2014 Audi RS7 Review – The RS7 shares its twin-turbo four.0-liter V-8 with the one-rung-down S7, where the engine kicks out a still-impressive 420 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. To arrive at RS7 output, however, add 100 to each figureâ��and then some. Maximum horsepower is 553 at 5700 rpm, and the max torque figure of 516 lb-ft is available on a long plateau stretching from 1750 to 5500 rpm. (The RS7â��s engine is also available in the lustworthy, not-for-the-U.S. RS6 Avant.)
Audi claims a 0-to-60-mph time of under seconds, but they figure a time in the mid-threes is possible; they recorded a three.7-second blast from the S7â��s S6 twin in a recent comparison check. In Europe, the RS7â��s top speed is ruled at 155 mph, 174 mph, or 190 mph, depending on the choice package chosen. Unrestricted, weâ��re told the RS7 could sniff 200 mph, although the ten additional mph would require walking high tire pressures, which would degrade available grip. In any event, 190 mph is plenty, and the RS7 gets there in a rush.
The RS7 applies the full hot-rod treatment to Audi’s A7 Sportback—the slinky five-door that arrived near the front edge of the sedan-as-coupe wave and added hatchback utility. With about 552 brake hp, the 2014 RS7 also happens to be the most powerful Audi yet offered in North America.
Like other RS products, the RS7 is pulled from the A7 line and hand-finished in Neckarsulm, Germany, by quattro GmbH—the VW Group subsidiary that is to Audi as AMG is to Mercedes-Benz. The RS7 is an anniversary car of sorts, marking 30 years since quattro GmbH was established to develop the original Audi Quattro coupe for World Rally competition and Pikes Peak. It applies three tenets that are guiding quattro toward better efficiency, according to CEO Frank van Meel: less weight, less displacement and Audi’s cylinder on demand technology.
The RS7’s 4.0-liter V8 starts with the same block as the S7 and various A8 sedans. Van Meel says it’s the most compact turbocharged V8 in a production car, measuring just 19.5 inches from the 90-degree V’s front to the rear. The intake side of the cylinder heads is on the outside, the exhaust on the inside, and the two turbos are tucked in the rear of the valley. Peak boost increases to 17.5 psi, compared to 12.3 psi in the S7 engine, and peak output increases accordingly: 552 bhp (SAE rating pending) and 516 lb-ft of torque, from 420 and 406 in the S7.
In the name of efficiency, the RS7 engine is equipped with both a stop/start feature and cylinder on demand. Audi’s works like other variable displacement systems, closing valves on cylinders 2, 3, 5, and 8 and shutting off fuel when rpm remain below 3,500 and torque demand below 185 lb-ft. At a steady 62 mph, cylinder on demand reduces fuel consumption 10 percent, according to Audi, and should improve EPA ratings 5 percent. The RS7 will carry no gas guzzler tax in the United States. It gets the same eight-speed, torque-convertor automatic used in the A8, with expanded cooling capacity and different gear ratios. The lower gears are spaced closely for immediate response, and eighth is way overdrive at .667.
The all-wheel drive starts at a new center differential with a higher locking rate than those in other large Audis. The default torque split is 40 percent front, 60 rear, though the diff can direct as much as 70 percent of the power to the front wheels and 85 percent to the rear. A torque-vectoring control strategy uses the brakes to manage power at each wheel, while the rear differential actively distributes torque between the rear wheels. In a curve, for example, it will power up the outside rear wheel to help vector the RS7 through.
The RS7 is built from the same steel/aluminum unit body as other A7s, but lighter components lower curb weight 33 pounds compared to the S7. It generates 30 pounds more aerodynamic downforce in front thanks to a more prominent lip below the front bumper and positive downforce (as opposed to lift) in back—largely a function of reworked underbody shields.
The standard air suspension is active, adjusting spring and shock rates on the fly, according to conditions or the driver’s setting. The upgrade—RS Sport Suspension Plus with Dynamic Ride Control—is a full mechanical system with steel springs. The only adjustment changes the diameter of the shock valves, for comfort, normal or dynamic modes. DRC’s diagonally opposed pairs of shock absorbers are linked by hydraulic lines and a central valve. Cornering at speed, the valves increase oil flow in the shock at the deflected outside wheel almost immediately, keeping the body virtually flat. Initially only the air suspension will be available in the United States though Audi promises DRC at some unspecified point in the future.
DRC also includes a gear in the steering column that varies the steering ratio between 13:1 and 15.9:1 as a function of road speed or the driver’s preference. The RS7 comes standard on 20-inch rims with 275/35-series tires. The 21-inch upgrade lowers the aspect ratio to 30 but all-season tires are not an option in either case.
One of the RS7’s weight savers is a “wave” design for the standard steel brake rotors, measuring 15.5 inches in front and 14 inches rear with six-piston calipers. The disks’ outer edge is machined with a unique scallop shape shaving unsprung weight 6.6 pounds. The carbon-ceramic option—available in North America when DRC arrives—sheds another 33 pounds.
For $104,900 and an $895 destination charge, the RS7 will come from Germany with an expansive array of standard equipment including LED headlights, four-zone automatic air conditioning, navigation with Audi MMI and a built-in wireless LAN. Several appearance, performance and safety options, including Bang & Olufsen audio ($5,900), head-up display, night vision and adaptive cruise control can add $30,000 to the base price—before DRC or carbon-ceramic brakes come to our market.
Audi hasn’t specified exactly when the RS7 will arrive but it will certainly be here by fall. The United States has been the brand’s largest market for the A7 and that trend is expected to continue with the RS7. Apparently we like this hatchback. The A7 line will expand to four choices in 2014 as the RS7 and the new A7 TDI, with its 428-lb-ft, 38-mpg 3.0-liter diesel, join the A7 and S7.