If a standard-issue Audi doesn’t satiate your motoring desires the company will happily sell you an S variant of certain vehicles. But if the elevated sportiness and driver involvement they offer still leaves you hankering for more, the German firm offers special RS versions of some models for hard-core enthusiasts.
|Engine: Twin-turbocharged 4.0L V8 makes 560 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque.
Transmission: Eight-speed Tiptronic automatic only.
Fuel Economy: 16 MPG city, 27 highway or 19 MPG on average.
Pricing: The RS 7 kicks off at $107,395 but the car we evaluated stickered for $117,885.
Shorthand for “Rennsport” (“Racing Sport” in German), these cars deliver smashing performance and luxury-laden interiors all wrapped in the subtle good looks this brand is known for.
In America there are currently three RS-isified products available including the RS 5, RS 5 Cabriolet and RS 7 five-door coupe. An RS-version of the TT two-door was recently discontinued.
Not surprisingly European drivers have many more choices on Audi’s RS menu. They can get magnum-caliber firepower in models like the A4 Avant, Q3 small crossover and even the A6 wagon. Of course with this review we’re focusing on the most powerful RS-offering in America, the lust-worthy RS 7.
Stop and Stare
Design is a major part of this vehicle. The curving roofline, podded side-view mirrors and mesh grille inserts give it a classy yet aggressive appearance. The car is graceful and purposeful but also classy and stern at the same time.
Add it up and the RS 7 has the look of a truly premium product. If this car were a woman she’d be on a catwalk in Milan, but instead of doing yoga to stay fit she’d go cage fighting a few times each month; she also might be a secret agent on weekends.
Given its somewhat stealthy appearance it was surprising that this machine garnered as much attention as it did. Pedestrians and motorists alike turned their heads and watched as it went by, snapping camera-phone pictures when possible.
Welcome to the Family
The RS 7 is all new in the United States for 2014. It debuted at the North American International Auto Show last year, but there’s a lot more to the A7 family than just this car.
As a five-door coupe the line competes with vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class and BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe. This Teutonic trio prioritizes fashion over function but we don’t mind; they’re all eye catching in their own unique ways.
In addition to the ultra-high-performance RS 7 there’s a version of this car for practically every sort of customer. There’s a base model with a supercharged V6, an efficient and torque-rich TDI clean diesel and of course a sporty S7 as well.
Interestingly the A7 3.0T and TDI models both seat five passengers, but further emphasizing their sporty character, the S7 and RS 7 cars can only accommodate four people. That’s fine; no one’s ever comfortable in the center rear seat anyway.
A number of telltale elements set the RS apart from its lesser siblings. It comes dressed with distinctive bumpers, large oval exhaust tips, a unique diffuser and an adaptive rear spoiler.
Power to the People! (or at Least Those Riding in an RS 7)
But don’t make the mistake of thinking the Audi RS 7 is merely a pretty face, because there’s much more to this car than sex appeal. Every one of them is motivated by a rumbling 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine. With all the latest power-enhancing goodies this internal-combustion masterpiece delivers a walloping one-two punch of 560 Clydesdale horses along with 516 lb-ft of torque.
All that power is routed through an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission before making its way to Audi’s celebrated – and class-leading – quattro all-wheel-drive system. Thanks to all of this world-class engineering the RS 7 can romp from zero to 60 miles an hour in just 3.7 seconds!!! Not bad for a car that weighs 4,475 lbs.
Clearly that’s an irresponsible amount of performance. To brandish that much acceleration is reckless and foolhardy. It’s tantamount to deliberately running red lights just to feel the rush of NOT crashing; it’s more negligent than getting preschoolers hooked on nicotine.
But not so fast, the RS 7 may be rashly fleet but it doesn’t necessarily create a gigantic hole in the ozone layer everywhere it goes; the car is actually pretty efficient. In city driving it stickers at 16 miles per gallon, but that figure grows to 27 when you take it out on the highway. Combined the car ought to average 19 MPG.
Turbocharging, direct injection and relatively modest displacement are a handful of this Audi’s efficiency-bolstering features, but not all. The RS 7 also brandished cylinder deactivation. Its shuts down four of the engine’s pots when maximum firepower is not required. This supposedly cuts consumption by up to 15 percent.
Other automakers offer cylinder deactivation, notably GM and Chrysler with some of their V8 engines. In both instances the technology is practically seamless, but at times you can still tell when half the cylinders aren’t working; it’s a subtle difference but anyone that’s really in-sync with their car or truck will notice it.
Unlike its competitors, Audi’s implementation is completely, totally, utterly FAULTLESS. There are absolutely no giveaways that the engine is running in four-cylinder mode. In fact I wasn’t even aware that it had this technology until I read the press release. Active engine mounts probably play a big role in quelling uncouth vibration.
Like every Audi the RS 7’s interior is simply beautiful; it’s tasteful, elegant and superbly executed. There’s a reason this brand is the benchmark for cabin quality.
Radiant carbon fiber trim graces the dashboard, doors and center console. It’s rich looking with more depth than the Marians Trench.
Adding some visual pizzazz, the seats are embellished with unique contrast-stitching. Depending on your opinion it either looks sharp or resembles chicken wire.
The RS 7’s cargo space is surprisingly generous. It’s wide and quite long with an oversized hatch, which gives you unobstructed access to the trunk.
Naturally this car features the latest version of MMI, Audi’s infotainment technology. With a centrally mounted control knob and a series of buttons flanking it the system is easy to use with little training. It’s augmented with a multipurpose touchpad that gives you quick access to your favorite radio presets and can even be used to spell out destinations in the navigation system by drawing each letter with a finger.
Drop her in drive and the RS 7 just flies. If this car had radiation shielding and life-support systems it’s probably powerful enough to take astronauts to Mars. But curiously it doesn’t feel as quick as its 3.7-second zero-to-60 time suggests. I DO NOT doubt Audi’s acceleration claim, but the RS 7 is just so silky smooth and refined that its speed is deceptive. Hit the accelerator and suddenly you’re doing 80 miles an hour in a school zone; triple-digit speeds feel like 40 in other cars.
Of course the RS 7 stops and steers as nicely as it looks. This beast is a pleasure to pilot, though it does feel quite large.
The RS 7’s ride is firm but not abrupt, it’s also adjustable through Audi’s Drive Select system, a technology that allows you to customize various aspects of the vehicle, from throttle response to how the steering feels. In “dynamic,” the sportiest setting, bumps seem to present themselves as large amplitude, low frequency events, almost like the car is hopping over surface imperfections. Comfort mode smoothes things out considerably.
But what’s even more impressive than all of this is that after a few days of vigorous driving I averaged about 21 miles per gallon. That’s a huge figure for such a fleet automobile and better than its average MPG.
Dollars and Nonsense
Optional and so-light-it’s-almost-white Suzuka Gray Metallic paint added a mere $500 to that total. The driver assistance package, which includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and more, inflated the price by $2,800. The RS 7 dynamic package cost $5,500; the media cable package $295; and the Audi-branded first-aid kit was a steal at just $45.
The Audi RS 7 is a compelling luxury car. It’s got more style than your typical high-end sedan yet it sacrifices very little when it comes to functionality.
The back seat could be a little larger and the price a good bit smaller but other than these minor complaints this car is a force to be reckoned with. It drives extremely well and accelerates like a bolt of lightning. Throw distinctive looks into the equation and you have a winner. The 2014 Audi RS 7 is extremely desirable and absolutely lives up to its “racing sport” name.