First Drive: Audi RS 7 Sportback | Car and Van News

26 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on First Drive: Audi RS 7 Sportback | Car and Van News
Audi RS

First Drive: Audi RS 7 Sportback

November 25, 2013 0 Comments

What is it: Tarmac-ripping version of big exec coupe

Key features . Sharp yet refined looks, sub four-sec pace

Our view: To BMW, it is M. To Mercedes-Benz it is AMG, and on an Audi it’s RS.

These are the vital letters one looks for when seeking ultimate pace from the products of these deadly premium market rivals. For Audi the RS models have long been an important element of the range, ever since the first performance quattro four-wheel-drive machine appeared and started tearing up rally courses in the 1980s.

The RS 7, and the RS Q3 launched alongside it (and for which a separate CarandVanNews test will appear shortly) are the 59th and 60th S and RS models from Audi. In the RS 7 the brand takes a big, executive cruiser with its sleek coupe styling, and puts into it a level of potency that stuns its rivals.

Effectively the RS 7 combines the bodyshell of the coupe-like sister to the A6, the A7, with all the mechanical bits of the RS 6 performance Avant estate. So that includes the rather special 4-litre powerplant, an eight-speed auto transmission and of course quattro all-wheel-drive.

That engine is a twin turbo V8, with the turbochargers neatly packaged in the space between the two arms of the vee. Peak power is a mere 551bhp, along with 516lbft of torque, the latter on tap all the way to 1,750 to 5,500rpm.

The unit also has, however, such recent innovations as cylinder-on-demand technology, the ability to shut down one entire bank when it’s not needed. This results in mpg and CO2 emissions that the car’s rivals, BMW’s M6, the Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG, even the Jaguar XKR-S or Porsche Panamera turbo, simply cannot match. Combined cycle fuel consumption of 28.8mpg and CO2 emissions of 229g/km are impressive in this class.

Not that a buyer keen to spend the £83,495 or more needed to secure an RS 7 Sportback will likely be rating eco figures as their highest priorities. They will be looking for performance, and this car has it, in spades.

The powerplant potency is combined with the light weight that comes from Audi’s latest body shells, aluminium comprising 20 per cent of their surface area. The bonnet, wings, doors, and even the long rear hatch, are formed from the material. As a result the shell tips the scales at around 15 per cent less than a traditionally-constructed shell, and less weight of course means faster acceleration.

The RS 7 is an executive car that will hit 62mph from rest in 3.9 seconds. None of its standard-equipped rivals dips under the four-second mark, and to match such pace you really need to fit the Sport Chrono pack to Porsche’s Panamera Turbo – making it around £26,000 more to buy than the Audi, or go buy a Ferrari, for rather a lot more money…

Top speed by the way is of course that electronically limited 155mph. But for a price you can have the limiter removed, and then choose from two terminal speed options of 174 or 189mph…

From first sight the RS 7 has the looks to match its role. The bespoke treatment relies to a great deal on surfaces, matt-finished aluminium to the fore along with a high gloss back honeycomb grille. There is an exclusive, meaty bumper design of course, along with a rear diffuser, twin oval exhaust tailpipes and an electronic rear spoiler that extends at speed.

There are the signature 20-inch wheel rims, with 21-inch versions on the options list.

All of these elements give the car presence, but a very refined presence, an arrogant stance secure in the knowledge that it can dish out the performance without any degree of coarseness, without even ruffling one’s hair.

Slipping behind the wheel one is in surroundings familiar to any Audi-phile. There are the niceties expected on a range-topper of course, the flat-bottom steering wheel, head-up display, RS sporty leather seats and the like. But overall it’s typical Audi efficiency.

And the car drives just like that too, refined and as smooth as you like. It can be tooled along all day without expressing a hint of the potency available under the right foot. But when the opportunity arises…

On the test drive, your correspondent came to a halt behind a car turning right. As the way cleared, ahead stretched a dead-straight, formerly Roman, road with nothing to be seen ahead or behind. So, from a standing start, the transmission was kicked down – and the car went. By the time one thinks; “That was stunning to 60mph” one can easily be well into illegal territory#8230;

On the move, in more practical circumstances, the impression is just as good – overtaking is a task dispatched in no time at all, while the car signifies its dominance with an authoritative, noticeable but smile-inducing engine note.

Now where Audis, especially powerful Audis, have struggled in the past has been with ride quality, but, on the evidence of the test drive, not the RS 7. The assured stance of this car extends to the ride, firm but not harsh, cornering with confidence and with grip levels that never unsettle even when challenged by pace.

Audi RS

There is a rider to this, however. While the standard specification includes elements such as Drive Select with its selectable modes to match one’s mood, adaptive air suspension and a sports Differential, much, much more is on the options list, and dipping into this list to up the performance, or even the toys, can soon pump up the price.

An extra £1,000 for example buys RS Sports Suspension Plus, its special dampers linked together to control body movement without resorting to electronics. It also includes Dynamic Ride Control, again having three modes and doing basically what the title suggests.

For £1,210 Dynamic Steering alters the response to steering wheel commands depending on the driving situation, working closely with all the other electronics, while £8,650 will buy you ceramic carbonfibre reinforced brakes, of greater performance along with a weight saving of around 20 kilos. Or for £10,725, you can have the lot, plus the terminal speed pumped to 189mph.

Some of the options are eye-watering, notably a night-vision system that uses thermal imaging to spot pedestrians walking down dark roadsides (£1,510), and a Bang Olufsen sound system that comes in at an incredible £6,300.

Potential owners of this car won’t be bothered, however, and they will happily spec up their machine well into six figures. Quite simply, you won’t spot many RS 7s on the roads, because they will be bought by just a few – drivers with very exclusive tastes, a passion for extreme potency with refinement, and no need to shout.

One aspect is for certain, however. If this writer sees an RS 7 on the road, he will be envious of the occupant…

Model Tested: Audi RS 7 Sportback

On the road: December 2013

Price: From £83,495

Engine: 3993cc V8 twin-turbo petrol

Power (bhp): 551 @ 5,700-6,600rpm

Torque (lb/ft): 516 @ 1,750-5,500

Audi RS

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