You are here
Audi S7: Worth the V8
German motorways can sometimes make you fall asleep. However, it’s difficult to do so when a V8 is hell bent on keeping you awake
What else do you expect when you give a mighty V8 four mikes?! That’s what Audi’s gone and done in its S7, you see. The result is, every time you step on its tail, this Teutonic titan gets up and roars right back at you through its high-quality music system. Needless to say, this is the first time I’m driving a car without any music playing but the engine’s. But you have to see the S7 before you can hear it. And a commanding sight, it is.
The S7 is an A7 with more obsession liberally applied to the details. First off, there’s that typical ‘S’ grille that mixes the horizontal with the vertical to make a chrome-finish eggcrate with which the A7 bares its teeth at the world – in a polished, high-quality manner, of course. Its chin, side skirts and rear bumper are more predatory than the A7’s, with huge wheels that grab your attention. And then there’s that drop of blood at either end – the S7 badge with its red accent that’s simultaneously subtle and striking in a sea of paint and chrome. It’s like a bright red mole on someone’s face that you can’t stop staring at. But there’s more to the S7’s appearance than that, of course.
Aptly, there is more aggression in the overall design, but not without a certain stateliness – I suppose you could call it ‘distinguished aggression’. Think of it as a bouncer in a tuxedo. A bouncer that looks like a whole lot of other people. Yes, I’m cribbing about the family-face syndrome again. But yet again, it’s just me, because people seem to have no problem with cars looking like clones of varying shapes and sizes. However, with that shapely rear to ogle at, that déjà vu effect is readily forgotten.
There’s no two ways about it – the S7 looks its swooping best seen in profile and rear three-quarters. The roofline is an all-metal single-colour rainbow that gleams under the cold winter sun, delightful to look at. It’s called the ‘sportback’ style and is aimed directly at Merc’s CLS. And to back up (from the front) that desirable derriere, the S7 floods your senses with 414bhp from that 3993cc V8 contained under its bulging bonnet. That number is complemented by a smooth but unstoppable 550Nm and together, they’re pretty good at making autobahn-mincemeat. This is excellent, since you can show other road users the S7’s best viewing angle at will.
At relaxed rpms, the S7 is improbably smooth – it will take some amount of psychic powers coupled with a crystal ball to tell what’s under the hood. Indeed, one of the journalists on the drive commented that it felt like “a bloody electric car!” and he wasn’t exaggerating. It’s thanks to the Cylinder-on-Demand system that the S7 employs – essentially, it makes do with four cylinders until it needs the other four to prevent its driver from falling asleep. And when it does, it fills the cabin with a deep rumble that sounds as if it’s being generated by Mother Nature rather than a piece of German engineering. What a sound.
Rolling along on the German motorway, sat in the middle lane at a content 130kph, the S7 feels as eventful as an old age home at night. The road is so boring, I resort to counting the number of German cars that I pass. By the time I decide that Germans like to buy German and that their roads and cars look like a ‘Transporter’ movie minus the carnage, I realise that counting cars is the same as counting sheep.
My co-driver has already fallen asleep, while I tell the woman in the dashboard (“please turn right in 27km”) to shut up. So far, I’ve had my apprehensions about flooring the S7’s right pedal – I don’t want to end up on Germany’s version of ‘Wild Police Chases’, if they have such a thing. Nonetheless, I’m an Indian and it’s about time I acted like one, eh?
I prod the throttle, tentatively at first. My left hand helps the seven-speed automatic ’box skip a few cogs via the flappy paddle, and the S7 purposefully hoists the tacho needle into a more aggressive zone, poised to strike. Encouraged by the car’s sudden eagerness to strain at the leash, I let it loose – and my co-driver wakes up. Each blink sees the S7 devour vast amounts of distance to the horizon, turning the friendly neighbourhood traffic into nothingness in the mirror.
Simple, all-conquering forward motion is the S7’s forte and I can see it’s entirely capable of crossing the length and breadth of Germany without breaking a sweat. If you so choose, the S7 will sprint from 0 to 100kph in 4.7 seconds. Top speed, as with most German cars, is an electronically strangulated 250kph. And of course, where there’s ‘Audi’, there’s also ‘quattro’.
The S7’s flowing shape hides a whole lot of technological prowess that inspires jargon that’s poetry to automobile engineers and anoraks alike. A quattro sport differential varies power to the rear wheels in corners – I never get to feel this because it’s a tad difficult to go cornering on arrow-straight motorways. The couple of corners I chance upon, the S7 breezes through them with poise and authority. Suspension, as far as I can tell on these smooth roads, seems to be regular Audi fare – comfortably firm.
A lot of people – including manufacturers – take a lot of pride and devote reams of brochure paper to the opulence of their interiors. I don’t really understand it, but I do acknowledge that while horsepower and torque rule conversations at the gentlemen’s club, it’s the leather, wood and plastic that they use fully in day-to-day life. The well-appointed and classily finished S7 is like any other high-end Audi in this respect and will provoke no complaints from its occupants. It’s a very capable bridge between the A7 and the RS7... and therein lies the problem.
‘S7’ does not possess the outright sex that ‘RS7’ does. If you could, wouldn’t you want to get bored in an RS-badged car? Of course, in the real everyday world, you’ll never miss the ‘R’. Except bright red paint, of course... That’ll keep me awake, for sure.
(Words: Kartik Ware)