Some cars are known for performance. Some for luxury. Some are even known for teetotalling efficiency. Not Audi’s RS7 fastback. Its executive supercar is all business. All images by James Bailey.
When Tom stepped into the gleaming Audi dealership in downtown Denver, he knew exactly what vehicle he had his eyes set on. He’d spent the last three years leasing a quite capable Jaguar XJ, but thought the time had come to step up a notch in the petroleum-induced thrills department. “I liked the A7, but it just didn’t have the performance I was looking for. And while the S7 was comparable to my Jag, the numbers of the RS7 were through the roof,” explains Tom of what drew him to the Four Rings. “The additional RS styling was also key, and frankly I liked the idea that it was more exotic; it wasn’t an Audi model that you see on the streets everyday.”
The problem? The RS7 was “rarer than a hen’s tooth,” according to the salesmen. If they ever came in they only survived a couple hours on the showroom floor. One might be on its way, he mentioned coyly, but rumor had it a couple Colorado Avalanche players had already laid claim. Apparently star hockey players swing a bigger stick in the Rockies than contract attorneys.
And if he wanted to order one, Tom asked? That wouldn’t be a problem… as long as he was cool with waiting one year to receive his steed.
The idea was then posited by the eager salesmen that Tom could fly to Audi headquarters in Ingolstadt, order his RS7 like a bespoke Savile Row suit, and ship his creation back. What kind of sedan, he wondered aloud, required a man to fly 10,000 miles, to another continent and over oceans, to lay claim? One of great value and rarity, he was told. Tom’s travel agent is currently working overtime to book passage to Germany.
Fortunately for me, I would not have to wait a year for my RS7. No, I woke up on crisp Christmas Eve morning to find a cherry red model glinting in my driveway like a holy drop of Zeus’ blood, as powerful and divine. The only thing missing on it was a bow. And perhaps a warning sticker on the hood: This car means business.
Because of all the cars I’ve ever driven, few have meant business like Audi’s RS7. Like the more “pedestrian” A7 upon which it is imagined, it is an executive luxury saloon. An award-winning, fastback-styled “four door coupe” with a profile that’ll melt hearts. But unlike the base A7, the RS7 is anointed with a blistering direct injected twin-turbocharged engine that bludgeons 516 ft-lb of torque from its eight cylinders. It also rides on the excellent adaptive air suspension of the S7 — the performance model fit between the A7 and the RS7 — but is made even more firm via enlarged anti-roll bars. (There is an optional Dynamic Ride Control suspension with unforgiving steel springs, but we found the adjustable air suspension superb.) Just to let the Jones’s know this isn’t your dentist’s A7, the RS also gets swollen sheetmetal and one of the angriest fascias known to the free world — including a RS7-specific Singleframe grill, matte aluminum lower air intakes and a prominent diffuser and front bumper.
Continue reading the LIAS Exclusive Testdrive of the Audi RS7 supercar after the Jump…
“The RS7 is built for anyone in life who truly means business — be it CEO, international spy or possibly even lead-footed heads of state…”
It’s not just a car for successful businessmen, however, the RS7 is a craft built for anyone in life who truly means business — be it CEO, international spy or possibly even lead-footed heads of state. It is wondrous, its fastback design heart-stoppingly beautiful and yet laced with engineering that’s dead serious about performance. An executive car with 570 horses breathing under the hood? That makes it the most powerful Audi ever imported into North America, bumping even the V10-powered R8. Oh boy.
Although we never had a chance to take the RS7 out on the track, we experienced the car as it will actually be driven in the real world. Hell, we even took it to Ikea on an emergency trip to get a sofa bed for visiting holiday relatives. The RS7 not only fit our groceries, but with the back seats flipped down the hatchback design swallowed up 8–foot wood panels and enough boxes to pack a chest of drawers, sofa and requisite bag of Ikea tea candles. Even direct competitors like the AMG CLS63 and BMW M6 Gran Coupe — which aren’t fastbacks but ape a similar “four-door coupe” design — would leave their trunks gaping. Nevermind standard sedans like the 7-Series, S-Class, or even Audi’s own A8. Just ain’t gonna happen.
Now that’s real world functionality. And speaking of the real world, the RS7’s engine doesn’t need to redline to be thoroughly enjoyed. You don’t have to test its 0-60 time with your foot planted on the floor to appreciate its jet-like thrust (if you did, it would achieve the milestone in 3.4 seconds). You don’t have to challenge its stated 189 mph top speed. You can zoom along open highways at 90 mph and barely hit 2,500 rpms; tap your toe and the car launches into triple digits. There’s power everywhere on the band, as its supercar-level statline will suggest. That toe tap is accompanied by a tingling growl of the V8, slight whiplash and the reassuring pride of knowing there’s not another four-door on the 405 that wouldn’t be left choking on fumes should you feel the need to crush lesser men.
“Its fastback design is heart-stoppingly beautiful & yet laced with engineering that’s dead serious about performance…”
The view through the heavily raked windscreen, long hatchback and expansive sunroof combine for exceptional visibility, augmented by some of the largest sideview mirrors we’ve seen on a non-truck. Add standard appointments like a power tailgate, power sunroof, LED headlights, heated 12-way power seats, four-zone climate control, keyless entry, MMI navigation, Bose surroundsound (Bang & Olufson optional), Audi parking system with rearview camera and automatic retracting sideview mirrors (did we mention how huge they are?). Massive 21-inch 5-spoke wheels are stopped by 15.35-inch disc brakes. Carbon ceramics are optional.
Inside Audi does what it does best, crafting an opulent interior punctuated with just the right amount of performance cues. Ours had a stunning pin-stripe trim made of layered aluminum and dark oak that defined the dashboard. An 8-inch screen pops out like a tray and then flips up offering a sharp display. Eye-grabbing RS7 lights shine in the doorsills, and gorgeous diamond stitching on the seats is so pronounced you can feel the honeycombs through your bum and the baby skin on your lower back. The Valcona leather is so soft and supple, and the all-black interior so sharply stitched and assembled, it almost looks as if you were encased in a womb of the Dark Knight’s armor.
Audi knows its customer. The ultra exclusive RS line is not for everyone — the RS7 being only the second of the high performance variants currently available in the USA. There just aren’t many cars you’ll have to box an NHL player for, as its yearlong waitlist is evidence. But there are some for whom the RS7 would strike an ideal. One can see how it might be the perfect daily driver for the guy who has a Lamborghini under covers in his garage. Or maybe it’s for the dude who’s already had one and moved on. Maybe a fire-breathing roadster is no longer his style; he’s all grown up, means business — either in the form of taking out clients (and their golf clubs) to the greens, or trucking the kids (and their gear) to practice. But when he’s alone, hitting that one stretch of serene asphalt where he knows no cops lurk, and the world is still and quiet and under his submission, that’s when he’ll strum the RS7’s chords. Downshift the paddle, drop the pedal and run through the gears like a gliding speed skater. Because he knows it’ll give him a smile that will last all day — a stimulating heart pump more delicious than dark roast, more refined than Swiss chronograph movement and yet almost as naughty as a weekend getaway in Montreal. For if the RS7 is all business, then it definitely has some dirty secretary hidden in its DNA.