The Audi RS7 Sportback.
The Audi RS7 Sportback.

2014 Audi RS7 road test review reveals hidden powerhouse

THROUGHOUT the test week we enjoyed playing the price tag game.

There were some fine educated guesses at the bottom line for the sleek Audi RS7 Sportback.

Most started in the mid $100,000 realm. One was at $200,000.

Yet no one got close to the $238,500 asking price.

But that is part of the appeal of the RS7. This is a bit like putting a potato sack and a paper bag on Miranda Kerr or David Beckham…sure the silhouette would still look good, but you have no idea of the beauty within.

Comfort

Five-star luxury awaits.

There is no need to shoehorn yourself into figure-hugging pews, rather slide your behind into Valcona leather-clad seats complete with honeycomb stitching.

A flat-bottom sports steering wheel along with carbon-look inserts add to the sporting persona.

It's hard not to like any modern Audi interior…about our only issue across the range is the counter-clockwise operation of the primary controller dial on the console. Once you get used to that, and the four key buttons positioned around the dial, it's an intuitive and quick system to master.

With a spacious cabin, four adults can be accommodated and those in the back pews have reasonable head and leg room.

On the road

The 4.2-litre V8 plays a beautifully throaty tune, although it's only in "dynamic" mode that it really hits some high notes.

Shunt the shifter into "sport" for manual mode, punch the accelerator and you quickly embrace the wonders of the headrest. Luckily it's well padded because the power surge can be savage.

For this is a supercar within the skin of an enlarged hatchback, which can be forgotten as you meander around town.

Skulking around the streets in comfort mode, the RS7 masquerades beautifully as a standard high-end ride. But work the throttle hard and it can be brutal.

Producing 412kW and 700Nm, the mighty 4.0 TFSI twin-turbo V8 engine features the exhaust and turbochargers sitting inside the 'vee', with the intakes plumbed to the outside of the engine. For the engineering aficionados that defies all conventional logic…but it works, and it works supremely well.

The RS7 has multiple personalities, which you can control by using the Audi central computer system. Hit the "car" button and you can select from four options, our favourites being comfort and dynamic.

There are discernable differences courtesy of air suspension, with comfort cushioning the ride and magically ironing out the lumps.

Yet when it's time for action, call on dynamic. Noticeably firm and taut, it abandons any marshmallowitis, quickens the throttle response, throws the eight-speed automatic transmission into sport mode and even sounds angry. When you punch the right pedal the V8 growls and there are awesome exhaust pops when changing cogs and lifting off. It's sensational.

That stiffened chassis and all-wheel drive makes cornering outstanding with direct steering offering ample feedback for the keen driver.

What do you get?

Living up to expectations, the RS7 comes with some pretty cool kit on the specification list.

There's the givens, like dual zone air-con, sunroof, head-up display that projects your speed and sat nav and other information on to the windscreen and massive 21-inch five-spoke alloys, but you also get digital TV reception and radio, a sports exhaust and differential, along with LED headlights and air suspension.

Although even after you have shelled out nearly $240k, there are still some alluring option packs. There are a couple of dynamic performance packs to make the RS7 go even quicker, including one for $25,840 which adds ceramic brakes, RS suspension, dynamic steering and ups the top speed to 305kmh. We liked the $8500 styling grouping which throws together some contempoary use of carbon, like the front air intake, door mirrors and rear diffuser.

Running costs

Fuel consumption is rated at an official average of less than 10 litres per 100km, although with a less than conscientious approach to the accelerator our test car was closer to 12. Still, that's pretty good for a four-door that can mix it with the some of the best from Porsche, Ferrari and Lamborghini.

Given the price tag owners won't be bothered by the hefty replacement cost of the low-profile rubber, which would be in the vicinity of $1000 a corner. Insurance too is expected to be at the higher end of the scale.

Practicality

Common sense is not a traditionally strong realm for cars that can sprint from 0-100km in less than four seconds. Yet the RS7 is has family leanings. Accessing the child seat anchorage points on the back parcel shelf is easy, while the boot space can easily swallow the weekly grocery shop.

Funky factor

This is like driving a supercar under a cloak of secrecy. Refined good looks are savvy and not showy.

With the gigantic 21-inch five-spoke alloys, steeply tapered roofline and sculpted body skirts, this is distinguished athleticism.

Lowdown

When considering a supercar, how many buyers really want the show more than the go? Most want a hefty degree of bravado, letting other road goers know there is something special under the bonnet. But that is part of the appeal for the Audi RS7. Not all people with coin and a penchant for fast cars want to shout about their credentials.

We've been fortunate to drive some pretty flash offerings this year, including the Jaguar F-Type, Nissan GT-R, Mercedes-Benz S-Class...but the RS7 reigned supreme.

The RS7 is a wonderfully easy car to live with. It's a friend to the family, a luxurious cruiser and it can hold its own at the race track.

What matters most

What we liked: Symphonic tune pumped out the exhaust, four-adult accommodation, supercar keeping a low profile.

What we'd like to see: Lane assist and radar cruise control should be standard, as should be the carbon styling pack.

Warranty and servicing: Three-year unlimited kilometre warranty, servicing is annual or every 15,000km.

VITAL STATISTICS

Model: Audi RS7 Sportback.

Details: Five-door four-seat all-wheel drive performance sportback.

Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 generating maximum power of 412kW @ 5700-6600rpm and peak torque of 700Nm @1750-5500rpm.

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic.

Consumption: 9.8 litres/100km (combined average).

CO2: 229g/km.

Performance: 0-100kmh in 3.9 seconds. Top speed 305kmh (with the Dynamic Package Plus).

Bottom line: $238,500.


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