What is it?
That’s right, if you were about to lay down £85,485 for an Audi RS7, then wait. Because if you can find another £6500 down the back of the chaise longue, you can have this Audi RS7 Performance instead. Stumping up the extra gets you another 44bhp at the bi-turbo V8’s top end and 37lb ft more torque, taking the Performance’s totals to 597bhp and 553lb ft – the latter on overboost.
The Performance suffix is an apt one. The standard car isn’t exactly slow, but with this upgrade Audi claims it can now charge from 0-62mph in just 3.7sec (an improvement of 0.2sec over the regular RS7) and will hit 124mph in just a smidgen over 12 seconds. It tops out at an electronically limited 155mph, or, if you’ve a screw loose, you can pay even more to have that figure raised to 189mph.
Also included over the standard RS7 are larger, 21in alloy wheels, a sports exhaust system, a drive mode select button on the steering wheel, more privacy glass and blue stitching on the RS7’s sports seats. A Titanium pack is also standard, which turns the RS7’s lip spoiler, mirrors, diffuser and air intake ducts a pleasing shade of titanium grey.
What’s it like?
The RS7 Performance falls into a special group of cars, cars in which, should you commit to full throttle (in any driving mode, on wet or dry roads), you need to be 100% certain that the next half-mile of road is absolutely clear. Without doubt, Volkswagen Group’s twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 that powers the RS7 Performance remains one of the most impressive ways there currently is of combusting fuel in return for forward motion. That said, you’d be hard pushed to feel the Performance’s extra on the road.
We were surprised to see our press example relatively free of options; indeed, it’s possible to spend more than £8000 on carbon-ceramic brakes alone, and many will be tempted by Audi’s Dynamic Package Plus pack. At nearly £11k, the pack includes those brakes, allows the Performance to hit that aforementioned unrestricted top speed, swaps the car’s suspension to Audi’s RS Dynamic set-up from the as-standard adjustable air springs and introduces the firm’s dynamic steering set-up.
Experience tells us that the above extras will improve an RS7’s handling, and judging by the heat pouring off the ticking standard brakes of our car (with only optional parking and safety packs added) after a lengthy, meandering strop, the ceramics at least may be worth the money if you plan to head out on track once in a while.
That’s not to say the pace at which our car crossed wet and dry countryside was anything short of staggering. Bearing in mind that the RS7 weighs more than two tonnes with people and fuel on board, the combination of its sheer mechanical grip and rear-biased all-wheel-drive system ensure it takes a huge amount of overcooking before the front wheels begin to drift wide.
What’s missing is a real sense of connection with what’s going on. The standard steering is the biggest culprit, feeling too heavy in Dynamic mode and a little light in Comfort, and in neither does it make you feel definitively dialled in. You’re left with complete confidence that the chassis will haul you around bends at fantastic speeds, and set you up to fire out the other side with equal gusto, but never that your steering inputs will be acted on immediately.
It’s a shame, because the RS7 is a competent car otherwise. Despite its huge 21in wheels, the standard air suspension does a remarkable job of sponging away ruts and bumps. There’s some road roar at speed, yes, but otherwise the cabin is civilised for a car that’s capable of such savagery. Rear headroom is tight for the particularly tall but four adults will be seated inside, and the only negative is that Audi’s last-generation MMI infotainment and interior materials aren’t in line with the firm’s latest and greatest examples.
Should I buy one?
Even with its optional Dynamic Pack added, the RS7 Performance shouldn’t be classed as the last word in driver enjoyment – Mercedes and Jaguar have proven that luxury and performance can be more playful. Nevertheless, for many, the way the Performance explodes up the road one minute, then plays a sleek, comfortable companion the next will certainly appeal.
Of course, its main rivals are already off-sale and we await their next efforts, and it’s worth bearing in mind that Audi’s A3 now has more up-to-date tech and architecture than an A7. As such, there’s still much pleasure to be had from RS7 ownership, which is heightened further by committing to a Performance, but enter it knowing full well the length of this car’s tooth.
Audi RS7 Performance
Location: Surrey; On sale: Now; Price £92,060; Engine V8, 3993cc, twin-turbocharged, petrol; Power 597bhp at 6100-6800rpm; Torque 553lb ft at 2500-5500rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic; Kerb weight 1930kg; Top speed 155mph; 0-62mph 3.7sec; Economy 29.7mpg (combined); CO2 rating & BIK tax band 221g/km, 37%
What is it?