Monday, February 19, 2018

Audi's practical speed demon

Appearance: The RS 7 is striking. Audi's familiar trapezoidal grille gets polished-black honeycomb and is flanked by gaping air intakes. The look screams performance. The narrow headlights have Audi's full LED system. The roof is significantly raked, much like a coupe, which does limit rear-seat headroom. It's an aerodynamic design, but Lyra still doesn't like the cropped rear end. Some options enhanced the car's visual impact, such as 21-inch five-spoke blade-design wheels and the Optic Package ($950), whose matte-aluminum trim stands out against the Misano Red Pearl paint ($500). The RS 7 has dual-oval exhausts integrated into the bumper design.

Performance: The RS 7 is powered by a 4.0-liter TFSI twin-turbo V-8 that puts out a whopping 560 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. Even though the car weighs 4,500 pounds, it doesn't seem to hinder the acceleration, which can pin you back in your seat. The exhaust note might seem tame on idle and in regular driving, but when you step on the gas, the beast growls to life. The estimated mpg — 16 city and 27 highway — is frugal enough to avoid a gas-guzzler tax. Audi's 8-speed Tiptronic automatic is one of our favorite transmissions; it's smooth, quick and competent. The RS 7 has continuously adjustable air suspension, which we felt worked well for most driving conditions, and for a big car, it corners well. The dynamic steering is well-assisted, but Lyra felt like she was fighting it in some highway driving.

Interior: It's luxurious, with premium leather, soft-touch surfaces and some of the best-looking trim we've seen: The dash and door panels of our tester had a very attractive pinstriped finish ($1,300) that combines layered aluminum and black wood inlays. The Valcona leather seats have a quilted pattern with white stitching. They are soft, well-bolstered and comfortable. Then there's the tech, which uses Audi's somewhat unwieldy Multi Media Interface system. The center nav screen is retractable and emerges from the dash when you turn on the car. Our tester had the Audi Connect system that uses Google satellite imagery, which takes navigation mapping to another level visually but can also be distracting. The rearview camera has several viewing modes. Our favorite: a corner view to see what's coming from each side. Our tester also had the optional Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System ($5,900). Peter thinks it's simply the best sound system he has heard in a car. The car's power tailgate has a high opening, so the close button is a reach for shorter people.

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