Cape Town - Audi’s most powerful car carries a certain amount of road presence.
When the RS7 approached in their mirrors with its badass “Darth Vader” paint job and aggressive exhaust howl, even Cape Town drivers, who often display a certain resistance to keeping left on the freeway, moved out of the fast lane.
The paint job, which is actually called Daytona Grey Matte, is a R103 000 option available for the RS7, the new performance flagship of the A7 four-door coupé range. The rest of the aggro bodywork – including the black honeycomb grille, 21” wheels, and steriod-boosted bumpers – all come standard as part of the RS package.
RS styling treatment in the cabin includes a flat-bottomed leather steering wheel, aluminium pedals, carbon inlays, and artfully-styled RS sports seats. There are displays for boost pressure and oil temperature, as well as a lap timer.
Moving this raunchy RS car along is the most muscular engine currently offered by Audi. The 4-litre twin-turbo V8 churns out heady outputs of 412kW and 700Nm, giving it the claimed ability to dispatch the 0-100km/h sprint in just 3.9 seconds and reach a governed 250km/h (optionally 305km/h).
Cylinder-on-demand technology switches off half of the cylinders when they’re not needed to save fuel, giving the RS7 a factory-claimed (but probably highly unattainable) town/freeway fuel consumption average of 9.8 litres per 100km.
The epic power is fired to the low-profile tyres via quattro all-wheel drive and an eight-speed tiptronic transmission, and the car rides on adaptive air suspension that lowers the sleek, aggressive body by 20 millimetres.
The suspension hardness, along with throttle and steering responses, can be varied by the driver at the push of a button, and choosing the “Dynamic” setting also liberates an angrier rasp from the twin exhausts.
When I drove the RS7 on the media launch last week, a blast through the Cape’s famously twisty Franschoek Pass revealed the car to be a very accomplished direction-changer, with tenacious traction, very direct steering, and an athletic composure that made it feel a lot lighter than its 1.9 tons.
Early understeer is kept at bay by a rear-biased quattro system that varies power between the front and rear axles as needed, and the big ABS-assisted RS brakes showed little signs of fade after some hard punishment. But it’s the accelerative, foam-at-the-mouth fury that really grabs your attention, along with its ability to slingshot past long trucks in overtaking moves that keep you in the oncoming lane for the briefest of periods.
This is Ferrari-like performance packaged in a roomy and practical four-seater car with all the luxuries.
Audi’s answer to the BMW M6 Gran Coupé and the Mercedes CLS 63 AMG, the RS7 is yours for R1 450 500 and is sold with a five-year/100 000km Audi Freeway Plan.