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FRANKFURT — The second-generation Audi RS 7 Sportback made its debut online ahead of its public unveiling at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show. It continues to deliver the style, the handling, and the power of the original model, while filling some of its gaps in the practicality department.

The fourth-generation RS 6 Avant (which Audi confirmed will be available in the United States) and the latest RS 7 share more than front-end parts. Both are equipped with the same twin-turbocharged, 4.0-liter V8 engine tuned to deliver 600 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. The latter figure is available from 2,100 all the way to 4,500 rpm, so it's there whenever the driver needs it. The eight's output reaches the four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission linked to steering wheel-mounted shift paddles, and Audi's famed Quattro all-wheel drive system.

The sprint from zero to 62 mph takes 3.6 seconds thanks in part to a launch control function, and the speed limiter kicks in when the digital speedometer displays 155 mph. Upgraded brakes, speed-sensitive steering, and a standard air suspension keep the power in check. The list of options includes carbon ceramic brakes that weigh 75 pounds less than the standard steel setup, four-wheel steering, and a sportier suspension profile.

The twin turbos tell only part of the V8's story. Engineers also added a 48-volt, belt-driven alternator-starter that recuperates the energy generated while braking. The mild hybrid system improves fuel economy, and lowers emissions, though concrete figures remain under wraps. Looking ahead, Audi Sport plans to roll out electrification across most of its range of high-performance models. Julius Seebach, one of the company's co-directors, called electrification the foundation of its future.

Seebach added that he had instructed his team to listen to the feedback delivered by owners of the original RS 7. They unanimously asked for a more practical car, so the fastback is available as a five-seater with a three-person bench seat. Those who liked the four-seater configuration can still order it, however. And owners said they wanted a car that looks as quick as it is, so stylists removed all of the chrome bits, and tucked 21-inch wheels under flared fenders to create a meaner look. Two oval exhaust tips integrated into a massive air diffuser add a finishing touch to the design. 

The second-generation Audi RS 7 Sportback will arrive in showrooms in 2020. Pricing information hasn't been announced yet, and we likely won't find out how much it costs until the weeks leading up to its on-sale date, but expect it to arrive with a six-digit price tag.


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