S7

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2021 Audi S7 Overview

Sad news for those who fancied a fastback filled with fresh fantastic features: the Audi S7 shows up with only slight changes for the 2021 model year. Immediately evident will be the newly standard 21-inch wheels wrapped in summer tires, but quick consumers will also spot the Virtual Cockpit Plus digital instrument cluster and new carbon trim accents inside. And if you’re the type that likes to check every box you’ll be happy to find out that the Executive Package now benefits from adaptive cruise control with active lane assist.

Utilizing the same twin-turbo 2.9-liter V6 as the RS 5, the S7 answers the “no V8??” complaints with 444 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. That’s a 37 lb-ft increase from the old V8, and it’ll manage to launch this luxury tub to 60 mph in just four and a half seconds, thanks to an electric supercharger that stands ready to combat any early turbo lag. Still, that’s a bit slower than before and it’s mostly due to two factors—added weight and a new transmission.

This really boils down to a good news/bad news situation. The bad news is the added weight. A new 48-volt mild-hybrid system plus that electric supercharger are part of the problem here and this S7 weighs more than 130 pounds more than the previous V8 model. There are certainly benefits here, but 130 pounds is 130 pounds.

The new transmission however, can be looked at as a good thing. The V8 S7 had a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that very frankly couldn’t handle the extra torque from the new twin-turbo V6. For that reason, Audi opted for a more conventional eight-speed automatic here that is definitely slower in flat-out operation, but it should be a smoother affair in more sedate situations. The theoretical takeaway here should be a more composed ride around town, and that’s very good news for a luxury vehicle.

This setup also improves fuel economy—earning a four-mpg improvement over the old V8, at 22 combined mpg according to the EPA. All-wheel drive powers every version of the S7, and if you’re looking to get a little extra sportiness (or some help handling all that weight) the S Sport package adds a sport rear differential, four-wheel steering, and a sport exhaust. This changes the characteristics of the car and makes the all-wheel-drive system feel more like BMW’s rear-biased system.

The big advantage of the S7 is its hatchback (“Sportback” in Audi speak) profile. Besides a sexy silhouette, that Sportback provides extra cargo capacity, though it comes at the cost of rear-seat headroom. Here, total trunk capacity lands at a competitive 25 cubic feet. As long as you’re not often carting around taller adults in the back seat, it’s a sacrifice worth considering because the interior of the S7 is a nice place to spend some time.

The 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit Plus is a huge improvement for the driver, while the rest of the infotainment is handled by dual haptic-feedback screens coming in at 10.1-inches for the top screen and 8.6-inches for the bottom. We still feel three screens of this size is simply too much, but with a little seat time, familiarity sets in. A standard 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo provides plenty of sound, but if you jump up from the Premium Plus to the Prestige trim, you can upgrade to a 19-speaker unit that will leave no doubts in the audio department.

In all, the S7 isn’t the fastest, the most efficient, or even the most practical, but it is a contender. If you’re looking to get into a luxury car, it deserves your attention.

Updated

A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.

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