Audi’s most powerful production car just also happens to be properly luxurious, beautiful to behold and ludicrously quick.
Despite all this, what dominates the RS7 experience is its engine. Like the S6 we drove a few months ago, it too uses a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged, direct-injection V8, but this one has had its wick turned up a fair bit. This also means it gets the clever cylinder-deactivation tech that lets it run on four cylinders when not under a full load to help save fuel, and there’s a stop-start function too, but make no mistake, this is a performance car; drive it like it's meant to be driven and it will guzzle fuel.
The engine barks to life when you push the start button and even at idle, there is a distant rumble, more so when you set the exhaust to Dynamic mode. There’s no Launch Control system on the RS7, but you don’t really need it. The power delivery is instantaneous and ferocious, and our test equipment verified that it actually managed to match Audi's claimed 3.9sec 0-100kph time! Astonishing for such a large vehicle. Though this is an all-wheel-drive car, the front end goes light at first with the weight transfer as the power is distributed. This was, however, partially down to the less-than-perfect road surface, on which the wide, 275-section front tyres struggled to find grip. But keep your foot pinned and the car will respond by pinning your head to the seat, and keeping it there till you lift off, the engine bellowing away all the while. The tacho needle races to the 6,800rpm redline and cogs are swapped almost seamlessly, making it seem like one endless surge. And though the performance is relentless, it's not brutal like in a supercar. By default, the RS7 is limited to 250kph, but on request (and for a fee), Audi will raise it for you to 280kph – a speed we have no doubt it is easily capable of, given enough tarmac.
The gearbox is the eight-speed, ZF-sourced, torque-converter automatic, and though it works fantastically in most conditions, it’s only under really high-performance driving that some shortcomings start to appear. For instance, it doesn’t let you manually downshift to the redline as some of the sporty double-clutch gearboxes do. In automatic mode, however, overtaking manoeuvres are easy and feel very rewarding – in kickdown, 40-100kph takes 3.24sec and 20-80kph a scant 2.7sec!