By Kris Hansen
Being an Audi fanatic living in the USA has always been a little frustrating. Sure, we always had nice cars like the S models and of course the R8, but we never got the really special ones. For years we could only imagine what it was like to drive the Uber Audis, such as the unbelievably lustworthy RS 6. American Audi nuts can now rejoice, as we may now taste the formerly forbidden fruit!
Translation – Audi is finally importing a full size RS car to our shores – the all new 2014 RS 7.
Without hesitation we say it was worth the wait. The RS 7 is an absolutely amazing machine. Built upon what is possibly one of the finest looking cars in recent memory, the Audi A7 (and S7), the RS 7 packs an epic powerplant and uprated running gear for the ultimate combination of grace, luxury and brute force.
Instead of delving directly into what makes the RS 7 different from the S7, we’ll cut right to the part that we think most people want to read about – speed. The RS 7 is freaking FAST. It’s not sneaky fast, where you don’t realize how fast you’re going like in some cars, or so smooth that you can’t feel the acceleration. No sir. Put your right foot down in this car, and you unleash a mad fury of sweet V8 music and brutal acceleration that blurs your vision, and leaves the imprint of quilted leather on your back.
The RS 7 possesses bona fide supercar performance specs to back up the seat of the pants impression. Audi lists the 0 – 60 at 3.7 seconds, and a top speed limited to 180 mph (or optionally upped to 189, and either are frighteningly easy for the RS 7 to attain). Keep in mind that the RS 7 has already proven to be faster than the usually understated numbers that Audi publish by a variety of automotive outlets.
We had the chance to explore the far reaches of the speedometer on a deserted stretch of Nevada/California highway, and we can attest that even at 180mph, the RS 7 is amazingly composed, and dare we say easy to drive. Obviously it’s not for the faint hearted, but this is a car that can build incredible speed in a very short amount of time. The RS 7 is so quick, it felt to us that this car will reach top speed faster than even the R8, primarily since it’s got nearly 200lb/ft more torque. And the RS 7 can hit those speeds with 3 of your friends along for the ride, with luggage.
Under the RS 7’s sexy hood is a modified version of the S8’s twin turbo 4 liter v8 engine, which is already uprated form the S7’s engine. In the RS 7, this mill pumps out 560hp and 516 lb/ft of torque, which is 40 more hp and 30 or so more torques than the S8 motor produces, and 140 hp and 110 lb/ft more than the S7. The RS 7 makes all of that extra power through the use of different turbochargers, as well as different intake and exhaust manifolds for more efficient breathing.
All of this furious power is fed to all 4 wheels via the 8 speed Tiptronic transmission, instead of the S7’s 7 speed dual clutch transmission. This change is mostly due to the Tiptronic’s ability to withstand the insane torque the RS 7 generates. On paper this would seem to be a downgrade, but is in fact not at all, thanks to perfect tuning of the engine/transmission relationship, as well as the tuning of the shifting. In the RS 7, the 8 speed perfectly mimics the S-tronic’s downshift burbles, and upshift burps, without any grabbiness in traffic. The 8 speed transmission also has its own version of Launch Control too. Given that there is no way to tell a torque converter to stay open like you can with clutch plates, the RS 7 launch control only revs the car up to around 2000 rpm, but in reality that’s enough to allow the turbos to build up boost, and allow for insane slingshot launches. Added bonus is a long 8th gear for effortless highway cruising.
Since we’re on the topic of effortless cruising – Audi are keen to point out that this 4 door supercar, with its 560hp and 190mph top speed, does NOT get hit with the gas guzzler tax! How is this possible? Audi’s Cylinder On Demand is the simple answer. During light driving, the RS 7 deactivates 4 of the 8 cylinders, allowing the car to achieve surprising economy numbers. Audi say that the RS 7 can manage 27mpg on the highway, and we don’t doubt that claim.
Most of our driving was on relatively straight and flat Nevada roads, though we did have the chance to explore some mountain passes, which showed us that the RS 7 is as wonderfully balanced as its “lesser” siblings in the tight twisty bits, but thanks to the madness under the hood, and the standard Sport rear differential, this is a car that can really be hustled around corners. It seems to crave the turns as much as it does the long deserted straights.
The standard RS 7 makes use of the same air suspension system found in the S7. This setup allows for variable spring rates, though the dampers are not variable rate. An optional Dynamic Ride Control will be available later, and this system replaces the air springs with steel coils. In all honesty, we feel that only the most hardened enthusiast would prefer the DRC over the standard suspension. Audi have truly mastered the sporty air suspension tuning. The RS 7 is never floaty (even at max speed) or bouncy, all body movements are exceedingly well controlled.
All in all, we absolutely loved our introduction to this amazing car. For those fortunate people who will pony up the $105,400 entry fee, the RS 7 is possibly the most epic luxury sports sedan ever made.