It’s just so typical. I get my hands on one of the fastest production cars to appear on the market and just as I – and it – are warming up, we get caught in a ten-mile queue on a motorway.
Still, for every negative there’s a positive. The two and a half hours I spent gridlocked on the M5 in Gloucestershire meant that I didn’t just get a close-up view of the gravel and tarmac ingredients of a modern trunk road, I also got lots of time to examine in detail what you get for your £115,000+ in the Audi RS7 Sportback.
Incredibly it’s the 59th model to carry the Audi RS badge and it’s also one of the fastest, with a top speed of 189 mph and breathtaking acceleration from a standing start to 62 mph in just 3.9 seconds, just 0.2 of a second slower than a Ferrari FF. At its heart is a 4.0-litre V8 twin-turbo power unit coupled with eight-speed tiptronic transmission and quattro all-wheel-drive with sports differential. That, along with adaptive air suspension and dynamic ride control, makes this one of the most stunning cars I’ve driven for a long time.
Audi is pretty proud of this beast, calling it the most seductive model in the company’s RS history, combining the searing performance of the stunning 560bhp RS6 Avant with the elegant coupe looks of the A7 Sportback. Sitting stationary on the motorway isn’t the best way to assess such a car but I had time to fiddle with all the bits on the inside – and there are lots of them.
The flat-bottomed, three-spoke RS steering wheel has all the important functions to hand, including aluminium gearshift paddles, and across the dash all the controls and displays are simple, clear and functional with the now well-established Audi look of businesslike efficiency. The leather, heated and electrically-adjustable sports seats are comfortable and supportive and, if things get too hot, there’s a tilt and slide glass sunroof or four-zone air conditioning. There’s a crystal-clear head-up display but the main functions come through the eight-inch colour screen and control knob on the central console.
The audio was absolutely superb, but that’s what you’d expect from the Bang and Olufsen sound system which adds £6,300 to the price tag. It has all sorts of fancy electronic bits and pieces which lay siege to your ears but even that can’t drown out the fabulous roar from under the bonnet and out the back end through the massive tail pipes of the £1,000 sports exhaust.
Eventually the traffic cleared – the road had been blocked after a pile-up involving two artics – so I took the first exit and that’s when things really started to happen. The performance, stability and overall fun factor are off the scale, helped by the £33,000 of extras fitted to the test car, including the £10,725 Dynamic Package Plus.
The quattro all-wheel-drive has been the benchmark for superb traction since it first burst onto the scene in 1980 and dominated world rallying in those early years. The latest generation is outstanding, varying power according to demand by up to 85 per cent to the rear axle and up to 70 per cent to the front wheels. Those early Quattros pushed out around 200 bhp. This latest version in the RS7 has almost three times that, at 560bhp, yet the CO2 has been brought down to 229g/km and economy is around 29 mpg – figures which are better than the rivals including the BMW M6 Gran Coupe, the CLS 63 AMG from Mercedes, Jaguar’s XKR-S Coupe and the Panamera Turbo from Porsche. That’s achieved by some great work by the engineers in weight-saving wherever possible. 20 per cent of the surface area of the car is aluminium and overall the car is 15 per cent lighter than if it had an all-steel body.
The engine is also super-efficient with four cylinders shutting down when not needed, as part of the fuel saving measures. The car isn’t just amazing on the road, it also has an impressive potential residual value of 31 per cent after three years, better than the BMW and Merc competition.
While the RS7 will appeal only to specialist (and wealthy) buyers, it’ll keep the Audi brand high in the desirability stakes. Let’s just hope the roads can stay clear enough for long enough for those fortunate owners to get the most from it.
PRICE £82,010 (£115,405 as tested)
ENGINE 8cyls, 3,993cc, turbocharged petrol
PERFORMANCE Max speed 155mph; 0-62mph 3.9s
CO2 EMISSIONS 229g/km