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Steering, suspension and ride comfort

Out on the road you quickly become aware of the impact of the ‘Drive Select System’ on the Audi RS7's driving experience, which allows drivers to tailor the vehicle to their preferences. It offers comfort, auto and dynamic modes, which adjust the way that key elements like the engine, transmission, suspension, steering – and even the exhaust and seatbelt tensioner – behave. An individual mode allows you to configure it to your precise demands.

In comfort mode the RS7 transpires to be a relatively cosseting car to drive. Its taut and composed ride borders on the overly firm but, with light steering, well-judged throttle and brake responses and good visibility, it's not intimidating or tiring.

You do feel a lot of minor surface imperfections though, so those who don't want to be constantly massaged by gentle vibrations through the seat or steering column should best look elsewhere. Given its performance credentials and design, this small compromise is just about acceptable. At cruising speed the RS7 is acceptably refined, although rough surfaces can cause a notable amount of road noise. Wind noise is very low.

Through corners the steering is precise and direct enough to inspire confidence that the RS7 will go where you point it, but there's little in the way of feedback. You're left placing your trust in the RS7’s stability systems and what little you can feel through the seat.

Audi's torque vectoring and limited-slip differential makes it very easy to maintain or adjust your line mid corner, without drama. Simply turn in further, even while applying power, and it simply carries out your commands as expected.

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Switch in to Dynamic mode and things change dramatically. Besides a more vivid engine response, and a louder exhaust note, virtually all roll and pitch is dialled out instantly.

The Audi seemingly adopts a terrain-following mode, with the suspension cancelling out all vertical movement for improved precision; the trade-off is a crippling and neck-tiring ride as the body resolutely follows the road surface with no damping. If you're in the mood for something edgy and devastatingly quick, fine, but in regular use it's intolerable.

In dynamic mode the steering also becomes weightier, seemingly increasingly so as the speed and steering angle increases. The additional heft does lend you a more confident feel but the extra effort required, just off centre, can make the RS feel unwieldy as the initial lock is slow to bite and apply. Its variations in weight can also feel a little unnatural, particularly during faster, sharper corners.

Very quickly you either make the decision to leave the car in comfort mode, or you set up your own 'individual' calibration. We found the RS7 at its smoothest and most rewarding with the engine, exhaust, differential and belt tensioners in 'Dynamic', and the suspension and steering in 'Comfort'. Auto offers a halfway house, but it's preferable to know how the car will react at any given moment.