Audi RS 7 Performance review

Audi RS 7 Performance review

This story started with a blank. Well, obviously with a blank page, but my mind too was blank. And this does not usually happen when there’s a very fast car to drive.

So there we were, in time to catch the sun rise over our favourite driving road outside Pune, streaks of mud courtesy the incessant rains wiped clean off the flanks, a glorious day dawning over a glorious car – a car that I’m rather familiar with. In three years of evo India we have done not one, but three major features with the RS 7. And now here we are, staring at a fourth. Where do I find the adjectives for yet another story? Heck there aren’t even lashings of carbonfibre to differentiate this RS 7 Performance from the hardly-shabby-on-performance RS 7. This car hasn’t even been launched in India so I can’t make any wisecracks on what obviously will be a mountain of money that Audi will happily relieve you of should you want to enter this club.

Gaurav is equally flummoxed. “What’s new?” he asks. What remains unsaid is, “Why did you wake me up at 4am?” Well, for that I have a very good reason – when offered a car that has an overabundance of horsepower you always say yes. Always. Even if there’s no story in sight.

Screw the photography then, let’s go for a drive. Engine in Sport. Gearbox in Sport. Steering in Sport. Differential in Sport. Suspension in Comfort. Lavasa, here we come. Left foot on brake, right on accelerator. Launch. F*#k! Nothing to write??? Launch an RS 7 and you can fill all 300 pages of this magazine with expletives. My god, this is bonkers!

The thing is you aren’t prepared for it. In an R8, for example, you expect your kidneys to be mashed into pulp by g-forces. In an M or AMG there’s such a big bonfire in the rear wheel arches that your mind goes into self-preservation mode, only rebooting at the speed at which apps now open on my iPhone newly updated with iOS 10.
The RS 7 just goes. Hunkers down on the rear dampers, a lightness to the helm to indicate weight transfer, no tyre smoke – just tremendous, a truly tremendous build up of pace. It’s vicious, violent and, most of all, an unexpected punch in the gut. Gaurav, a man with a hardy stomach for automotive violence, finds words to earn a smack from his mother.

Yet I can’t figure out what’s new with this RS 7 Performance. Okay, that’s a lie. I’m old school in that I read press kits before going out on a drive and I know what’s new with the RS 7 Performance – and that is 45bhp. I also re-read what I had earlier written about the RS 7 and no where could I find a hint for more horsepower. Yet somebody, definitely, asked for more power. And he’s my new best friend. Can you imagine the swagger required to rock up at an Audi dealership, take the RS 7 out for a spin, and walk out complaining that 552bhp was… not enough. Whoever you are, wherever you are, please know that you have a free subscription to this magazine for the rest of your life.

Anyway, to keep my new best friend happy, Audi extracted an additional 45 horses from the bi-turbo V8 and stuck a ‘Performance’ suffix to the RS 7. Not that it says that anywhere on the car (why?) but here we have a four-door, four-seat saloon car, a car that is usually to be found running a 3-litre diesel engine, sporting 600 Pferdestärkes (or 597bhp in plain English). And, even more mind-boggling-ly 750Nm of torque. That’s 190Nm more than an R8. WTF!
Anybody who says they can feel the extra 45bhp on the road, a public road at that, is evidently a better driver than me. Definitely a better tester than I. 552bhp is already enough power to make you soil your pants. Taking that up to 597bhp, well, your breakfast is already in your pants so it’s not going to make much difference, is it? And the figures back it up. 0-100kmph is quicker by two tenths, 3.7 seconds from 3.9 seconds. The difference lies in the 0-200kmph sprint that is quicker by 1.4 seconds. That’s your prison sentence extended to life.

And, for a car built for a 3-litre diesel engine (you do know that the A7 is an A6 with a sexy roofline), the
RS 7 – well the RS 7 Performance since that is the car we are talking about here – isn’t overwhelmed by all those horses. On a greasy road with more corners than straights the RS 7 – RS 7 Performance, sorry – is just mighty, a damn sight easier to drive to its limits than an AMG or M. It’s effortless performance. Once you’ve deployed your breakfast in your pants, deploying 597bhp on the road is way, way easier than it should be. It grips and goes. Pop your brave pills, give it more gas on the exit of corners than is wise, and you can feel the limited slip rear differential coming into play, the back end describing a slightly wider arc than the fronts, a smidge of oversteer to tell you it is oversteering but not to the point that your already bulging eyeballs pop right out of their sockets. The extra horsepower, actually the extra torque, does make it easier to bring the tail into play, or (and I’ll be completely honest here) it could just be the extra greasiness of a road subject to overnight rains. I also thought there was more whistling and whooshing from the two turbos but any car tester who can say that with a measure of certainty without back-to-back testing with the not-the-Performance RS 7 should really be working (and making more money) at Bose.

All said the RS 7, Performance or otherwise, is an epic driving experience. It even rides surprisingly well for a 597bhp monster – and because this is India, these things do matter, even more so than fuel efficiency (around 5kmpl and I don’t know why you’re asking). What the RS 7 is not, is as involving as a rear-wheel drive AMG or M. You can’t smoke the rears and that’s a bummer. Getting the rear to do a (slight) wiggle needs more commitment than what you mustered to stay awake all night copying those engineering sheets prior to final submission. And if the rear does get seriously sideways, oh boy, you need a little divine intervention to avoid a big f*#king bill. It does take away some emotion from the ‘Thrill of Driving’ but performance is truly Himalayan; even behind the wheel you can make yourself sick. Gaurav had enough an hour ago and is following in our tracking car.

Does the RS 7 Performance make any sense? Why the heck not? At 30 odd lakh rupees more than the RS 7’s 1.4 crore the price hardly matters then, does it? The only problem is another car that the go-faster boys at Audi make. It’s called the RS 6 Avant – it has similar performance, has space for two huskies, and is so cool that everything in your pants ice over. Now for my new best friend to bring his swag to Audi Gurgaon and place a deposit for one.

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