You would think the RS6 Avant would be the big, fast Audi of choice. Simply because it’s an estate and fast estates are always cool. But now, having driven the RS7, I’m not so sure.
Not that there’s any great difference between them. Underneath the skin they are virtually identical. They use the same chassis; they are pretty much the same size; they use the same monstrous twin-turbo V8 engine and are equally as fast.
I wasn’t able to drive them back-to-back, so I can’t say if there is any significant difference in how they drive. I can say the RS7 is one of the few cars that genuinely has a double personality. Trickling along it’s quiet, spacious and comfortable; the engine is tractable and the interior is another of Audi’s lessons in ergonomic elegance. But flex the throttle even a little and it transforms into a rabid animal.
Make no mistake, the RS7 is a very big, very heavy car. But unleash all 552bhp and 516lb/ft the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 has to offer and it scorches towards the horizon. The quoted 0-62mph time of 3.9 seconds seems completely plausible; as standard it’s limited to 155mph and optionally to 174mph, though some road testers claim to have had it past 190.
But it’s not the outright speed that really impresses. It’s the bottomless mid-range grunt. Gears are almost irrelevant; just plant the loud pedal and it takes off. Though it’s always worth dropping a couple of cogs on the eight-speed automatic gearbox via the steering wheel paddles, just to hear the guttural bellow from the motor. Incidentally, I found a part of the powerband – about 3,000rpm in third gear – where it sounds exactly like an old-school Impreza Turbo. Glorious.
You can use the speed, as well. You can’t exactly fling it into corners, the chassis preferring a smoother, more measured approach. But it turns in keenly, with none of the understeer that used to blight big RS Audis. Of course, the quattro four-wheel-drive provides unbreakable grip and traction and the brakes are mighty. You could make insanely fast cross-country progress in this thing.
All this is true of the RS6 Avant, though. So how can I justify preferring the RS7 Sportback, especially when it’s not as practical and costs £6,000 more? Well, it’s simple really: I prefer the styling. The base A7 is a much more handsome thing than the A6 Avant anyway; add in the RS version’s aggressive bumpers, deep side skirts, bulging wheelarches and near-perfect stance, and the RS7 just looks awesome.
In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the Audi RS7 is the closest thing I have found to my idea of the perfect car.
Audi RS7 Sportback
Engine: 4.0-litre V8 twin-turbo petrol
Transmission: 8-speed automatic; four-wheel-drive
Power/Torque: 552bhp; 516lb/ft
Economy/Emissions: 29.7mpg; 221g/km
0-62mph: 3.9 seconds
Top speed: 155mpg (limited)
By Only Motors