Car reviews - Audi - A7 - RS7
Potent drivetrain, quattro grip, Barry White engine note, classy cabin, sleek style
Room for improvement
Jarring ride on optional dynamic suspension setting, cost of optional safety equipment
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17 Nov 2014
AUDI equips its stylish RS7 Sportback with a BOSE sound system as standard equipment, but we wonder how many owners will bother to switch it on.
The bark from massive dual pipes at the back of this five-metre-long grand tourer could be regarded as sufficient music for any car lover, even those just standing on the kerb as the RS7 thunders by with 412kW of Audi twin-turbo V8 power maxed out.
The new flagship of Audi’s RS line-up – the equivalent to BMW’s M and Mercedes-Benz AMG models – is a sensory delight, with loads of style, European class and white-knuckle performance.
Taking 3.9 seconds to launch from standstill to 100km/h, the RS7 also shades its BMW and Mercedes-Benz equivalents, at least in the acceleration stakes.
And at $238,500 plus on-road costs, it is also more affordable, at least in base form, before the buyer starts ticking boxes for myriad options.
But the RS7 has at least one more advantage over its rear-drive rivals, and that is its quattro all-wheel drive system that helps to tame the wild horses from the blown 4.0-litre engine.
With foot planted, the big beast just powers away with nary any histrionics and no noticeable nanny technologies kicking in to spoil the party.
Audi handed us the key to an RS7 equipped with the $4900 Dynamic Package, which includes a stiffer RS Sport suspension with four-mode suspension control.
Starting out in the firmest ‘dynamic’ mode, it clearly became apparent that the settings were more suitable for a racetrack than a bumpy Aussie country road, jarring over the frequent bumps.
We tried ‘automatic’ as well, but ended up setting on the ‘comfort’ setting which not only delivers a bearable – albeit still stiff – ride quality without compromising handling too much.
In fact, the extra compliance in bumpy corners can be a blessing, helping the big car hold its line and resist being jarred off line.
Unfortunately, we did not get to sample the standard RS7 with the auto-adjusting air suspension, but prospective buyers should compare.
The RS7 tips into corners with a sharpness that belies its two-tonne bulk, although the electric-assisted steering loads up a little.
With the quattro all-wheel-drive system biased to the rear wheels under most conditions, this biggest RS model feels like a high-performance rear-drive car but with the security of front-wheel traction at a pinch.
Unlike some other sports-oriented cars, the five-door RS7 combines a measure of practicality with its easy access and handy load-carrying capability.
The limo-like dimensions of the body sitting on a wheelbase almost three metres long permit a spacious cabin, although the low-slung ‘coupe’ roof line means headroom is adequate rather than generous.
The rear seat accommodates only two, but this permits Audi to mould the seats for greater side support, with resulting comfort for passengers.
The small ‘glasshouse’ of the RS7 means rear-seat passengers do not have a massive outlook, but strangely, the all-round vision for the driver, particularly in the troublesome rear quarter, is not bad. Thin A-pillars and door-mounted exterior mirrors help too.
In the tall eighth gear, V8 ticks over at not much more than idle on four cylinders as its fuel-saving cylinder deactivation system kicks in. However, the RS7 is bred for the autobahn, and feels somewhat jerky and in two minds while trying to hold top gear at the 100km/h speed limit that is common in Australia. It just wants to be let off the leash …The massive rear hatch lifts to expose a capacious if relatively shallow boot of 535 litres, which can be expanded by folding the split-fold rear seats. The trailing tip of the hatch houses a hidden spoiler that rises from its recess to help keep the RS7 stuck to the road a higher speeds.
Inside, the RS7 is typical Audi – muted class with soft surfaces, loads of leather and thoughtful design.
Our test car was fitted with the ‘carbon styling package’ at an $8500 sting, which seems excessive.
Audi also asks extra for safety equipment that is increasingly becoming standard in mainstream cars. For example, a package including adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping control, blind spot warning and ‘pre sense plus’ costs $5300.
In all, the RS7 is a practical supercar that looks like it goes – fast with an agility that belies its bulk.
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