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

First drive: Audi RS 7 Sportback
Audi drops the RS6 powertrain into the A7 body shell and adds yet another RS model to the mix.

   



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| First Drive | Neckarsulm, Germany | Audi RS 7 Sportback |

Overall rating: 4 4 4 4 4

Audi's RS model line-up grows with the addition of the RS 7 Sportback, mating the RS 6's mighty heart and quattro drivetrain to the low, wide body of the A7. Sounds like a heady cocktail, but its estate relation is the more appealing offering.

Key Facts

Model tested: Audi RS 7 Sportback
Pricing: £83,495
Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol
Transmission: four-wheel drive, eight-speed automatic
Body style: four-door coupé
Rivals: BMW M6 Gran Coupé, Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG, Porsche Panamera GTS/Turbo
CO2 emissions: 229g/km
Combined economy: 28.8mpg
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
0-62mph: 3.9 seconds
Power: 560hp at 5,700- to 6,600rpm
Torque: 700Nm at 1,700- to 5,500rpm

In the Metal: 3 3 3 3 3

The Audi RS 7 is rather too subtle for our liking, at least for a machine wearing the RS badge that signifies the highest output, greatest intensity model in a given Audi model range. Sure, the A7 is a handsome starting point, but surely those two letters should at least bring blistered arches and perhaps a bulge in the bonnet? After all, it's packing 560hp, courtesy of a bi-turbo 4.0-litre V8 engine. There's the option to add a matt aluminium package outside for £875 - featuring a 'quattro' emblazoned front grille - or there's a carbon effect package offered too, but even so equipped it's more S than RS in its looks.

Changes inside follow the usual RS brief, with white and red dials, RS badging, RS sports seats and steering wheel and the availability of no-cost Alcantara and leather interior upholstery.

Driving it: 3 3 3 3 3

The combination of four-wheel drive and that mighty 4.0-litre bi-turbo engine gives the RS 7 the sort of bombastic, crushing pace that's become an RS hallmark. It's so easy to gain speed it's merely a case of prodding the accelerator and hanging on, the eight-speed Tiptronic auto dishing out its ratios as quickly as the engine devours them. It's smooth most of the time, though the gearbox can be a touch clunky at slow speeds, especially if you've set it in its most dynamic mode. Do that and the steering and suspension (and even the seatbelt pre-tensioners) and the RS 7 becomes sharper, yet more unyielding, it arguably at its most accessible and useable when the various settings are dialled back to comfort.

Given the rocket-ship pace the soundtrack is slightly disappointing, the standard exhaust and engine rather muted, even when pushed to extremes. Do so and the RS 7 really is biblically quick, though its pace doesn't come with particularly engaging handling, nor quick-witted or feelsome steering. Indeed, horizon-chasing performance aside the RS 7 really lacks any sort of interaction or involvement. Yes, it'll get you down almost any road at speeds way quicker than you ought to, but it does so with an aloof technical superiority that makes you feel like you're neither adding anything to it nor getting anything much back from it.

UK cars come with air suspension as standard, while a sportier steel spring set up (with adaptive dampers) adds more stiffness, but to the serious detriment of ride quality. It's an option here - don't choose it, as it even makes smooth German tarmac uncomfortable.

What you get for your Money: 3 3 3 3 3

You're buying the fastest car in its class by a sizeable margin. The RS 7 ducks below four seconds in the 0-62mph sprint, beating a BMW M car, AMG Merc and even Porsche's fastest Panamera to the line. Given it undercuts all in price that's quite an achievement, though spec adjusted it's unlikely that the gap in prices between the German luxo-power war shoot-out will be quite as glaring.

Worth Noting

One of the options you can have is the top-speed limiter raised. Do so and you can jump from 155- to 174mph, or 189mph. It'd be silly to go for the latter really, but then if you've shelled out so much already it does seem a bit silly not to have its full potential should you be passing through its homeland. What it'll do without that final 189mph limiter Audi isn't saying... but we'd chance a guess at well over 200mph.

Summary

If you've noticed that the praise here has been faint then you'd be right; the RS 7 lacks the appeal of its RS 6 Avant sibling. All the lunatic pace is made even more amusing when combined with something as unlikely as an estate body shell. In the RS 6 it's easier to forgive the shortcomings that typify Audi's current RS models, that being the notable lack of any sort of interaction. Fast and impeccably built, it's also very one dimensional in its appeal, which, given the breadth of talent on offer from its rivals, makes the RS 7 difficult to get excited about - even if the numbers look mighty appealing.


Kyle Fortune - 17 Jul 2013



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2013 Audi RS 7 Sportback. Image by Audi.2013 Audi RS 7 Sportback. Image by Audi.2013 Audi RS 7 Sportback. Image by Audi.2013 Audi RS 7 Sportback. Image by Audi.2013 Audi RS 7 Sportback. Image by Audi.

2013 Audi RS 7 Sportback. Image by Audi.2013 Audi RS 7 Sportback. Image by Audi.2013 Audi RS 7 Sportback. Image by Audi.2013 Audi RS 7 Sportback. Image by Audi.2013 Audi RS 7 Sportback. Image by Audi.



2013 Audi RS 7 Sportback. Image by Audi.
 

2013 Audi RS 7 Sportback. Image by Audi.
 

2013 Audi RS 7 Sportback. Image by Audi.
 

2013 Audi RS 7 Sportback. Image by Audi.
 

2013 Audi RS 7 Sportback. Image by Audi.
 

2013 Audi RS 7 Sportback. Image by Audi.
 

2013 Audi RS 7 Sportback. Image by Audi.
 

2013 Audi RS 7 Sportback. Image by Audi.
 






 

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