Sales of S, RS and R8s were up 172 per cent in 2013 and it’s just debuted its flagship grand tourer, the RS7 Sportback. Only 20 examples are due for Oz this year, each starting from a frosty $238,500.
The RS7 is softer-core and more style driven than the manic RS6 Avant, though it does pack the same twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8, good for 412kW and 700Nm. Audi’s claiming an identically mental 3.9sec 0-100km/h, too, though the eight-speed-auto Sportback lacks launch control and doesn’t quite feel as vicious off the mark as it appears on paper. Still, it’s bloody quick.
Air spring suspension, gorgeous 21-inch rims and a more relaxed interior treatment – particularly the seats – suggests the RS7 lacks authentic RS mettle. And at a hefty 1920kg, it’s not the most agile of the breed. But in taking the fight to the pricier CLS AMGs and M6 Gran Coupes, it does the job of long-haul ’bahn-storming very nicely indeed.
It looks amazing, especially in solid ‘primer’ grey, the Valcona leather-dipped four-seater cabin is sumptuous, it’s quiet-yet-characterful (in a stoic Audi sort of way) and it’s absolutely rock solid at a decent clip.
The eight-speed auto is a gem – slicker than almost all of VAG’s dual-clutchers – and allows the turbo V8 to tick over at 1800rpm with the cruise set to 110km/h. Despite those massive rollers, the RS7 has the finest ride comfort of any RS, and the keenest ride/handling balance of perhaps anything in the Audi range.
Dial up Dynamic drive mode and the jumbo-sized hatchback is quick in the twisty stuff, too. The rear-biased quattro system and sports rear diff conspire with the RS7’s robust grip to create an enjoyable corner carver, provided you keep its mass in check. And its autobahn-spec (420mm/370mm) brakes, too, deal with modest Aussie velocities without a fuss.
Questionable is why you must fork out $4900 for Dynamic Ride Control, Dynamic steering and a 280km/h speed limiter (up from 250). Let alone the Dynamic Ride Plus pack, which adds ceramic brakes and a 305km/h v-max for an extra $25,840. Carbonfibre styling?That’s another $8500.
Frankly, the RS7 is at its sweetest at a cruising speed above 150km/h. And you’d save the thick end of $60K with the slower, if equally tasty, (307kW) twin-turbo V8-powered S7.