Audi's RS7 delivers supercar-grade thrills with five-door practicality
Cruise Missile PHOTOS: TORQUE

Apart from the obvious RS badges, it'd take a keen eye to distinguish between the new Audi RS7 and its less powerful variant, the S7, or even lesser A-prefixed examples.

But dig deeper, and you'll find the same mighty 4-litre, twin-turbo V8 powerplant that's in the bonkers RS6 Avant. With 560bhp and a tyre-shredding 700Nm of torque on tap, its power figures eclipse even those of the R8 V10, Audi's range-topping supercar.

Like its wagon counterpart, the RS6 Avant, the five-door RS7 goes from zero to 100km/h in a staggering 3.9 seconds. And if you tick the right options boxes, it will even hit 305km/h (normally electronically
limited to 250km/h).

As you'd expect with those kinds of performance figures, overtaking in the RS7 (especially on a single-carriageway road) never fails to boggle the mind, or if you're like me, elicit a little giggle.

Despite weighing close to two tonnes and measuring nearly five metres long, it picks up speed so quickly, it's almost reminiscent of a fast motorcycle. The car never wants for straight-line ability, and it's especially mind-blowing when you consider that performance like this was only offered by hypercars not too long ago.

Sadly, aural pleasure is somewhat left out of the equation as the V8 engine is, like the car's looks, a tad low-key.

Around the bends, the RS7 feels like any other fast all-wheel-drive Audi. It's reassuring, confident and offers loads of traction, although you can steer the big Audi on the throttle somewhat if you're feeling a little playful.

Enter a corner overzealously, and a trace of understeer emerges. However, Audi's clever torque-vectoring differential, which decides how much power is needed at each wheel at any given time, offers a sense of
total security even when the vehicle moves around more than it should.

Unless you're a powersliding lunatic who enjoys living on the edge of grip, the torque-vectoring differential and the all-wheel-drive quattro system will provide a welcome safety net for piloting a car that weighs this much and is this potent.

That said, the RS7 is just as happy to pootle around in town as it is to break the speed limit. Put it in Comfort mode, and the adaptive air suspension feels plush and refined, regardless of the fact that you're riding on massive 21-inch wheels. The ride is so fluid and civilised in Comfort, you might forget you're in a 560bhp monster.

Ironically, blunting the car's "dynamic" ability on public roads is Dynamic mode. While the sharper throttle response and more intense soundtrack are appreciated, the ride becomes too busy, and the steering too artificially weighted and wooden, for one to fully exploit the monstrous performance. Unless you’re on a smooth road or a racetrack, Comfort mode is more than enough for most drivers to cover a lot of ground in very little time.

But in spite of its blistering crosscountry and straight-line pace, the RS7
falls short as an all-out driver's car. It's neither deeply rewarding nor engaging, but what it brings to the table is everyday practicality in the form of refinement and ease of use, combined with performance
that could easily put it on a par with most bona fide sports cars.

And while its power fi gures are truly colossal, the RS7 is, owing to its
bodystyling, quite subtle, and the cabin is fairly spacious. As such, there are few compromises to be had while still enjoying a car that goes like an angry fi recracker.

The bad news is that Audi will only bring it in if there's sufficient local demand, although how many prospective buyers are needed to constitute "sufficient demand" is a little more unclear. What is clear, however, is that it probably won’t come cheap. Its close relation, the RS6, already costs $556,000, so the RS7 (if the S7 just below it is anything to go by) should be priced around $600,000.

To be sure, this is a scandalous amount of money, but if it’s a scandalous turn of speed with a surprising amount of practicality (plus understated good looks) you're looking for, then you might just want to give Audi a call to pad out its RS7 local order book.

SPH Magazines

 

This article first appeared in the November 2013 issue of Torque.


Torque, Singapore's #1 motoring magazine, is now available in both print and digital formats. Log on to www.torque.com.sg to subscribe!