Audi RS7 2017 performance test

Few would call the 560-horsepower Audi RS7 low in power. However, Audi still felt it had to breathe more in the RS7’s 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 engine. The 605-hp model, dubbed the Audi RS7 Performance, was introduced last year. Its added power comes thanks to a new turbocharger design, more efficient intercooler heat exchangers, a reprogrammed engine computer, and revised camshafts that activate new exhaust valves. Maximum torque of 553 lb-ft is available from 2500 rpm to 5500 rpm in temporary overclocking mode. Typically, the engine makes 516 lb-ft at 1,750 rpm and rides a wave that peaks at 6000 rpm – 500 rpm above the peak of a standard car and just 800 rpm below the redline.

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Unleashing all 605 horses requires the car’s drive mode to be in the dynamic setting or a sport or manual selection of the eight-speed automatic transmission. In the latter mode, the driver can shift gears by pushing and pulling the gearshift lever or by pulling the large, seemingly fragile steering wheel-mounted paddles. Switch to Comfort or Automatic driving modes and put the transmission in its default setting, though, and the RS7 Performance engine opens the gate only to the 560-horsepower base-spec horses.

Weighing in at 4,487 pounds, our test car carried 34 more pounds of machine compared to the last RS7 we tested, a slight increase in the face of the additional 45 strains of the Performance model. Zero to 60 mph takes just 3.2 seconds, zero to 100 mph requires 7.3, and the quarter mile goes after 11.3 seconds, at which point the RS7 travels 125 mph. Those numbers are 0.2, 0.5 and 0.3 seconds better than the standard car, and the trap’s quarter-mile speed is 2 mph faster. The standard dual-mode exhaust system sang popular songs when it wasn’t running, but it actually lowered the performance model’s decibels in our interior sound level gauge at idle, while the noise level remained constant at 70 mph.

Hitting the left pedal resulted in the standard carbon-ceramic performance brakes stopping the car from 70 mph in 160 feet, 11 feet more than the Cadillac CTS-V and 17 feet greater than the distance recorded in the RS7 we tested previously. On a 300-foot skateboard, the Continental ContiSportContact 5P summer tires helped the four-wheel drive hatchback cling to pavement up to 0.94g.

Especially the performance of the RS7 is the Audi Ride Control Dynamic Suspension. Unlike the standard RS7, which uses air springs, the RS7 Performance features conventional coil springs paired with a set of three-position adjustable dampers that are connected diagonally from front to rear. When placed in its softest (Comfort) damper setting, the RS7 Performance’s ride quality can lead to back pain. Switch to the stiffer (dynamic) setting and you’ll want to invest in a bracket. The upside is that Audi body roll is kept to a minimum.

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Design-wise, the $130,450 RS7 performs slightly differently from the $111,650 RS7. Both cars wear the same strong front and rear fascias. However, Black Performance Sport surrounds the grille, windows, and exhaust ports, as well as carbon fiber trim on the front and rear air vents, lower front air intakes, and mirror caps. Check the right boxes, though, and the standard RS7 can be built in an almost identical layout, at a cost of $5,500. In any case, the RS7 Performance is a beautiful car, its fastback shape and pinched side windshield as a stylish complement to the RS’s bold chassis. Our test car’s $1075 Panther Black Crystal Effect paint made it even more impressive.

Inside, performance largely mirrors the RS7 standard. The heavily-bolstered seats hug the driver and front passenger, while the thick-rimmed, three-spoke steering wheel is the model to judge others by. The meaty wheel is attached to a quick 13.0:1 mount that’s well-weighted but in the end, unfortunately, lacks a lot of road feel.

The Audi Design Selection package, exclusive to the RS7 Performance, adds striking blue trim to the carbon fiber interior trim and blue stitching on the black leather and brushed seats. The package is a no-cost option, but it does require you to start in the spring at $3,000 for the black micro-finish main liner. All RS7 Performance models come standard with four-zone climate control, a sunroof, navigation, a head-up display, a 7.0-inch TFT instrument cluster and an 8.0-inch infotainment screen controlled by the Audi MMI system. The $2,450 driver assistance package installed in our test car added active safety elements like adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, and automatic high-beam headlights.

The RS7 and RS7 Performance both miss the central seat in the car’s reasonably spacious rear seat. As such, the RS7 can only carry four people. Those needing five-passenger seating should consider the Cadillac CTS-V or the Mercedes-AMG E63 S. What the RS7 lacks in maximum seating, however, it more than makes up for in cargo room, with 25 cubic feet of space. Available under the powered rear hatch, a number that easily outperforms its main competitors and even outperforms the Audi A4 Allroad wagon by one cubic foot.

If the standard Audi RS7 is a chef’s knife, then the RS7 Performance is a Santoku. Both are multi-purpose tools, but the RS7 Performance is simply a more refined tool.

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