When we drove the S6 earlier, we were astonished by its 4.0-litre V8’s back-crunching punch. The RS7 shares the same engine but in different tune. Very different, in fact. Where the S6 makes 414bhp, the RS7 makes a mindboggling 553bhp. That gives it a specific output of 138bhp per litre, which is more than a Lamborghini Aventador!
These figures truly come to life as soon as you bury the throttle pedal, which we did in the Italian Alps. Thumping 71.38kgm of torque from as low as 1750rpm, the RS7 just takes off with a loud burble from the V8 and with you deeply buried in the well-contoured driver’s seat. The power delivered is explosive, and even short bursts of acceleration are addictive. Just remember, this car weighs nearly two tonnes, yet it manages a supercar time of 3.9 seconds to hundred. The eight-speed, torque converter gearbox is lightning-quick with its shifts and, as ever, you can use it in manual mode, gears shifting up only when you pull the right paddle. Tone it all down and the RS7 is equally impressive. On some of the town roads we encountered in Italy, in Comfort setting, the car felt as civilised as a regular A7.
But the V8’s volume adds to the thrill factor. When you set the sport exhaust in Dynamic mode, the blown V8 growls at idle, grunts like a tiger at part-throttle and has a refined V8 howl as it closes in on its redline.
Dynamically the RS7 is more cultured, rather than nerve-wracking like the BMW M5 or the Mercedes E63 AMG. It rides on standard air suspension and sits around 10mm lower than the standard A7 model. The Drive Select system allows you to alter its character, with more direct throttle and steering mapping in Dynamic mode and more absorbent damping in Comfort setting.
The RS7 is quite stiffly sprung, but it isn’t overly harsh on Europe’s smooth surfacing. The grip level, as on any Audi with Quattro system, is extremely high and reassuring. However, the steering, though nicely weighted, lacks the ultimate feedback and feels slightly artificial, especially in the off-centre position.
Slide in behind the sporty, flat-bottom, three-spoke steering wheel of this Audi and you can’t help but be impressed from the very first moment. It’s as big on perceived quality as it is on style. The attention to detail and ergonomics are fantastic, giving this performance saloon not only a sporty ambience but a classy feel too.
The Audi RS7 would make for a terrific long-distance car. It’s got a massive 553 bhp, but the all-wheel-drive system manages all this grunt with aplomb. Audi has launched the RS7 in India at Rs 1.29 crore (ex-showroom, Mumbai). For this price, you will get that fantastic V8, a stylish appearance and the convenience of a four-door saloon.