Engineering prowess obvious on exceptional V8 petrol — just don't ask the price
It is probably unfair to ask you not to go looking for the price of this week’s review car before picking your way through this critique of it. (You won’t find the price in the usual spot in the accompanying slot.) I’ll take a chance that some of you, who like the idea of stretching curiosity a little bit longer, will oblige.
The car in question is the striking looking Audi RS7 Sportback. It is a serious motor with lots of technology within its striking frame.
I just thought it would make a change, for once, from some of the politically correct cars I’ve driven this past while and that I’d let it serve as a reminder of how engineering prowess still shines in the rarefied world of big petrol powerhouses. And that there are people to buy them.
I know I risk being accused of highlighting something that’s anathema to many at this early juncture of our green-era evolution.
But you know what? With all the torrid reality of these times something in me just wanted to momentarily blow away the cobwebs of pandemic and the VRT changes and the onset of dark evenings etc.
I know I am spoilt. I know it is easy for me to test something like this, then leave it back without having to worry about the financial consequences.
At the same time it is impossible not to retain a whiff of rebel-rebel nostalgia for a genre that is so threatened by taxation and regulation. It’s now a different world: We’re talking 0-100kmh in 3.7 seconds here, 600PS on tap.
The RS7 is imposing to look at too, though I think the plunging rear-flanks are too sharply raked. However, if that’s what they need to emphasise its separate Sportback nature then I could probably live with it — but only just.
I could stick with the 4-litre V8 Twin Turbo 600bhp petrol much, much longer. I’d almost forgotten the feel of potency of having a 4-litre V8 under the bonnet; not to mention such a car having Tiptronic transmission and quattro all-wheel-drive too.
My only question is where in God’s name do you drive a car like this to even one-hundredth of its capability without setting a record number of speeding fines in your first hour on the road?
The answer, of course, is you don’t. This is not a car for practical folk. It is for the tiny, well-heeled minority who can take it to the track, for example, to cut loose and use the appropriate driving modes to get a sense of what the mix of engine, transmission, quattro and underpinning engineering bits can conjure.
For me, on the open public road, the challenge was to drive in such a way that I could tentatively pick up on the potential without breaking the law. So I kept the revs high and the speed ‘low’. The huge exhaust pipe — it is truly large — did its best to sound like the car was being driven much faster and harder than was the case. I worked hard to create that impression.
But, despite my best efforts, I never found the ‘magic’ I thought lurked in its depths. Yes, it was betimes a demonstration of power and pace on my open and winding roads. And yes it ticked many of the myriad boxes you’d associate with a motor of this nature.
But I think maybe the BMW M5 Competition would appeal that bit more in terms of immediacy — the same for the Mercedes AMG 63. For all the RS7’s prowess I felt it was operating at a little distance from me. I didn’t feel quite as ‘involved’ as I anticipated. Of course such matters are entirely subjective. I know some people who would glow with delight over merely being in charge of such a beautifully crafted technical opus.
On a more practical nature: it beats those two key rivals hands-down on inner space. What a wonderful cabin — I loved the seating — and dash with its spray of connectivity and touchscreen driver interaction. Rear-seat room (people would pay to be driven in this too) is exceptional and the long boot seemed to go on forever.
If you’ve waited on the price until now: well done and thanks. The reason I begged the favour stems from my own experience. I nearly fell out of my standing when I saw it.
Would you believe it’s currently €190,139? Yes around €190,000 for this petrol powerhouse (retail price €168,000, options came to €20,364; metallic paint added €1,775). And road tax is €2,350 a year.
I’ll be back to more practical motors next week, I promise.
Facts & Figures
Spec includes: 22ins alloys, HD Matrix LED headlights, heated/ventilated front seats, Valcona leather, adaptive air suspension, electric sports seats, reversing camera, 4-zone climate control, virtual cockpit.
Extras on test car include: Sport exhaust, panoramic roof, red brake callipers, 360-degree cameras.