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Thursday, May 10, 2018

2018 Audi S7 Review

2018 Audi S7 Review
The Audi S7 and RS 7 are like habanero and ghost peppers—among the hottest cars you’ll find anywhere.

Room for five people and their gear in a supercar? The 2018 Audi S7 and RS 7 are up to the task. Go ahead; have your cake and eat it too.


Its basic design is beginning to age, but it’s doing so remarkably gracefully, which is why we’ve rated this desirable duo an exceptionally high 8.4 out of 10.

For 2018, there’s little change to note aside from redesigned wheels on both models and a new sport exhaust for the RS 7.

Both models are based on the Audi A7, itself a desirable and different luxury car spawned from the far more conventional A6 sedan. But where the A7 boasts a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6, the S7 uses a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 rated at 450 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. The RS 7 ups that to 560 hp as well as 518 lb-ft of torque in standard tune, or an astounding 605 hp and 553 lb-ft on the RS 7 Performance. If you’re popping for the RS 7, you might as well go all the way, right?

Regardless, both models shuttle power to all four corners via an 8-speed automatic gearbox and have firm but not punishing suspension settings. Their luxurious interiors start as the standard A7 but differ in some trim finishings and the design and upholstery of their seats. The RS 7, with a few options, can become downright gaudy, however, so shop carefully.

What sets these two apart from rivals like the Audi S6, the BMW M550i and M5, and the Mercedes-AMG E43 and E63 is their hatchback configuration. A sloping roofline means that they’re a little tight in the rear seat and not quite as roomy as, say, a station wagon, but they still offer more utility and a sexier shape than you’ll find in a regular sedan.

Both models come well-outfitted with features but offer even more tech for an extra cost—but the sky’s really the limit on the RS 7, which can be built up to more than $150,000 with every option box ticked.

Styling
There’s not a prettier face—or tail—in a car that seats a full complement of adults and holds their luggage.

Take a sexy hunchback shape and add a little more aggression: there’s the Audi S7 and RS 7. They differ just a little in their details, but we’re so smitten with both that we’ve assigned them a 10 out of 10, our highest possible score. 

And it’s easy to see why. There’s a simplicity and elegance in their designs lacking in rivals, even when they’re all dolled up with aggressive body kits. From the front, the S7 isn’t much different than Audi’s S6, which has a meaner snout than the basic A6. The difference starts with its roofline that dives more aggressively toward an elongated tail that tapers off gently into clean tail lamps. The RS 7 doesn’t differ dramatically, but its front and rear fascias are slightly more aggressive and it has its own wheel designs. For 2018, a sport exhaust system is standard on the RS 7 and it includes big quad tailpipes that definitely mean business.

Inside, both cars again start with the A7’s base and pile on more luxury and unique finishes. We’re not totally sold on the diamond pattern leather upholstery, but it is at least bold and innovative.

Performance
Aside from limited steering feel, the Audi S7 and RS 7 are some of the best-handling and strongest-performing cars you’ll find today.

Both the 2018 Audi S7 and RS 7 start with a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8, but how they go about their business is what sets them apart from one another. But there’s more to just engines here, which is why we’ve awarded even more points for the cars’ handling, their ride qualities, and their transmissions, which elevates them to a 9 out of 10. 

The S7’s 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 is rated at 450 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, while the RS 7 ups that to 560 hp plus 518 lb-ft of torque in standard tune, or an astounding 605 hp and 553 lb-ft on the range-topping RS 7 Performance. Even the S7 moves with authority and refinement, while the RS 7 predictably elevates that sense of alacrity from any speed. Opt for the RS 7 Performance and you’ll be rewarded with blistering acceleration and an exhaust rumble almost too good to be true.

The V-8 is mated to an excellent 8-speed automatic transmission that seamlessly shuttles power to all four corners via Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system, but cold-climate drivers should be aware that they’ll need to opt for winter tires for at least part of the year if they want to actually drive anywhere.
Those engines are matched to stellar handling and accurate, albeit light, steering. They grip for days and their adaptive suspension systems are remarkably adept at smothering out broken pavement even with their 19-inch (S7) and 20-inch (RS 7) alloy wheels.

Comfort & Quality
Utility and performance? Count us in.

A two-fold story inside, the Audi S7 and RS 7 look and feel every bit the ultra-luxe, high-performance part—as long as you’re not in row two. We’ve given them extra points for their gorgeous materials, their comfy front seats, the way they feel upscale in every way, and their above average cargo utility. But a tight rear seat dings a point, sending them down to a still respectable 8 out of 10. 

The basic A7’s goodness is intact here, except wrapped in more sumptuous materials. The leather’s a step above, the wood trim is just a bit more interesting, and the finishes take things to another level. Better bolstered front seats make the most out of every corner these two attack, but you’re going to want to be up there and not in row two, where the sloping roofline limits access and head room.

On the flip side, the S7 and RS 7 are hatchbacks, which means they can lug much larger cargo loads than most sedans. You’re not going to fit great-grandma’s steamer trunk back there, but you can fit a bicycle with its front wheel removed with ease, something we can’t say about many sedans.

Safety
Tick a few options boxes and the Audi S7 and RS 7 will do their very best to keep you out of harm’s way.

Neither the 2018 Audi S7 nor the 2018 Audi RS 7 have been crash tested yet, but they come equipped with collision-avoidance tech.

Given they haven’t been smacked into a wall be either the IIHS or the NHTSA, we can’t assign them a score here, however. 

That said, both models come from the factory with the requisite full complement of airbags and stability control systems, plus blind-spot monitors, and rearview cameras. Given their sky-high price tags, it’s something of a surprise that automatic emergency braking requires ponying up for an extra-cost option, but at least some ultra-high tech equipment like night-vision cameras are on the options list.

Features
There’s something for everyone with the well-equipped Audi S7 and RS 7.

There’s something to be said about a high-end car that allows an extra degree of personalization. No, Audi won’t upholster your new RS 7 in the hide of an endangered species, but they’ll match your poodle’s favorite squeaky toy—for a price, of course. Given that customizability, plus these high-end cars’ generous standard equipment, their high-tech infotainment systems, their available Google Earth imagery, and Audi’s traditionally top-notch service, they’re an easy 10 out of 10. 

The S7 comes in Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels, while the RS 7 is available as a standard or Performance model. They’re well-equipped from the get-go, but there’s enough optional equipment to make each your own.

In addition to its more powerful V-8 and a more buttoned-down suspension, the RS 7 builds on the S7 with standard navigation and low-speed automatic emergency braking.

All come standard with Audi’s MMI infotainment system controlled in part by a touchpad that acts more or less like what you’ll find on a laptop computer. The system may seem daunting at first, but its myriad menus are easy enough to sort through after some acclimation.

Audi also fits as standard its Google Earth-based mapping system, which delivers crystal clear imagery of where you are right now to the pop-up infotainment screen in the center of the dash.

Fuel Economy
For what they are, the Audi S7 and RS 7 are reasonably thrifty.

The 2018 Audi S7 earns 16 mpg city, 24 highway, 18 combined ratings from the EPA.

Frankly, those figures aren’t bad at all for a high-performance car, so the 6 out of 10 we’ve scored these two shouldn’t be a major red flag for most buyers. 

A start/stop system works fairly unobtrusively to cut the engine out at traffic lights to reduce fuel consumption, but it’s worth noting that the EPA doesn’t factor this into its consumption test.

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