2018 Audi RS 7 Performance
– Sleek and suave styling
– Fair cabin practicality
– Unflappable power and handling
– Fiddly multimedia system
– It won’t drift or even skid
– Priced like an apartment
It’s been a good decade now since Audi decided to slip in another model between the A6 and the A8, imaginatively called the A7. Based on the A6 platform, the A7 offers a sleeker alternative to the traditional sedan, while having the side-effect of being more practical as well, thanks to the liftback design. There was a major redesign for the 2019 model year, but there was no speedy RS model to go with it at the time of writing. Here we take a look at the RS model of the first-gen A7. The model range received the most minor of facelifts back in 2017. And to top it off, that’s the same year the RS 7 Performance model was introduced, which was an even-speedier version of this racy pseudo-hatchback.
The RS7 is a long sharply-styled car, and in the optional carbon-fibre trim seen here, looks unique compared to the usual cookie-cutter Audi designs. The facelift simply changed the shape of the grille and the headlights slightly, so much so that we didn’t notice it initially until we compared it with pre-facelift photos. Either way, it’s the most stunning four-door (or even five-door) Audi ever.
The cabin is trimmed very nicely, with intricate detailing, carbon-fibre trim and alcantara roof lining. There’s firm soft-touch surfaces all over the dash and upper door panels, with padding around the knees and all armrests. The pop-up tweeters on the dash as well as the flip-up LCD screen add a nice bit of theatre on start-up. There is one minor issue though. The pretty metal shift-knob gets burning hot in the sun, so handle with care.
There’s no shortage of space, with good legroom and just about enough headroom in the back for taller people. You should know though that it only seats four people, as the middle seat of the rear bench has been replaced by an uncovered storage cubby for whatever reason.
There are hideaway cup-holders front and back, door pockets, centre-armrest storage and seatback pockets, while the boot is long and reasonably deep, hugely accessible thanks to the large power-opening tailgate. There are also thoughtful cargo nets and a manual rear sun-shade.
Tech features are in abundance, most of them controlled via the non-touch screen that is controlled with a dial surrounded by shortcut buttons. There is also a “pad” near the shifter where you can write letters or something for quicker data entry, but we never quite figured out how to use it efficiently. That entire control setup requires looking down unless you have memorised the position of each item, or a lot of scrolling if using just the dial and screen. It’s a good thing the car also comes pre-packaged with all sorts of accident-avoidance active-safety systems to warn or hit the brakes for you if you are distracted and veer into other lanes or into pedestrians.
Other than that, all the basics are there — a small sunroof, a strong stereo and a somewhat-average four-zone climate-control a/c. While Apple Carplay and Android Auto are available, they are fiddly to use since the Audi lacks a touchscreen.
Of course, the real reason for the RS7’s existence is speed. Lots and lots of speed. With 560 hp and 700 Nm of torque on tap from a 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8, the regular model is no slouch. But the RS 7 Performance comes with 605 hp at 6100-6800 rpm and 700 Nm of torque at 1750-6000 rpm. In the real world, that difference won’t translate to anything noticeable, as we timed it at 3.9 seconds in the 0-100 kph run with launch control (and 4.2 seconds without), no quicker than the non-Performance model. But in both versions, we felt that explosive thrust every time we touched the throttle. And it sounds absolutely brutal when it’s angry.
With the occasional stomping of the throttle, we managed a fuel consumption of 17 litres/100 km (5.9 km/litre).
The 8-speed automatic transmission is smooth, and works quick enough in manual mode with paddles too. The steering is sharp and well-weighted, although unfortunately there is almost no feedback. The brakes are expectedly strong, with linear pedal response and rather-uniquely shaped drilled rotors. And there is almost unlimited grip from the wide 275/30 tyres wrapping the 21-inch wheels.
Take on some curves and the car just keeps on turning, dab the throttle a little more, and it just turns faster without any drama, thanks to an all-wheel-drive system that we assume is watched over by an army of computers. Of course, this means it’s not much fun when you actually do explore those limits, as it eventually understeers, but you’ll probably only ever experience it on the tightest low-speed corners.
The RS7 rides a bit firmly, but still fairly compliant considering the rubber-band tyres and sport-tuned suspension. In terms of peace, it’s fairly quiet with a bit of road noise at the upper limit of highway speeds.
The throttle pedal can feel overly sensitive at low speeds, and requires delicate inputs in traffic. The steering lightens up at low speeds for easier manoeuvrability.
All in all, it’s a great daily driver for a four-door that can carve corners like a sports car. Sure, it’s nowhere near as fun as a high-powered rear-wheel-drive drifter at the limit, but if you never plan to break the law except in a straight line, and you feel the need to take on a debilitating 6-year loan, this is the one to have in its extremely-high price bracket.
Current Model Introduced in:
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