Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5
  • Headline figures: 600hp and 800Nm
  • Equally impressive acceleration
  • It retains the old RS 6's twin-turbo V8

Beyond the striking styling and fabulous interior, the RS 7’s fabulous engine is a major attraction. Maximum power is 600hp and there’s 800Nm of torque, all of which means that it’s quick and supremely easy to drive. According to Audi, the 0-62mph time is 3.6 seconds and it'll get to 124mph in just 12 seconds. That’s not bad for a car that weighs 1,815kg (lighter than both the Mercedes-AMG E63 S and the BMW M5 Performance), and has lounging space for four.

It’s available in three forms - the standard RS7 Sportback, Carbon Black, and Vorsprung editions, but according to Audi, all three have an electronically-limited maximum speed of 174mph, which can be optioned up to 190mph with the additional RS tuner performance pack. Clearly this is academic in the UK, but what it does mean is that at motorway speeds, the RS7 is relaxed and completely unstressed.

The first thing to say is that the TFSI 4.0-litre V8 has an amazing soundtrack. It barks into life with an angry woofle, and idles angrily. Inside it’s never over-loud, although its volume level can be tailored by whatever Drive Mode is selected. In standard, it’s a gentle background rumble most of the time, but in Sport it’s agreeably louder, but never intrusive. Around town, it’s soothingly quiet, and the mild-hybrid system and cylinder deactivation tech smooths out gentle driving.

Auto-only, but what do you expect?

Audi RS 7 Sportback, driving

Manual lovers need to look away now. There's only one choice - an eight-speed tiptronic auto, which includes Launch Control, that's hooked up with Audi's Quattro permanent four-wheel drive system. As before, it features a variable torque split, front-to-rear, via a mechanical centre differential. That means if a wheel slips, more drive torque is automatically delivered to the axle with the better traction – with up to 70% channelled to the front wheels or 85% to the rears.

There's also wheel-selective torque control , which brakes the wheels with reduced load on the inside of a bend slightly before they can begin to spin. The Quattro sport differential shifts the drive torque when cornering at speed as required between the rear wheels, thus improving traction, stability and dynamics. For the driver, that should means massive safety margins at all road speeds – and if it gets into a slide, the electronics will more often than not get you out of trouble.

Handling

  • The RS7 is big but feels agile on twisty roads
  • Adaptive air suspension and all-wheel steering as standard
  • Comfort mode is the best all-round compromise

First thing’s first – for all those who assume that Audis are numb and uninteresting to drive, we’ll say that the RS 7’s going to be something of a surprise. Underneath that svelte body is a sophisticated five-link suspension set-up that comes with RS Sport adaptive air suspension, which adjusts its ride height depending on speed, as well as coming with self-levelling. The RS 7 sits 20mm lower than a standard A7, but it drops a further 10mm at 74mph. Needless to say, on the motorway, it feels solid and planted right up to derestricted German autobahn speeds.

The adaptive air suspension set-up has a number of drive modes that can be selected to tailor the way it rides and handles. We didn’t get chance to delve too deeply into this set-up during our first drive, but long story short – if you want the best all-round compromise on the road, leave it in Comfort. Not only does the ride settle down nicely, but the steering balance also feels better this way. But it’s good to know that if you want soft(ish), it can deliver, but it can also be firmed up to the point of discomfort. As for how it handles the bends, the RS 7 works well in all configurations, with excellent body control. Yes, finally, Audi has delivered an air suspension set-up that works well.

The RS 7 also comes with rear-wheel steering as standard. It works by turning the rear wheels against the front ones at low speeds to boost manoeuvrability, while at higher speeds they go with the front wheels to make it more stable. In action it works very well, and on twisting and narrow mountain roads, the RS 7 feels agile and controllable, and you soon get used to its sensitivity. The net benefit is that you feel more comfortable - and as the old cliché goes, it shrinks around you in tight corners.

There are many settings to tweak to individualise the car to you own tastes - and it will be great fun spending time doing for any owner. You can change how compliant you want the suspension to be, the weight of the steering and how responsive the engine is. Don’t expect the active steering to offer much in the way of road feel in any of the drive modes, though – but we’re not sure how much that matters given its responsive and adjustable weighting.

Audi RS 7 Sportback, cornering