What Car? says...
"The Audi RS7 is extremely quick, nicely made, well equipped and jolly practical, but you could also say the same about other, much cheaper Audi A7 Sportback models." That was our cold but honest summation of Audi’s halo four-door coupé when we first sampled it at the turn of the decade. Doesn’t make you want to rush out and buy one, does it?
The trouble with earlier RS7s is that while they're comfortable and ballistically fast, they lack driver involvement – and that's a problem when you’re competing against the Porsche Panamera and the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-door Coupé.
So when it came time to update the current second-generation RS7, Audi Sport decided to replace the regular model with a Performance edition. The headline change is an extra 29bhp courtesy of two larger turbochargers, bumping power up to 621bhp. With an official 0-62mph time of just 3.4sec, it's the fastest four-door coupé Audi has ever produced.
As we all know, though, more power doesn’t necessarily equate to more fun, hence the brand’s decision to fit all Performance models with four-wheel steering and a torque-vectoring differential as standard. Combined with optional lightweight forged alloy wheels, the RS7 should now – in theory – feel lighter on its toes.
You can also add some optional go-faster goodies such as carbon-ceramic brakes and a sports suspension set-up called Dynamic Ride Control (which replaces the standard air suspension with diagonally interlinked coil springs). With those fitted, you're looking at a car that costs more than the Audi R8 supercar.
It’s a serious bit of kit, then. But have these changes transformed a somewhat one-dimensional super coupé into an involving driver’s car? That's what we'll tell you in this review, as we rate the Audi RS7 Performance in all the important areas and tell you how it does against rival models.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The face-lifted second-generation Audi RS7 Performance is powered by a thumping great 4.0-litre V8 engine, and with 621bhp coupled to the quattro four-wheel-drive system, its acceleration could be described as "controlled aggression". The 0-62mph time of 3.4 seconds is ballistic, and the traction available means it’s never dispensed in a disorderly fashion.
Granted, the two massive turbos exhibit a touch of lag, so it's not quite in the same league as the instantaneous surge you’re met with when you plant the accelerator in an Audi e-tron GT or a Porsche Taycan but does that really matter? Once it’s surging onwards you’re treated to a wonderful V8 soundtrack, which is something those electric car rivals can’t replicate.
In fact, we reckon the RS7 Performance possesses one of the most characterful engines in the class when compared to, say, the rather muted Porsche Panamera Turbo. Every time you shift down a gear or squeeze the accelerator to merge on to a motorway, you can’t help but smile.
Better still, you can use all the power all the time because the car is extremely surefooted, grips well and steers confidently. In fact, with its standard-fit rear-wheel steering – which tightens the turning circle at town speeds and increases stability on faster roads – it's as easy to drive in tight car parks as it is reassuring to drive quickly on flowing B-roads.
There's a 'but' here though: the BMW M8 Gran Coupé has more playful handling. If you really want to up the ante on a track, you can turn off the M8's four-wheel drive and unleash its power to the rear wheels alone. It’s far harder to do that in the RS7 without purposely trying to upset the balance on the way into a corner. That won’t make a bit of difference for day-to-day use, but it's a clear pointer to the differences in philosophies between the two performance cars.
It’s why the RS7’s automatic gearbox isn’t quite as snappy as the M8’s, with slightly slower gearchanges that are less perceptible and increase comfort. Speaking of which, there's a Comfort drive mode. That adjusts the air suspension so it's supple and compliant, although when you up the pace on undulating country roads it allows for a little too much body float, forcing you to ease off.
For that reason, we recommend the optional (standard on Vorsprung) RS Sports Suspension Plus, which replaces the standard air suspension with a set of diagonally interlinked coil springs. They give you a firm but well-controlled ride around town and sharp, taut body control in the country.
The RS7 feels wonderfully settled at motorway speeds and generates surprisingly little wind and road noise, even when fitted with the optional lightweight 22in wheels.
Strengths Incredible straight-line performance; impressive all-weather pace; charismatic engine note; quiet at a cruise
Weaknesses Handling not as playful as the BMW M8's; loose body control with standard air suspension; auto gearbox could be snappier
The interior layout, fit and finish
As with the regular A7 Sportback, the Audi RS7 Performance comes with Audi’s Virtual Cockpit as standard, replacing traditional analogue dials with a 12.3in screen. Its graphics are bespoke for the RS7, and it can show all sorts of information, from peak G-force levels to a full-screen sat-nav map. In fact, there’s so much information positioned just below your sightline that it makes the optional head-up display (standard on Vorsprung trim) pretty much redundant.
Slap in the middle of the dashboard are the infotainment screens. The top one is 10.1in, and covers things such as the radio, navigation and smartphone links (Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard). Just below that sits another 8.6in touchscreen, which is dedicated to the climate controls and convenience features.
The menus are a little convoluted and it takes time to work out where everything is, but generally it reacts quickly to commands. Both screens provide haptic feedback to confirm when you’ve touched an icon, but you still have to glance away from the road to hit them in the first place, and that’s our biggest bugbear. BMW’s iDrive system is so much easier to use while you’re driving, thanks to its physical rotary control and shortcut buttons. More positively, wireless phone-charging is standard across the range.
The RS7’s pedals are offset to the right, and the transmission tunnel encroaches into the footwell a bit and butts up to your left leg, but the driving position is otherwise good. The RS sports seats are superbly supportive and come with full electric adjustment (including memory recall and lumbar adjustment) and all models have a powered steering column.
Visibility forwards is about as good as it gets, thanks to front pillars that are narrower than those on the Taycan. Being a coupé, with narrow side and rear windows, the view over your shoulders is less generous, but all-round parking sensors and a rear-view camera are standard. You get super-bright adaptive matrix LED headlights that can stay on main beam without dazzling other drivers.
It’s an Audi, so don’t think for a moment that the RS7 isn’t deluxe inside. The materials are of a high grade and everything feels beautifully constructed. That said, it’s still architecturally an A7, whereas Porsche's Panamera and Taycan are bespoke models that feel a touch more special and are at least as well screwed together.
Strengths Solid build quality; Virtual Cockpit is superb; lovely mix of materials
Weaknesses Pedals are offset; BMW M8 has an easier to use infotainment system
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
Despite its sporty and intimate feel inside, the front of the Audi RS7 has enough leg room for six-footers and head room is fine unless you’re extremely tall. The interior is plenty wide enough as well, and there’s loads of storage space.
Most will find it easy enough to get in and out of the rear seats, and the RS7 offers more than enough head and leg room for two tall adults. Indeed, only the Panamera can rival it for roominess in the rear, with the M8 Gran Coupé and the Taycan both feeling more pinched. Three adult passengers will struggle to get comfortable in the back though.
How about the RS7’s boot? Well, there’s a wide-opening tailgate – powered as standard – so it’s a breeze to load even very bulky items, including your golf clubs. In our tests it could take up to eight carry-on suitcases, which is one more than the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-d00r Coupé and two more than the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo (the estate car version).
If you need even more room, you’ll find it handy that 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats come as standard, allowing you to fit any longer loads as required.
Strengths Spacious interior; decent oddment storage; generously sized boot for a coupé
Weaknesses Back seats are a squeeze for three adults; Audi RS6 Avant has a much taller boot
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
The Audi RS7 Performance undercuts the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-door Coupé as a cash buy, as well as the more powerful versions of the Panamera and the Taycan. There are cheaper versions of the Porsche models available, though, and it won’t hold on to such a big percentage of its list price as the Taycan after three years.
One thing you can’t complain about is how much equipment the RS7 performance comes with. On top of matrix LED headlights and infotainment features, the entry-level RS7 has 21in alloy wheels, metallic paint, privacy glass, heated and ventilated front seats, four-zone climate control, cruise control and power-folding door mirrors.
Carbon Black trim adds mainly styling changes and lightweight 22in wheels, but we'd be tempted to step up to Vorsprung trim as it nets you everything you want from a flagship performance car, including carbon details inside and out, RS-sports suspension Plus with Dynamic Ride Control (DRC), a panoramic roof and a plethora of safety assist systems. It's not cheap, but still manages to undercut a base Panamera Turbo S with no options.
Safety kit includes automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-departure warning, traffic-sign recognition and, on Vorsprung trim, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. The Audi A7, on which the RS7 is based, has been crash tested by Euro NCAP and came out generally very well. There were some issues highlighted, such as a modicum of risk of adult chest injuries in a side impact and the potential of whiplash injuries for kids in the rear.
Audi finished 21st out of the 32 car makers included in the 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey – ahead of Jaguar, but behind Volvo and Tesla.
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Strengths Plenty of kit as standard; undercuts key rivals on price
Weaknesses Poor fuel economy; relatively quick depreciation; you’ll want top-spec Vorsprung trim to get all the goodies
Yes. It can accelerate from 0-62mph in 3.4sec and the official top speed is limited to 174mph. Audi will raise the limited top speed to 189mph if you option the RS Dynamics Package plus pack.
When the second-generation RS7 was launched, its twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 put out 592bhp. However, as part of a mid-life facelift, Audi fitted larger turbochargers, bumping up power to 621bhp.
|RRP price range||£118,545 - £135,945|
|Number of trims (see all)||3|
|Number of engines (see all)||1|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||petrol|
|MPG range across all versions||23.2 - 23.2|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||3 years / 60000 miles|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£8,575 / £9,863|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£17,151 / £19,726|