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Audi RS7 Sportback facelift review, test drive

13th May 2015 6:24 pm

Is there more to the updated version of Audi’s mega sedan than just some fancy headlamps?

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  • Make : Audi
  • Model : RS7

What is it?

It’s the freshly launched facelifted version of the Audi RS7 Sportback, and yes, the first thing you will notice are those sexy, slimmer new headlights. Like before, they’re full LED units, but now, there’s the option of the ‘Matrix’ system we saw in the A8. What that means is a slick new Y-shaped pattern for the running lamps and an adaptive system whereby each of the diodes within the lamp can operate independently, lighting up precisely what you need to see and preventing oncoming traffic from being blinded. It’s all incredibly clever, but let’s be honest, most will love it for how menacing it makes the new RS7 look. It’s a similar story with the new smoked black LED tail-lamps, and the indicators that now swipe in the direction you are turning.

Although it’s not like the RS7 was ever lacking in visual drama. The svelte Sportback shape is one of the most attractive around, and then there’s the RS addenda – wide, sharp-edged bumpers, huge intakes, black honeycomb grille (wider than before), massive oval tailpipes and flared wheel arches. Then there’s the optional 21-inch wheels (similar design as before, but now finished in two-tone gloss paint), the hunkered-down stance and the gorgeous shade of blue that this car is wearing. While luxury super-sedans often intentionally look a bit restrained, this is not one of them.

The cabin is still a wonderfully luxurious place for four – save for that slightly low and narrow rear cabin – but here too, Audi has added a number of subtle things that you notice over time. Each seat is lit up individually by an overhead lamp as you open the corresponding door, for example. The MMI system has an updated operating system that has a few improvements. It can now play video files (though only when the car’s stationary), it’s much easier to browse through your music and, for the first time in recent memory, Audi has provided two USB ports in the centre bin – no more silly ‘accessory cable’ required. There’s also a better colour screen between the dials now.

What’s it like to drive?

The RS7 is limited by default to a top speed of 250kph, and you can have that raised to 280kph or a ridiculous 305kph with a performance pack. Since exercising these limits would require the main straight of the Buddh International Circuit (which we don’t have with us today), let’s focus on what it’s like in more everyday conditions. There are no mechanical changes on this facelift, so you still get the same ferocious 4.0-litre, twin-turbocharged, direct-injection V8 that produces 553bhp and 71.38kgm and will haul two tonnes worth of Audi to 100kph in just 3.9 seconds. The power delivery is pleasingly urgent for a turbocharged engine, at least in Dynamic mode – there’s barely a hint of hesitation before it launches you at the horizon. Part of that, of course, is down to the quick-shifting ZF eight-speed gearbox.

In fact, it’s this gearbox that sets the tone for the RS7’s dual, luxury-sportscar personality. While most performance cars have switched over to dual-clutch setups (Audi’s own R8 included), this car sticks with a good old fashioned, eight-speed torque converter that’s related to the one in the A8 limo. So, while it’s quick to react and swap cogs (it only starts to falter slightly when you’re really hammering it), it’s perfectly civilised in Comfort mode. It’s the same for the ride, despite those optional 21-inch wheels and low-profile tyres (never thought we’d recommend 20-inch wheels as the sensible option). Yes, it’s firm and a little skittish over bumps, especially in Dynamic, but so far from what you’d call uncomfortable.

The engine too, in Dynamic with the gearbox in ‘S’, likes to keep the revs high for the best responses, but here too, it’s not as if it’s undriveable at low speeds. Of course, the correct thing to do at low speeds is use Comfort mode, in which case it’s downright docile at part throttle. And with the combination of engine stop-start and cylinder deactivation, you could probably manage some pretty conventional fuel economy figures – provided you’re very gentle with the throttle, of course.

The dynamics too stay unchanged. The steering still feels a bit too numb for the kind of performance it has to harness, but the turn-in is quite direct and the long nose goes where you want it to. There’s an incredible amount of grip from the wide tyres and Quattro system, and you’d have to be quite, um, reckless with your throttle foot to unsettle it in a corner – it’s not impossible though. All in all, you’ll be happier for the feeling of security the all-wheel-drive system offers when you want to drive quickly on regular roads.

Should I buy one?

Yes. While Rs 1.4 crore (ex-showroom Delhi) may sound like a lot, remember, it’s only around Rs 4 lakh more than what the pre-facelift car cost when it was last on sale – not a huge amount in this rarefied end of the luxury sedan market, especially when some rivals cost a fair bit more. The additions made with the update may not be many, but what they contribute to the wow factor and, in some cases, user-friendliness, is well worth it. The point of these super sedans is to combine all the luxury, usability and comfort you expect with all the mental performance you crave, and the RS7 walks that fine line so deftly. One of the best in the segment has only got a little better.

GAVIN D’SOUZA

PRICE Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Price Range Ex-showroom - Delhi 1.40 crore - - - -
ENGINE Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Fuel Type / Propulsion Petrol - - - -
Torque to Weight Ratio (Nm/tonne) 71.38 kgm @ 1750 RPM - - - -
Hybrid type 3993 cc, V8 - - - -
Power 560 bhp @ 5700 RPM - - - -
TRANSMISSION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
No of Gears Eight-Speed Automatic - - - -
Dimensions Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Length (mm) 5012 mm - - - -
Width (mm) 1911 mm - - - -
Height (mm) 1419 mm - - - -
Wheelbase (mm) 2915 mm - - - -
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