Audi convertibles: most impressive
Audi RS7 review (2013 year onwards)
Audi RS7: summary
Whopping power boost brings supercar levels of performance to Audi’s big four-door coupe. But would you spend close to £100k on it?
We like: depth of performance, solid build quality, massive luggage area
We don’t like: detached feel to the steering, aggressive restyle, only four seats
Audi RS7: first impressions
Big coupes like the Mercedes CL and BMW 6 Series are spectacular. They ooze class, have looks to kill and go like an express train. But they also have limited appeal and it’s not just the price. Only two doors and seating for four at a push, the constraints are obvious.
Enter the Mercedes CLS, which Audi followed with the A7 and BMW with the 6 Series Gran Coupe. These are crossover coupes, combining much of the style of the two-door models with some cleverly squeezed-in rear doors.
Like most large cars these days, diesel is king, but for the ultimate incarnation it’s still a petrol engine that rules the roost. This Audi RS7 is new for 2013, taking the 4.0-litre V8 from the recent RS6 Avant to produce a coupe that gets as close to £100,000 and 200mph as you’ll probably want.
Everyone will realise that you haven’t got a mere A7, too. There’s a hefty restyle to the nose of the car that isn’t in the best possible taste.
Audi RS7: performance
0-62mph in 3.9 seconds is true supercar territory
Any Audi with an RS badge comes with the promise of magnificent performance. Once you’d have found an exotic turbocharged 5.0-litre V10 engine, with lineage tracing back to Lamborghini, in the top end models. Today we have to think about efficiency as well, so this time it’s a twin turbo 4.0 V8.
Sound a bit tame? Er, no. First there is 560 horsepower to play with. Then there’s an exhaust that varies from a burble to a roar to a spitting python on full-bore gearchanges. The RS7 rockets down the road like, well, a rocket, with the acceleration never abating within the realms of sane speeds.
It’s true supercar territory; no, even more, verging on the hypercar. 0-62 mph is reached in an astonishing 3.9 seconds. If you specify the £10,725 Dynamic Pack Plus package, the speed-limiting device is recalibrated from 155mph to 189mph.
The RS7 is fitted with an eight-speed automatic transmission that has Regular, Dynamic and manual modes, the latter accessed via paddles behind the wheel. It’s not the usual Audi DSG type of transmission, but the ZF box fitted to many top end cars in recent years. Changes are supremely smooth.
Audi RS7: ride and handling
This car will simply do whatever you ask of it
There a couple of options here and the decision you make when ordering an RS7 is a critical one. The standard car comes with air suspension, Dynamic models get steel springs and sophisticated interlinked damper control, which is aimed at tighter body control – preferable should you take your RS7 onto a racetrack.
But would you ever do this? If not then the regular car may be preferable, because the ride is smoother in the Comfort setting. On either version there’s the opportunity to adjust the driving stance of the car.
Indeed, if you dig into the menu system there are over half a dozen individual characteristics that can be personalised to make the RS7 drive just how you want it.
We expressed doubts about the steering on the RS6, and the RS7 is no different – with a strange artificial weighting to it that simply feels wrong in the sportier setting. But it’s fine in the regular mode.
Quattro four-wheel-drive is, naturally, a feature that endows the RS7 with supreme levels of grip, particularly on the optional 21-inch rims fitted to the test cars. There’s the sense that this car will simply do whatever you ask of it, even though the final edge of driving engagement is never present.
Audi RS7: interior
It may seem unkind to accuse the RS7 of having a generic Audi interior, but it’s hard to argue against the similarity with every other top-end model from the company.
Fundamentally though, it’s a clean, clinical Germanic design. The instruments in particular look classier than many the TFT (thin film transistor) digital displays that are becoming so popular on rival cars.
‘Cylinder-on-demand’ that shuts down four of the eight cylinders on light engine loads
There are, almost inevitably, great depths to the menu system on the large screen that controls the satnav, music, suspension settings and numerous other facets of the RS7.
To its credit the system is largely logical and easy to explore, although in contrast the switches set back by the central cup holders are impossible to make out while driving.
Space? Depends what you expect. Four a four-door car it’s just about OK for four six-footers, though rear headroom is limited for anyone much taller. There is a choice of front seats that are suitably sporty with good shaping. In the back the three-seat option of the lesser A7 has gone, with just two very firm buckets.
Luggage space is impressive. The RS7 is a hatchback, though Audi would prefer it was referred to as the Sportback. Either way, the tailgate opens onto a very large floor area and the rear seat backrests readily flop down should you need a longer load platform.
Audi RS7: economy and safety
The RS7 certainly does the trick if you demand outstanding performance
Engine stop-start and ‘cylinder-on-demand’ that shuts down four of the eight cylinders on light loads contributes to a 5-10% saving in fuel, equating to a combined economy figure of 28.8mpg, impressive for a car that weighs in at two tonnes.
It’s hard to imagine a car that offers a higher count of safety features than the RS7 (although the new Mercedes S-Class probably manages it). From a wealth of airbags to adaptive cruise control and accident prediction, this is a reassuring car to live with.
Audi RS5: the MSN Cars verdict
This is a curious section of the car market. Sizeable cars which produce masses of horsepower that it's generally impossible to take advantage of. We can’t help feeling that the less esoteric Audi A7 makes more sense than the RS7.
Yet the RS7 certainly does the trick if you demand outstanding performance. It’s just half a second slower to 62mph than a McLaren MP4-12C, and there’s a chassis that provides much reassurance if not ultimately the involvement you might crave.
For us the base RS7 is the one to have, promising grand touring comfort combined with speed. But you’ll have to accept your RS7 will reach only 155mph.
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