Audi RS7 Sportback (2013) review

Published:16 July 2013

Audi RS7 Sportback (2013) review
  • At a glance
  • 3 out of 5
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  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5

By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker

By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker

The Audi RS7 is the RS6’s sleeker sister, a 552bhp family holdall with four-frameless dooors and a distinctive sloping tail. Want to rocket your family from 0-60mph in less than 4sec? Then read on.

I can’t keep up with all these fast Audis (not much can). What’s the difference between the RS6 and RS7?

Both are built from the same platform, and employ the same bi-turbo V8, but the RS6 uses a modified version of the A6 Avant (estate) body, while the RS7 gets the four-door coupe body (it’s actually a five-door hatch) from the A7 range and costs £6510 more. Interestingly, Audi hasn’t attempted to fit the trademark Quattro arch shoulders to either car. The RS7 in particular, looks rather tame.

Bit of a Q-car then?

Well it’s not exactly invisible. You get 20in wheels (21s are optional), and some subtle styling tweaks, inlcuding twin oval tailpipes, but the effect is more S7 than RS7, though you’ll pay a socking £21,165 more for the R prefix. That’s £2646 for every tenth shaved from the sprint to 62mph.

What sort of extra firepower does that buy you?

The S7 is a brisk machine, its twin-turbo V8 producing 414bhp and 405lb ft to take you to 62mph in 4.7sec. But for the RS7, Audi’s engineers extracted 552bhp and 516lb ft of torque, making it more powerful than any standard rival bar the BMW M6 Gran Coupe, which puts the same number of horses to the ground, and can even be pumped up to 567bhp with a tick on the option sheet.

Quattro traction masks the fact that the 1995kg RS7 is at least 25kg rounder than any rival, powering you to 62mph in 3.9sec, compared with 4.7sec in the S7, and pushing you deep into the seat even beyond 100mph. It’s an oddly muted sensation though, and we’d welcome a bit more noise, at least in the Drive Select’s Dynamic mode. Top speed is 155mph as standard, but Audi will up the limiter to 189mph for a four-figure sum, surely one of the most pointless options ever made available to a UK customer. More useful is the focus on efficiency. The RS7 can return 28.8mpg and emits only 229g/km of CO2, figures no rivals can match.

What about the RS7's chassis?

First thing: don’t bother with the Dynamic pack. It swaps the standard air suspension for traditional steel coils (although you do get adaptive dampers), ruins the ride, and doesn’t transform the handling sufficiently to make that a worthwhile sacrifice.

These big Audis are never the last word in dynamic entertainment. They go fast, they grip, and, in the case of the RS7 with its clever rear differential, they actually turn. But the steering varies between dull and hateful, depending on the mode, and I’m sure I even dectected a hint of torque steer when stomping the right pedal to overtake on a B-road.

The RS7 is an accomplished machine, and if your idea of fun is demolishing roads at the fastest speed possible, it is entertaining. You don’t expect, or even want, your business express to drive like a Lotus Elise. But particularly in its steering, the RS7 absolutely lacks the delicate subtlety of a Jaguar XFR, a sports saloon that proves big cars can be tactile too.

Verdict

Despite the headline-grabbing power output, the RS7 is not the most extrovert car in its class. But it does conform perfectly to the Audi RS template, being handsome, extremely fast and beautifully built. Would we buy one? No, we’d take the mechancially identical, but conceptually more mischievous RS6 Avant instead.

>> Click here for CAR's scoop on the upcoming Audi RS6 Plus, packing a hilarious 600bhp...

Specs

Price when new: £83,495
On sale in the UK: Autumn 2013
Engine: 3993cc 32v V8, 552bhp @ 5700-6600rpm, 516lb ft @ 1750-5500rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto, four-wheel drive
Performance: 3.9sec 0-62mph, 155mph, 28.8mpg, 229g/km CO2
Weight / material: 1995kg/steel (20% aluminium)
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 5012/2139/1419mm

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By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker

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