Bespoke bodywork, flexible interior, much speed, actual engagement
It's SO big. And it's no bargain
What is it?
The Audi RS7 is the less sensible sibling of the RS6 Avant. The Audi Sport team have turned their back on traditional saloons (dinky RS3 aside), offering the five-door coupe Sportback models as an alternative alongside more conventional estates, coupes and roadsters.
Tell me more about the RS7 in particular, then.
Well, RS7 mk1 certainly wasn’t an all-time great. For this second generation car, first revealed back in 2019, Audi went right back to the drawing board, endowing it with a much wider, burlier look than a regular A7. Indeed it gained 40mm in width and the makeover was so successful, says Audi, it didn’t need to add a fixed spoiler or the faux vents and grilles that plague even some of their own cars.
It also now has five seats rather than four – “important to compete against classic saloons,” says Audi – and you can even use this mk2 RS7 to tow things.
Has it been updated since 2019?
It certainly has. When this second-gen RS7 first arrived, its 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 produced 592bhp and 590lb ft of torque. It also introduced a new mild-hybrid system that helped fuel consumption by allowing the engine to coast over short distances, and the stop/start to kick in from speeds as high as 13mph. The V8 could also switch to a V4 under light throttle loads.
Performance didn’t suffer, though, with a 3.6 second 0-62mph time and optional 190mph top speed surely more than ample in a car weighing two tonnes. Naturally, in late 2022 Audi announced the RS6 Avant and RS7 Sportback ‘Performance’ editions.
The RS7 Performance is now your only option in the UK, and the headlines are 621bhp and 627lb ft of torque courtesy of bigger turbos and an increase in boost pressure. The 0-62mph time drops by 0.2 seconds (to 3.4) as a result.
It goes without saying this car is monstrously quick. The engine drives all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox, with as much as 85 per cent of power sent to the rear axle, though not courtesy of a lightly immature ‘drift mode’ like you’ll find on its BMW M5 and Mercedes-AMG E63 rivals.
The car’s brain shuffles power around to where it’s best utilised, with the Performance getting a standard Sport Differential at the back in addition to the self-locking centre differential. That rear diff comes as part of the standard RS Dynamic Package which also adds four-wheel steering. Increasingly the norm in fast German stuff – to effectively shrink big performance cars into little ones in corners – Audi’s engineers say the four-wheel steer system massively stems understeer. Understeer being the traditional foe of the big Audi RS saloon, of course. Have they succeeded? Find out over on the Driving tab of this review.
Is anything else new on the RS7 Performance?
At over two tonnes before you’ve added any fluids or passengers, the RS7 Performance is by no means a lightweight, but Audi did work on trimming some of the fat for this latest version. It fitted a new 22-inch wheel that’s 5kg lighter per corner than the old one and stripped out 8kg of sound deadening from between the engine bay and interior. It also offers an RS Dynamic Package Plus which raises the top speed to that 190mph max and adds ceramic brakes that are 34kg lighter in total than the standard steel units.
How much will it cost me?
Are you sitting down? At the time of writing the RS7 Sportback Performance starts at £115,225 in the UK. That's a huge chunk of money, but it’s also rather a lot of car too. In fact, it’s 1.95m wide and over 5m long. Oh, and if you want this super Sportback in full fat ‘Carbon Vorsprung’ trim prices start at £132,625 before options. Yikes.
What's the verdict?
Lauding a 621bhp, five-seat sports saloon as excellent shouldn’t feel newsworthy, but with RS-badged cars, success isn’t always a given. Luckily Audi Sport appears to have nailed this one, giving the RS7 Sportback all the comfort and ‘bahn-storming pace a car like this needs, but not at the expense of the fun and engagement people like us desire.
The small upgrades to turn it into the Performance have worked wonders too, with proper sound and even better turn-in yet just as much comfort as ever. There are still a myriad of rivals in this field, with the RS7 up against the BMW M5, the Mercedes-AMG E63 and the slightly more expensive AMG GT 4dr. Not to mention Porsche’s ever-competent Panamera. But if you adore the way the RS7 looks, the good news is there’s plenty of substance to back up its style. Phew.