What is it?
This is the Audi RS7 Sportback, the second recipient of Audi’s air-shreddingly potent, 552bhp 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8, which follows (very) swiftly in the fat wheeltracks of the recently released and indentically powered RS6 Avant. All that horsepower, an industrial 516lb ft gush of torque streaming unabated from 1750 to 5500rpm, eight gears and all-wheel drive allow this big hatchback to perform 3.9second eruptions to 62mph with a DTM soundtrack for support.
Performance like this propels the RS7 directly into contention with the BMW M6 Gran Coupé, the Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG and the Porsche Panamera Turbo, although the Audi is the only one to break the 4.0sec to 62mph threshold. Besides a gloriously unnecessary tumult of power, RS7 Sportback buyers also get standard-fit adaptive air suspension, a cylinder-on-demand (COD) system that reduces fuel consumption by as much as 10 perc ent during (doubtless rare) moments of throttle moderation and a maximum speed that can be raised from 155mph to 174mph or even 190mph with the addition of VMax-boosting Dynamic packs.
The quattro four-wheel drive system sends a nominal 60 per cent of torque to the rear wheels and provides a limited-slip differential and torque-vectoring in a pretty successful bid to marshal the engine’s colossal output. Dynamic Ride Control, which replaces the air suspension with steel coils and Audi’s hydraulic, diagonally interconnected shock absorbers are among a heap of available options which also includes carbon-ceramic brake discs and the test car’s striking matt Daytona Grey paint.
What's it like?
Thunderous is one way of describing it, especially if you stand outside and watch an RS7 head horizon-wards in full Dynamic mode, its exhausts crackling with each thumping upshift. If you’re driving, the horizon comes at you even quicker, especially if the road is even slightly narrow. Yet it puts the power down without fuss (on dry roads, at least) and, depending on which mode you’re in, with considerable surety.
As with many high-end Audis you can not only toggle between Comfort, Auto and Dynamic modes, but also apply these settings individually to everything from the steering to the suspension and seatbelt pre-tensioners.
Some of these settings can produce some odd quirks, including a wheel rim that writhes like it was torque-steering when you unleash full power in Comfort, and steering so high-geared in Dynamic that you must concentrate extra hard if you’re not to deploy the lane departure system on a too-regular basis. But whatever combination of settings you choose, there’s never one that quite delivers the subtleties of feedback via (very comfortable) seat and wheel that keen drivers crave, and will more fully enjoy aboard the RS7’s rivals.
Some might be tempted, then, to order Dynamic Ride Control for a fuller tactile experience. DRC eliminates pitch, eliminates roll and, sadly, eliminates most of this Audi’s ride quality, and especially so when in league with an admittedly handsome quartet of 21-inch alloys. Even Audi’s very own chief chassis engineer, Dr Horst Glaser, advises against choosing this option if you live in Britain, because the ride is simply too firm.