Can a Sports Car Be a Luxury Car? Audi’s RS7 Attempts to Be the Best of Both Worlds
When it comes to the pinnacle of luxury cars, the traditional upgrade path should lead buyers to stalwarts like the Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7 Series or the Audi A8. Of late, there may be a significant shift in the buyer's paradigm. One explanation is the buyer is getting younger, and they feel that traditional luxury saloons may not necessarily have the same appeal as they once did.
Within Audi's stables, the next model down from the flagship Audi A8 is the A7 which attracts a younger buyer and in that range, the top model is the Audi RS7. It is a beast of a car, at least on paper, with 600 hp from a twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 mild-hybrid engine driving all four wheels. Despite its considerable size and heft, the RS7 is startlingly quick, reaching 100 km/h in a scant 3.6 seconds putting it in supercar territory. It will even reach 305 km/h with the optional Driver's Package.
For all its raw performance, the RS7 is surprisingly comfortable, perhaps not as cushy as the basic A7 but certainly comfortable enough for daily chores considering it rolls on huge 22-inch wheels and with some of the widest and flattest low profile tyres around. This is thanks to the sophisticated adaptive air-suspension that has given the RS7 remarkable cruising ability as well as a reasonably plush ride.
Selecting a more aggressive drive mode like dynamic or RS mode will lower and stiffen the suspension with the attendant reduction in comfort but not to the extent where you will wince. It might not be welcomed by the passengers, but if one is alone with a nice road to carve up, it does give the RS7 a far more purposeful bent. And like icing on the cake, the steering has well-judged weight with just a hint of feel that keeps the driver engaged. This is a pleasant surprise in the era of electric power steering, which has robbed most early systems of any feel and small gains are being seen in the latest systems.
The RS7 is a large and handsome car with a length of over five metres, yet it has a small turning circle that would rival a family hatchback. This is due to the dynamic all-wheel steering system that at car park speeds, steers the rear wheels such that it reduces the minimum turning circle by one metre compared to not having this system. While this system improves agility at low speeds, agility is not really welcome at high speeds so the system steers the rear wheels to enhance stability. It is very subtle in the way it is implemented, not feeling artificial in any way.
Just as surprising is its frugality. Over a distance of 100 km, it consumes just 11.6 litres of petrol which is surprising for something with 600 hp, weighing two tonnes and offers near supercar performance. Audi has equipped their performance cars with a 48V mild-hybrid system. It ensures smooth running of the start-stop system and with the recuperated energy from braking, gives the car the ability to coast with the engine off, starting up instantly when needed, saving 0.8L every 100 km. Also helping fuel economy is the Cylinder on Demand system (Cylinder deactivation) that allows only one bank of four cylinders to run when demand for power is light.
The Audi RS7 is a very clever package. The styling works because it looks so sleek, yet it is a large well-equipped luxury executive sedan. For all its performance potential, it is not constantly straining at the leash which can be tiring, always behaving in a docile manner in town, yet it will blast away during overtaking as if being shot out of a canon. Given that the RS7 is so big, it is surprisingly agile and manoeuvrable in tight spaces, though its actual girth needs constant circumspect. And finally, for all its sharp, sporty handling, it provides comfort at a level that is not too far removed from a luxury sedan.
Certainly, there is much more fun to be had for the enthusiast driver in the RS7 compared to the A8 but there is a hefty premium to be paid as this RS7 will leave you with little spare change from $600,000, especially if you keep checking away at the options list. It is not a traditional choice, but way more interesting.
Price from: $588,000 without options/COE
Engine: 4.0-litre, Twin-Turbo V8, mild Hybrid
Transmission: 7-Speed Tiptronic
Power: 600 hp at rpm
Torque: 800 Nm at 2050 to 4500 rpm
0-100 km/h: 3.6 seconds
Top Speed: over 305 km/h
Fuel Consumption: 11.6 L/100 km (WLTP)
Agent: Premium Automobiles Pte Ltd.