model 3 Performance beat it handily, due to its lack of shifting. But shifting manually, the wagon pulled ahead—though only after it reached 120 mph. And when the cars started the rolling race from 35 mph, instead of 50 mph, that requisite passing speed increased to 140 mph.

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Finally, the braking test. It was fairly close, but the RS6 Avant lost to the Tesla Model 3 Performance.

So, technically, the Audi RS6 Avant is faster than the Tesla Model 3 Performance on a track. But out on real streets? The EV actually has the advantage. And it’s about half the price.

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