It was inevitable. With that poison cloud of CO2 we’re told is hovering above our heads (and conveniently lining the taxman’s pockets), there was no way that Audi’s Lambo-derived V10 would again find its way into another of the brand’s super saloons.
And this was a scary thought ahead of the introduction of the latest S6 and its sister S7. A downsize was entirely necessary, but to what extent? Another naturally aspirated 4.2 V8? An uptuned version of the S4’s supercharged V6? A spinach-fuelled hybrid?
Thank heavens no. For its latest line of ‘bahnstormers Audi’s jumped on the twin-turbo V8 bandwagon along with its two heavyweight German peers, and come up with an all-new force-fed 4-litre unit that’s already making waves in distant relative Bentley’s Continental GT range.
In the recently-launched S6, and S7 Sportback on test here, this new motor’s good for 309kW and 550Nm, but more importantly at a claimed average of 9.6 litres per 100km, it’s less thirsty than the previous V10. Happy polar bears. Unhappy taxmen.
But sorry for polar bears and the taxman, because there’s some major leeway in what’s claimed these days in terms of both power outputs and average drinkage. Not only are we suspicious of Audi’s quoted power spec, for reasons I’ll justify in a minute, but the big S7’s long-term trip computer readout said it was taking around 16.5 litres to do 100km. For the record that’s worse than what we averaged in the old V10, making Audi’s new efficiency claims seem mighty ambitious.
But there’s an interesting flipside to this story. On paper the S7 will race from 0-100km/h in 4.7 seconds. A quick time indeed. But according to our Vbox test equipment this is also a misquote because while in our hands this four-door sex-bomb bettered Audi’s claim with a time of 4.6. Equally impressive was its physics-defying quarter mile time of 12.8 seconds that puts it ahead of many much more powerful cars including a German rival whose name starts with “M” and ends with “5”.
All good news unless you’ve set up a homestead on an icecap. But forget a few measly extra grams of carbon pollutant. This type of car could be rated solely on how handily it jumps from highway onramps to the fast lane, and the S7 does this exceptionally well. Its 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox helps to hide trace amounts of turbo lag in first gear and then blips effortlessly up through the gears to highway annihilating cruising speed.
WHERE’S THE DRAMA?
Launches off the line see revs rise to a prime position on the tacho before all is dumped through the big car’s quattro all-wheel drive system. Other than an initial wallop of G-force, the discharge of power is surprisingly undramatic. The nose lifts, the tyres bite and all two tons slingshot casually toward the horizon. No smoke. No fireworks. No screaming babies.
I like the fact that Audi’s kept an old-school mechanical gear selector with actual detents downward from the park position. Newer electronic ones in other German cars can be a bit vague and indecisive when trying to get out of park and moving in a hurry.
That said I hate that there’s a new safety feature that kills the engine when the door’s opened, even when in park. It might not sound a big deal, but if you’re like me with a manually operated gate at home, it can become an aggravation. Not that many S7 owners will have manual gates ... but still.
Unlike most cars capable of thrust like this, the S7 is also remarkably discreet in terms of engine noise. It’s engineered this way however, with turbochargers naturally silencing exhaust systems; and on top of that there’s a new system called Active Noise Cancellation, or ANC (no jokes) that works similarly to expensive Bose headphones. Only when under long spells of full throttle can you hear the slightest of V8 murmurs inside the cabin, which can be quite nice during those express lane business meetings for four.
Unfortunately the muffled exhaust only highlights a bit too much road noise from the 19” rubber - a trait typical to many Audis with such low profile tyres. Luxury performance cars like this are forced to live with compromise, and if you’re going to dial-in sporty handling, fact is you have to dial-out some comfort. Even so I think the sexiness of the S7’s stance is a fair trade-off, and one I’d be willing to live with.
The A7, regardless of engine choice (there are three in our market), is a suave motorcar and the addition of an ‘S’ in its name takes nothing away from its debonair character.
It’s still as smooth as a billiard ball in butter, only now it has the capacity to tighten your necktie at every robot.Yours for R919 600.
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