Audi RS7 Review 2023 | Top Gear
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Tuesday 31st January
An Audi RS that nails its basics but also sprinkles in some genuine fun. A proper E63 and M5 rival at last

Good stuff

Bespoke bodywork, flexible interior, much speed, actual engagement

Bad stuff

It's SO big. And it's no bargain

Overview

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.

RS7 mk1 certainly wasn’t an all-time great, so Audi’s gone right back to the drawing board, and convinced the keeper of the company finances to dig deep so that it can swap most of the body panels to endow it with a much wider, burlier look than a regular A7. It’s gained 40mm in width and the makeover is so successful, say the designers, they’ve not had to add a fixed spoiler or the faux vents and grilles that plague even some of their own cars.

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It 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.

That’s not why most people buy an RS, of course, but worry not. Beneath the skin there have also been big changes. Its 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 produces the same 592bhp as the outgoing RS7 Performance, but there’s more torque as well as a new mild-hybrid system that shaves 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 can also switch to a V4 under light throttle loads.

Performance doesn’t suffer, though, with a 3.6sec 0-62mph time and optional 190mph top speed surely more than ample in a car weighing two tonnes. 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 UK models getting a standard Sport Differential at the back as well as 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 latter massively stems understeer. Understeer being the traditional foe of the big Audi RS saloon, of course. Have they succeeded?

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What's the verdict?

An Audi RS that nails its basics but also sprinkles in some genuine fun. A proper E63 and M5 rival at last

Lauding a near-600bhp, 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 new 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.

Full judgement will come when we get one on UK roads – to check it rides properly – and in the vicinity of its myriad rivals, with the BMW M5 and two different four-door Mercedes-AMGs for it to prove itself against. 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.

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