2014 Audi RS7 Review

Our verdict from the international launch of the new RS7 in Germany

By Shahzad Sheikh

Audi RS7

Narrow European B-roads, with blind corners, crests and dips, dotted with tractors, trucks and trailered stuff pootling along, often featuring tightening radii, and of course lined with trees or launch-you-into-oblivion drop-offs.

Audi RS7

I’m braking hard into one of those aforementioned corners, the anchors strong and linear, whilst snapping down through three gears with the paddle shift. I yank the square-bottomed thick-rimmed steering wheel around. The nose hesitates for micro-second then responds faithfully with any last remnants of understeer compensated for by an invisible hand tugging the front inside corner (that would be the torque vectoring then).

Audi RS7

Back hard on the throttle and the engine torque makes the best of the tarmac-sucking grip as the car sprints from the apex and closes in fast, too fast, on the hapless VW Polo ahead of us. I have a clear line of sight to the next corner, but a van has just emerged from around it coming the other way.

Audi RS7

Having flicked up to third already, I’m aware that I still have over 560bhp and, more importantly, nearly 520lb ft of torque as far up the rev range as 5500rpm to unleash, I floor it and in one smooth continuous movement I’m past the Polo, back in well before having to share road-space with the van, and have dispatched the next bend. If the VW driver blinked, he might not even have noticed I was ever there!

Audi RS7

Unless the windows of the Polo were down. Then he would have heard the telltale deep bellow from the exhaust, the snarling V8 thunder on acceleration, burps on upshifts and finally cracks and bangs from lift off on decelerating into the bend.

Audi RS7

You’d think a sports car, perhaps even a muscle car, or possibly something like a Chevy Camaro ZL1 (the hp is in the ballpark) was the subject of this description. But no, this was a German car. An Audi in fact.

Yes indeed. A boring old Audi. Except less of the old, and none of the boring at all.

Audi RS7

Meet the incredible RS7. The latest road-rocket from the Quattro division responsible for the uncompromising RS versions (well at least the latest generation are), and as already mentioned the outputs from the colossus 4.0 TFSI biturbo V8 are off the scale, and the associated performance figures are suitably mind-bending – a top speed of 305kph and 0-100kph of 3.9 seconds, yep that’s LESS than FOUR SECONDS.

Audi RS7

Far from being a mental hard-core supercar, this is of course a highly practical, spacious and comfy four-door with a hatchback rear opening giving immense cargo space, whilst the interior is packed to the pillars with all the quality, refinement and gadgety goodies you’d expect from a AED475,000 Audi. Oh and the fuel economy figure is just 9.8L/100km – thanks to cylinder deactivation that shuts off half the cylinders when you’re not on it.

Audi RS7

This is called having your cake and eating it, I believe.

I’ve always thought the A7 to be the better proportioned and more elegant of the two ‘Sportbacks’ that Audi offers (the A5 being the other one). With the RS makeover it gets its own front and rear bumpers styled more aggressively with gaping air ducts, flared sills, tinted headlights, high-gloss black honeycomb grille. It looks the business, especially in blue, although the matte grey is also surprisingly cool.

Audi RS7

Inside the quality is beyond question, there’s lashings of carbon fibre, and of course it’s expectedly opulent in here for the driver and three passengers.

Audi RS7

But it’s all about the driving and that shocking performance. The thrust is unrelenting, instant and you’ll run out of road before the well of power runs dry. But speed without dynamic ability is redundant or deadly, depending on how lucky you’re feeling.

Audi RS7

Here you have a staggering depth of grip, poise and roadholding. The steering could be more communicative, but it certainly doesn’t lack immediacy and accuracy. There is still the mildest hint of understeer, but the torque vectoring does a sensational job of pulling the car into a corner, and you get a sensation oversteer as the back brings itself into alignment (60% of the torque goes aft).

Audi RS7

If there’s a criticism, it is as is often with these Audis, that the ride becomes too harsh and jittery. But as ever the Audi RS7 has a solution to that. Configure the Individual mode in set-up and you can set all the features to ‘Dynamic’ read Sport, but put the suspension on comfort or auto. Problem solved.

Audi RS7

Do use the paddles to blat up and down the eight speeds, and each change brings an aural fiesta of burps and bangs from the gaping twin tailpipes.

Audi RS7

Ah but there’s a proviso, and it’s an important one that remains unsettled as I write. You only get the full glorious sound-effects when you opt for the Sports Exhaust, which only comes with the optional RS Sports suspension with the Dynamic Ride Control – which also keeps the body taut and stable.

Audi RS7

The alternative is an RS first – Adaptive Air Supension which lowers the car by 20mm, but is tuned for comfort. I drove both cars back-to-back and this suspension is admittedly slightly more comfortable and smoother in all conditions. But the difference is minor.

Audi RS7

However, not only is half the fun of driving this car lost due to the more muted soundtrack, but the more controlled attitude and comfier damping actually detracts from the sheer visceral edgy excitement of driving an RS car. If I’d only driven this car, I’d have come back wondering what all the fuss was about. But the frenetic somewhat crazed energy of the RS7 fitted with the Sports suspension and exhaust, is an absolute must, otherwise you might has well just buy an S7.

Audi RS7

I hope Audi Middle East, will offer it in this guise as standard, and leave the adaptive air as an option that no one in their right mind will ever tick.

2014 Audi RS7
Specs
Prices: AED475,000 ($129k)
Engine: 4.0-litre biturbo V8, 560bhp @ 5700-6600rpm, 516lb ft @ 1750-5500rpm
Performance: 3.9secs 0-100kph, 305kph, 9.8L/100
Transmission: Eight-speed auto, four-wheel drive
Weight: 1995kg

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