ALICE in Wonderland was tempted by the labels ‘drink me’ and ‘eat me’, being transformed by taking up each invitation. I’m sure Lewis Carroll’s heroine would also have succumbed to the allure of the Audi RS 7 Sportback, but it needs no label to say, ‘drive me’.
Shortly before my week in this mega incarnation of the A7 Sportback, I spoke to two fellow motoring writers, both journalists of long experience who have slipped behind the wheel of many an impressive motor.
Each confided, unprompted, that this is a car they would really like to own. Like them (and like Alice, no doubt, had she been around) I was soon under the spell of an executive express like no other. The following figures will help to tell you why: 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 189mph (governed to 155mph).
Awesome doesn’t quite do it justice.
I can take or leave the under-the-bonnet bits of most cars, but the beating heart of the RS 7 deserves its moment in the spotlight. The 4.0-litre V8 TFSI petrol engine has two large twin-scroll turbochargers, helping it to its formidable peak power of 560bhp, which arrives between 5,700 and 6,700 rpm.
Those turbos, nestling, along with the intercooler, inside the ‘V’ of the cylinder banks, help generate incredible accelerative force.
The engine’s dramatic response is delivered with all the charisma expected of a V8 and the exhaust system can be tuned to make the delicious sound even fuller at the touch of a button. Add eight-speed tiptronic transmission, quattro all-wheel-drive with sport differential, and you have a mighty package of biddable power.
And a gentler side, with cylinder-on-demand technology to aid economy, cutting out four of the cylinders at tootling speeds. The switch between four and eight-cylinder operation takes just a few hundredths of a second, and the only real indication that it is taking place is a visual signal within the instrument cluster.
There’s also an engine start-stop system and innovative thermal management technology which all contribute to 28.8mpg, combined (manufacturer’s figure).
The transmission features shortened shift times and offers ‘sport’ and ‘manual’ modes in addition to the standard ‘drive’ setting. For manual shifts, drivers can use the paddles on the steering wheel or the selector lever. The lower gears of the tiptronic are tightly spaced for optimum performance, while a tall eighth gear reduces fuel consumption.
The technology-fest continues, with an adaptive dynamics system, which enables the driver to choose between ‘comfort’ or ‘dynamic’ modes, or an automatic mode in which sensors adjust the settings based on driving style, speed and prevailing conditions. The RS 7 is also pinned more securely to the road by an electrically-extending rear spoiler providing additional downforce.
All these bells and whistles come wrapped in a body embellished with RS-specific design details, used subtly so as not to detract from elegantly tapering lines. Most noticeable are the matt titanium applications, the high gloss black honeycomb radiator grille, exclusive bumper design and, at the rear, a diffuser and two large, elliptical exhaust tailpipes.
The interior conveys the sporting theme with similar subtlety, but leaves passengers in no doubt that they are travelling in an Audi flagship.
RS logos appear in the dials with their black backgrounds, white dials and red needles, on the flat-bottomed three-spoke multifunction steering wheel, in the illuminated entry sills, in the rev counter and in dash displays.
They are also punched into the front RS super sports seats with their pronounced bolsters, integrated head rests and honeycomb-quilted leather upholstery. The two-seat rear bench has pronounced contours for optimum grip.
A new feature in the RS menu is the shift light. Green segments are illuminated as revs increase, the bar turning red and beginning to blink when revs approach the red line.
Options on Flush Magazine’s test car included such features as power door closure, parking system with corner view camera, 21in alloys, hands-free boot opening system and a £6,300 (gulp!) sound system.
This phenomenal vehicle is at ease in town but offering searing performance (if you have an autobahn to hand). The word thoroughbred springs to mind for the RS 7, a car apart in terms of driving experience. I’ve savoured the R8 supercar, but have to say I enjoyed this motor just as much.
Like my colleagues, I would agree it’s a real ‘I want one’ car. As I said, no label needed.
MAKE/MODEL: Audi RS 7 4.0 TFSI Quattro tiptronic.
TECHNICAL: 3993cc bi-turbo V8 cylinder-on-demand petrol engine with eight-speed tiptronic transmission.
PERFORMANCE: 0-62mph, 3.9 seconds; top speed, 155mph (governed) 174mph (governed), 189mph.
FUEL: 28.8mpg (combined)
PRICE: £82,010. As driven: (inc options) £115,405
For more info visit www.audi.co.uk