The Audi S7 has been spied testing at the Nurburgring for the first time - even though the production Audi A7 won't be unveiled until the Moscow motor show in late August.
The Audi S7 is differentiated from the standard model by a more aggressive front bumper, bigger air intakes, bigger wheels and a quad exhaust.
It is not clear how much power the S7 will have, although unconfirmed reports suggest it will be either a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 or 4.2-litre V8 with around 500bhp.
UK sales of the Audi A7 will start in March next year and a V10-powered RS variant will also be part of the range.
The A7 is the first model based on Audi’s new mid-size platform, which will underpin next year’s seventh-generation A6. The 4950mm-long A7 has been conceived to provide stiff competition to the new Mercedes-Benz CLS, also set to be revealed at the Paris show, and a production version of BMW’s recently unveiled Gran Coupe concept due in 2012.
Topping the line-up will be an RS7 Sportback performance model running a 580bhp version of Audi’s naturally aspirated 5.2-litre V10 engine in combination with the firm’s new seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.
Other models in the line-up will use a range of V6, V8 and V10 petrol and diesel engines.
Among the engines expected to account for the majority of UK sales are Audi’s new 330bhp supercharged 3.0-litre V6 direct injection petrol and 250bhp 3.0-litre V6 common-rail diesel.
Previewed by the Sportback concept shown at last year’s Detroit show, the production version of the A7 Sportback is clothed in a sleek four-door fastback body similar in style to the A5 Sportback.