The RS7 Performance falls into a special group of cars, cars in which, should you commit to full throttle (in any driving mode, on wet or dry roads), you need to be 100% certain that the next half-mile of road is absolutely clear. Without doubt, Volkswagen Group's twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 that powers the RS7 Performance remains one of the most impressive ways there currently is of combusting fuel in return for forward motion. That said, you'd be hard pushed to feel the Performance's extra on the road.
We were surprised to see our press example relatively free of options; indeed, it's possible to spend more than £8000 on carbon-ceramic brakes alone, and many will be tempted by Audi's Dynamic Package Plus pack. At nearly £11k, the pack includes those brakes, allows the Performance to hit that aforementioned unrestricted top speed, swaps the car's suspension to Audi's RS Dynamic set-up from the as-standard adjustable air springs and introduces the firm's dynamic steering set-up.
Experience tells us that the above extras will improve an RS7's handling, and judging by the heat pouring off the ticking standard brakes of our car (with only optional parking and safety packs added) after a lengthy, meandering strop, the ceramics at least may be worth the money if you plan to head out on track once in a while.
That's not to say the pace at which our car crossed wet and dry countryside was anything short of staggering. Bearing in mind that the RS7 weighs more than two tonnes with people and fuel on board, the combination of its sheer mechanical grip and rear-biased all-wheel-drive system ensure it takes a huge amount of overcooking before the front wheels begin to drift wide.
What's missing is a real sense of connection with what's going on. The standard steering is the biggest culprit, feeling too heavy in Dynamic mode and a little light in Comfort, and in neither does it make you feel definitively dialled in. You're left with complete confidence that the chassis will haul you around bends at fantastic speeds, and set you up to fire out the other side with equal gusto, but never that your steering inputs will be acted on immediately.
It's a shame, because the RS7 is a competent car otherwise. Despite its huge 21in wheels, the standard air suspension does a remarkable job of sponging away ruts and bumps. There's some road roar at speed, yes, but otherwise the cabin is civilised for a car that's capable of such savagery. Rear headroom is tight for the particularly tall but four adults will be seated inside, and the only negative is that Audi's last-generation MMI infotainment and interior materials aren't in line with the firm's latest and greatest examples.