Prodigious power doesn’t necessarily bring driver satisfaction
Engine: 4.0 litres, 8 cylinders, turbocharged
Power: 553bhp @ 5700rpm
Torque: 516lb ft @ 1750rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto, four-wheel drive
Top speed: 155mph
It is a well known maxim that Audi has never struggled to produce cars to appeal to the fashion conscious. But when it comes to making cars for those interested in the far simpler, less fickle business of driving, its products – mid-engined R8 aside – have been far less assured.
But surely that list of great Audis for drivers must now include this RS7? After all, at £83,495 it is now the most expensive Audi you can buy this side of an R8. On paper it’s all there, including a version of Audi’s 4-litre twin-turbo V8 motor far more powerful than any variants of the same engine now utilised by Bentley. With a chassis tuned by the same people who did such sterling work on the R8, what could possibly go wrong?
Everything and nothing. The RS7 Sportback is a very fast, capable car that would doubtless prove an exceptionally easy accomplice day to day, so long as you didn’t spent too much time spotting fuel bills on your bank statement. The interior is entirely predictable, inasmuch as it looks likes Audi’s architecture dolled up for a big night out, but it works well enough for someone who’s only ever driven an A3 to feel right at home almost immediately.
The engine is excellent: its response to your right foot is not only immense but as immediate as you could expect any engine breathing through turbochargers to be. But as a thing to drive, it still left me cold. The days of truly incompetent Audi handling are mercifully gone, but there remains much work to be done before many are actively engaging to drive. There’s huge grip but little balance, accurate steering but zero feel. If you wanted a big fast Audi, why not save yourself a few thousand, buy an RS6 Avant powered by the same engine and provide all the room in the world for your family and luggage?