Saying the 2014 Audi RS7 Sportback is not as good as the not-for-North-America Audi RS6 Avant we recently tested is a bit like saying one more strip of crispy bacon would make our Waffle House All-Star Special breakfast even more special. The RS7 goes to ten while the RS6 goes to eleven, maybe, but they both rock our world. The RS7 is meant for the far wider buying audience worldwide, not just for western European family bombing runs, as with the RS6 Avant.
But, hey, this RS7 simply hurtles down the road in a singularly sexy way. And if you really want this bodystyle – and who could blame you? – the RS6 Avant doesn't really even matter anyway. After a full day on perfect dry and warm Swabian two-lanes driving this Audi very hard, we barely thought about it at all.
The RS7's bi-turbo 4.0-liter V8 pushes out 553 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque from 1,750 to 5,500 rpm. Dubbed EA824 (should the question ever come up in Trivial Pursuit), it's an asphalt junkie. This same motor, and its high 10:1 compression ratio, knocked us flat in the RS6 Avant with its intoxicating RS sport exhaust, and it kills us softly here. To get the full breadth of the RS7 experience, we tried a relatively base-trim example (the blue one in our photo gallery) on standard Yokohama 20-inchers, then we switched to a fully optioned RS7 with Dynamic Package Plus, 21-inch Pirelli P Zero treads and that witchy RS sport exhaust (the white car in our Short Cut video). They are both so good that we had trouble choosing a preference, but the non-Dynamic Plus version should be the choice for those seeking a daily driver. Just remember to at least add the RS exhaust, okay?
MSRP remains unannounced for the United States, but if it follows the price difference in Germany between the S7 and RS7, it will mean a 40-percent hike to get all this fun and frolic in your driveway. The base S7 sits at $78,800, so we see the RS7 starting at a pretty exciting $105,000. Deliveries begin in Europe as of mid-November, while US and Canada units get handed over to owners by mid-February of 2014.
Audi estimates the RS7 thunders to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds in Dynamic mode. We think it'll do at least a repeatable 3.5, so we don't know who they think they're fooling in Neckarsulm. The Sportback does weigh a tick less than the Avant, too, and it has aerodynamic advantages, so it could actually be a bit quicker when drag-racing trim-for-trim. Yet the RS7 is slightly more collected about the drama going on, even if it weighs in at a not-insignificant 4,200 pounds or so.
RS7 thunders to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds in Dynamic mode.
The only bit that's numbing about the whole RS7 experience is its electric power steering, but that whole discourse bores us to death at this point, as it's true of most any Quattro chassis (not all Audis can be of R8 V10 Plus caliber). Here we have a well-balanced 40:60 default torque split on a large and portly car with a weight distribution fore:aft of 56:44. What can you really expect? It seems as if we've learned to live with these sorts of Audi dynamic preferences, so while tasty options like the rear sport differential from the Dynamic Package can be very useful under hard driving, frankly it will rarely really help an everyday RS7 driver. (We'd still get it, though.) And the steering - for an electric setup – is at least smooth, well weighted and predictable – especially as we had the most aggressive optional Dynamic Steering aboard. Everything is naturally assisted by the eight-tenths of an inch lower stance from either the standard air suspension or optional steel-sprung sport setup.
Europeans have the base 155-mph RS7 trim of our blue car, but the optional Dynamic Package lets top speed out to 174 mph (along with other enhancements). In addition, Europeans can specify a further Dynamic Package Plus with 190-mph v-max and ceramic brake discs, but in North America, there will be no Plus option. And initially there will be no optional ceramic brake discs available at all for North America, though Audi tells us they could come over by the end of 2014. The standard compound wave design brake discs stop things just fine all day, but sometimes the pedal feel is less 'there' for us than we'd like for something with this much momentum. The ceramic discs we tried on the Plus-equipped white car were amazing at hauling in this heavy Audi, but they would probably command a further $8,500 or so.
The steering – for an electric setup – is at least smooth, well weighted and predictable.
The two key engineered-in differences between the RS6 Avant and this RS7 Sportback are, first, a standard exhaust note the pulls back just a few decibels from that of the stock RS6. Then the optional RS sport exhaust – supplied by Faurecia, angels bless 'em – also drops a few decibels throughout its range. The second difference is with the tires, which on the RS7 are always 275-width, while on the RS6 Avant they are 285. Besides these subtle touches that chip away at the model's flagrant aggression, the cabin isolation is enhanced in the RS7 to bring a greater sense of civility.
Playing with gears of the eight-speed Tiptronic reveals that the Volkswagen Group has done a fine job tuning this ZF transmission. Through its various drive modes – Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, Individual – this cogswapper with its seventh- and eighth-gear overdrive is sophisticatedly smooth and ready. Even though it's a conventional paddleshift automatic, compared to Mercedes-Benz and its current batch of 7G transmissions, this unit stands up well to our expectations of an RS-style ride, even during most (though not all) downshift moments on challenging roads. Curiously, the less-powerful S7 gets a bona-fide dual-clutch gearbox, though it's down a cog on the RS7's unit.
Through its various drive modes, this cogswapper is sophisticatedly smooth.
In the optional 174-mph optional Dynamic Package, Americans are due to get blackened carbon-effect exterior trim, full LED lighting, sport rear locking differential, sport suspension with denser steel springs and dynamic steering. We had all of this on our white RS7 used in the video (called Suzuka Gray metallic, go figure) and, with the 21-inch optional blackened Blade wheels and ZR-rated Pirellis, the German countryside whizzed by quickly and deftly. The larger RS Audis are like that: built like brick houses. There is always going to be some understeer at the front end while scorching the curves and perhaps miscalculating approach angles and throttle inputs, but the RS7 is far beyond what Audi's RS models were capable of just five years ago. Standard torque vectoring when combined with the optional Dynamic Ride Control package pretty much maximizes what this chassis is capable of.
Who knows if we ever ticked over to the fuel-saving V4 mode of the cylinder-on-demand engineering? Who really cares? Our experience, as other like-equipped VW Group models is that you don't really notice it, and the company doesn't even show you whether you're in it or not. Our fuel needle didn't fall precipitously much over our long drive loops, so the unofficially projected 20-mpg combined city/highway efficiency could well be true.
The larger RS Audis are like that: built like brick houses.
At any rate, and with any amount of excitement-generating gasoline, we now have no doubt that the RS7 is just the car to get us and our kin quickly to Waffle House for a little down-home refueling.