ROAD TEST: Audi RS7 Sportback quattro
Johannesburg - Yoh, yoh, yoh. If you told me a few weeks ago that Audi’s recently-launched RS7 Sportback would become the quickest sedan this publication would yet test, I would have told you to book yourself a couch with your nearest shrink. But like the R200 I lost on Liverpool against Crystal Palace (I’d rather not talk about it), the universe seems to be shuffling things up a bit.
So yes, the RS7 simply rocked our Vbox’s socks when it ran a 3.8 second 0-100km/h sprint time. Not to mention the 11.9-second quarter-mile time, which indeed makes it the quickest car with four doors we’ve yet tested. To add some quarter-mile kings context, the RS7 went quicker than potent machinery like the Porsche Panamera Turbo S, Mercedes SLS coupé, CLS 63 and SL 65, BMW M5 with competition pack and M6 – the list goes on.
In terms of the Audi stable, the RS7 was an incredible four-tenths quicker across the quarter-mile than the super-duper R8 quattro Plus, which is powered by a V10 that makes 404kW and 540Nm.
And if you’re still not convinced, it’s worth mentioning that the RS7 is also the sixth quickest car this publication has ever tested, sitting only behind the McLaren 650S, McLaren MP4-12C, the Porsche 911 Turbo and Turbo S, and Nissan GT-R.
It makes a bit of sense when you consider that, for now, this is the most powerful four-door Audi on the planet, with outputs of 412kW and 700Nm churned from its 4-litre twin-turbo V8. But it’s simply the way this Audi puts that power down that makes it such a gladiator.
This car, unlike most of its rivals has no launch control – and I can’t help but wonder what the results would have been if it did. Where its S7 sibling runs a seven-speed S-tronic ‘box, which is Audi-speak for dual-clutch technology, the RS7 gets an eight-cog Tiptronic transmission, meaning it runs the old-school torque-converter set-up.
In terms of fuel consumption our test car averaged 13.8l/100km, which is far off the 9.8 claim – but let’s just say there wasn’t much time for the cylinder-on-demand technology – which rests four cylinders when not needed – to do its thing.
The Audi reels off these quick sprints time after time without any special effort aside from a bit of left-foot braking – versus the finicky launch control in cars like the M5, which require a doctorate to use and a rosary to get it to work consistently. And even with launch control and more power, the M5 with competition pack – boosting power to 423kW – was four-tenths slower over the quarter-mile than the RS7.
Matching all this go is plenty of show. It’s like Audi SA knew the anniversary of Star Wars (May the fourth be with you!) was coming up, and arranged a company car for Darth Vader. The R108 000 matte-grey paint job may sound like the ultimate indulgence on the options list, but it’s the most bad-ass paint job I’ve yet seen on anything we’ve tested. Sure, you may think twice about using your free car-wash voucher on it, but it’s a good match for the nature of the weapon it coats.
Other warning signs that this ain’t your average A7 include the aggro bumpers and black honeycomb grille, air dams that could swallow your domestic cat whole, 21-inch wheels, rear diffuser, and two drain pipes on either corner of the rear bumper.
And even though it’s force fed, there’s a nice little growl going on here, which flows through the cabin when you drive it like you stole it.
The RS7 also has the ability to manage all its anger. Hook the air suspension into Comfort and keep the gearbox away from Sport, and you’ll find yourself at under two-thou in eighth with Classic FM twinkling through the eighty-grand Bang and Olufsen sound system. Even the low-profile rubber on Jozi’s scarred roads didn’t manage to gatecrash this slice of serenity.
And then there’s the handling. As you know, all RS cars are benefactors of Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive set-up, meaning traction is never too much of an issue with these cars.
Throw in a flat-bottomed steering with good feel and sharp feedback, the Dynamic driver mode which hardens and hastens accordingly, rear-biased quattro power, brakes which never fade, and an exhaust which gets raspier in the spicier settings, and you’re well sorted.
Direct rivals to Audi’s four-door RS7 Sportback include Merc’s CLS 63 AMG, Beemer’s M6 Gran Coupé and Porsche’s Panamera Turbo S. This is quite a special club and these are all special cars in their own right. The new RS7 is a worthy addition, and has proven the quickest in a straight line.
We’d happily have one in our garage. -Star Motoring
Audi RS7 Sportback quattro
Engine: 4-litre, V8 turbopetrol
Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic
Power: 412kW @ 5700 - 6600rpm
Torque: 700Nm @ 1750 - 5500rpm
0-100km/h (claimed): 3.8 seconds
Top speed (claimed): 250km/h (305km/h optional)
Consumption (claimed): 9.8 litres per 100km
Price: R1 501 500
Warranty: One-year/unlimited km
Maintenance Plan: Five-year/100 000km
BMW M6 Gran Coupé (412kW/680Nm) - R1 657 491
Jaguar XFR-S (405kW/680Nm) - R1 308 390
Mercedes CLS 63 AMG (410kW/720Nm) - R1 412 089
Porsche Panamera Turbo S (419kW/800Nm) - R2 591 000