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First drive: Audi RS 7 Sportback. Image by Audi AG.

First drive: Audi RS 7 Sportback
The Audi RS 7 Sportback gains mild-hybrid tech and supercar performance.

 



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Audi RS 7 Sportback

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Just how many buyers will cite the introduction of fuel-saving mild-hybrid electrification as their reason for buying the second-generation Audi RS 7 Sportback remains to be seen. More likely it'll be the incredible performance and matching looks that now set it apart from the regular A7 model.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Audi RS 7 Sportback
Pricing: tbc
Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol
Transmission: eight-speed Tiptronic automatic, quattro all-wheel drive
Body style: five-door saloon
CO2 emissions: 261g/km (VED Band Over 255: 2,135 first 12 months, then 465 per annum years two to six of ownership, then 145 annually thereafter)
Fuel economy: 24.7mpg
Top speed: 155mph (limited); optional 174mph or 189mph limiters
0-62mph: 3.6 seconds
Power: 600hp at 6,000-6,250rpm
Torque: 800Nm at 2.050-4,500rpm
Boot space: 535-1,390 litres

What's this?

The Audi RS 7 Sportback returns as a more unique model than its predecessor. Sporting a new, wider body that sees only the bonnet, roof, front doors and tailgate carry across from the standard car, the most potent version of Audi's sleekest saloon now looks more the part. Enlarged intakes at the front help to keep its turbocharged V8 cool as it churns out its 600hp potential. In typical Audi fashion, all that power is dispatched to each corner via a quattro all-wheel-drive transmission. For the majority of the time that means a 40:60 front-to-rear split, though in the extreme it can send up to 85 per cent of power rearwards.

How does it drive?

As standard, the RS 7 comes with an air suspension system that provides three distinct settings and includes a self-levelling function, similar to that used in the RS 6. Even with those huge 21-inch wheels, the ride quality is rather good, though leaving it in Sport mode can induce a fair amount of patter on sub-par tarmac. Thankfully, a quick toggle to Comfort mode instantly eradicated this.

It's not just the suspension that makes this saloon so civilised. When moving through towns and cities, the automatic transmission is smooth and the belt-alternator starter (BAS) that it uses for the start-stop system makes the process far less noticeable. It also enables the engine to switch off at a higher speed when rolling to a stop and when it detects a vehicle in front moving away restarts the engine to ensure a delay-free getaway.

The second part of that 48-volt mild hybrid system is a small lithium-ion battery that lies in the boot of the car. It is topped up through energy recovered via the BAS during normal driving and when decelerating. With a sufficient charge, and when the driving situations permit, it can turn off the engine on the move and at speeds ranging from 34- to 99mph. This start-stop on the go can last for up to 40 seconds before seamlessly restarting through the BAS.

Considering that the RS 7 can ride on up to 22-inch wheels, the suppleness of the suspension deserves mention. All cars get an adaptive air suspension as standard, offering three different settings. The ride height is 20mm lower than a standard A7, and when the speed exceeds 74mph the car drops by a further 10mm to aid airflow around and under the car. Optionally, there is an enhanced RS Sport suspension that features Dynamic Ride Control (DRC), that adds a greater degree of differentiation between the drive modes, and which uses a hydraulically linked system to reduce pitch and roll movements. From a technical standpoint, the latter is an impressive system, though it's a touch of overkill for everyday road driving. Having tried it, we don't think it offers the same level of comfort that the air suspension does.

But it's the outright pace and performance that will entice buyers towards an RS 7, rather than its attempts to save minute amounts of fuel. That engine doles out power at phenomenal rates, and the AWD transmission rarely seems flustered in transmitting it to the ground. A glance at the tech specs indicates quite a narrow band where you get the peak 600hp, but in reality the car is almost like an EV, such is the pick-up and sense of instant power it delivers.

Additional features such as the dedicated 'RS 1' and 'RS 2' buttons on the steering wheel allow the user to map specific chassis and drive modes to them, serving as a shortcut to getting the car into the right setup instantly. It's worth doing because there are many parameters that you can adjust. Once you have it the way you want it, you can fully experience what this car is capable of doing. The RS 7 is clinical in how it performs, helped partly by that all-wheel-drive system and the inclusion of rear-wheel steering. Drivers will feel imbued with confidence, and even as the speed ratchets up, there seems to be little that can shake the RS 7. Some may find it just a touch too clinical in how the car goes about its business, though few will disagree that the level of sheer performance and pace available, in what is now a five-seat saloon, can't be knocked.

Verdict

In the time between the first RS 7 appearing and this latest version arriving, the super sports saloon market has seen its fair share of new contenders enter the fray. If you're in the market for something sleek with the capability of worrying your local supercar owners, then this RS 7 Sportback will certainly appeal.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

5 5 5 5 5 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Dave Humphreys - 24 Sep 2019









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2019 Audi RS 7 Sportback. Image by Audi AG.2019 Audi RS 7 Sportback. Image by Audi AG.2019 Audi RS 7 Sportback. Image by Audi AG.2019 Audi RS 7 Sportback. Image by Audi AG.2019 Audi RS 7 Sportback. Image by Audi AG.

2019 Audi RS 7 Sportback. Image by Audi AG.2019 Audi RS 7 Sportback. Image by Audi AG.2019 Audi RS 7 Sportback. Image by Audi AG.2019 Audi RS 7 Sportback. Image by Audi AG.2019 Audi RS 7 Sportback. Image by Audi AG.








 

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