2016 Audi RS 7 Review

RS 7

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2016 Audi RS 7 Overview

The dynamic, high-performance Audi RS 7 Sportback gets a number of updates for 2016, part of a general overhaul of the automaker's entire A6 and A7 lines, of which the RS 7 is a sporty, top-level variant. All the updates are limited to cosmetic and design changes, but they give the RS 7 an even sportier, more refined appearance, both inside and out. Power and performance remain unchanged for 2016, although Audi has updated the vehicle's quattro permanent all-wheel-drive (AWD) system, which helps to improve handling.

Out front, the 2016 RS 7 now displays new LED automatic headlights, a redesigned front fascia with new bumpers and lower air intakes, and a revised Singleframe deep-mouthed grille with its distinctive RS black honeycomb mesh insert. However, since the RS 7 just joined Audi's lineup in 2014, some of the front-end changes are fairly subtle, although the new headlight contours stand out. In the rear, the RS 7 receives new LED taillights and stylish oval tailpipes. In addition, owners can choose from a number of new exterior colors, including Floret Silver, Glacier White, Mythos Black, and Sepang Blue.

Inside, the RS 7 now comes equipped with a redesigned instrument cluster, new shift paddles, and revised air-vent nozzles, as well as new trim and color options, such as carbon fiber inserts interwoven with red thread. The automaker's latest-generation MMI navigation and infotainment system, recently updated, comes standard, while Audi offers ventilated seats with a massage function as an option.

Called a 5-door coupe by Audi, the RS 7 retains its sleek overall design, long hood, fastback body style, and athletic stance. A low roofline and large wheel wells also add to its sporty appearance. In addition to the black honeycomb grille, large lower air intakes, and unique tailpipes, a number of RS-specific features distinguish the RS 7 from the standard A7/S7, including a diffuser and lower splitter up front and a power-extending spoiler in the rear, as well as unique side sills. Heated auto-dimming side mirrors and matte aluminum exterior trim around the windows and mirrors are among the standard features, while new gloss black and carbon exterior trim packages for 2016 provide an even more distinctive appearance.

The RS 7 gives many of the world's top sports cars a run for their money, thanks to its compact yet competent twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8, which puts out a substantial 560 hp and peak torque of 516 lb-ft in a broad range from 1,750 to 5,500 rpm. With all that high-end torque, the RS 7 dashes from 0-60 mph in a head-snapping 3.9 seconds, though some testers have reported even quicker jaunts to 60 in as little as 3.4 seconds. That's supercar territory, with superb yet controlled power delivery, testers note. Audi limits the RS 7's top speed to 174 mph.

A ZF 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission with quick shifts and a long overdrive eighth gear directs all that power to the rear wheels. Owners can choose from Normal and Sport shift modes, as well as a manual-shift mode. Audi equips the V8 with RS-specific engine-management and intake systems for optimal performance. A start/stop system deactivates 4 cylinders when not required to help improve fuel economy, which checks in at 16 mpg city/27 highway. The engine requires premium fuel.

The track-tuned RS 7 sits 0.8 inches lower than its A7/S7 brethren, and features an RS-specific adaptive air suspension system with adaptive damping. Owners who want something even sportier can opt for an RS Sport Suspension Plus with Dynamic Ride Control. The RS 7 rides on big 20-inch forged lightweight alloy wheels and comes equipped with internally ventilated disc brakes. Owners can opt for larger 21-inch cast aluminum wheels in three styles, as well as carbon fiber ceramic disks.

Audi's quattro AWD system, which comes standard, receives new software algorithms for 2016, designed to improve agility and responsiveness. The AWD system includes an oil-cooled center differential, which distributes power 40/60 front-to-rear in normal driving situations, but makes adjustments as needed depending on road conditions. Owners can opt for an available rear-axle sport differential, which uses two gears to distribute power to the wheels. Electromechanical steering comes standard, although Audi offers available variable dynamic steering with a continuously variable steering ratio. The result, testers say, is a balanced, tight-handling car with considerable stability in corners and finely edged precision in all road situations.

Configured for 4 passengers, the interior pampers its occupants, as expected from a luxury sports car with a starting price tag that has six figures, and some testers say it beats the cabins of most, if not all, its competitors. Valcona leather RS sport seats with contrast honeycomb stitching come standard, along with an RS-specific 3-spoke flat-bottomed sport steering wheel. Heated 12-way power adjustable front seats, 4-zone automatic climate control, ambient lighting, and a 7-inch color display are also included in the standard package, along with a 630-watt Bose audio system with 14 speakers and HD Radio. Carbon fiber inlays add to the cabin's luxury feel, with optional upgrades such as an Alcantara headliner available. Like its interior, the RS 7's safety features are second to none and include side and knee airbags.

The RS 7 offers a fairly generous 24.5 cubic feet of storage space, and the 60/40-split rear seatback can expand storage space even further. A large tailgate opening makes it easy to load and unload cargo, resulting in a functional as well as a fast car.

Testers have few complaints about the RS 7, although some say the sloping roofline cuts into headroom in the second row. But when it comes to overall value, given its design, power, handling, and features, the RS 7 gets good marks from reviewers, despite its hefty price tag. Overall, the RS 7 makes the case as a sensible family car on the weekdays, while unleashing its true nature as a highway screamer on weekends.
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Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in California.

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