Combining seductive curves with slingshot performance, the newcomer uses twin-turbo V8 power to send its acceleration time plunging to just 3.9 seconds and its top speed climbing to 189mph. It also employs advanced cylinder-on-demand technology to ensure that economy holds true to Audi efficiency ambitions, with up to 28.8mpg possible despite the ferocious pace.
Available to order in the summer of 2013 priced in the region of £84,000 OTR, and due in the UK towards the end of the year, the RS 7 Sportback shares its 4.0-litre V8 TFSI engine with the recently announced RS 6 Avant. This means that with the help of its two turbochargers formidable peak power of 560PS arrives between 5,700 and 6,700 rpm, and peak torque of 700 Nm is constantly available between 1,750 and 5,500 rpm.
The two large twin-scroll turbochargers located, along with the intercooler, inside the ‘V’ of the cylinder banks, produce up to 1.2 bar of boost pressure, helping to generate incredible accelerative force. The RS-specific engine management and unthrottled intake system also contribute to the engine’s dramatic response, and this is delivered with all the charisma expected of a V8. Switchable flaps in the exhaust system can make the sound even fuller at the touch of a button, and customers seeking an even more dramatic drive can choose a sports exhaust system from the options list.
‘Standard specification’ in performance terms for the new RS 7 Sportback – although anything but standard – is a phenomenal 0-62mph acceleration time of just 3.9 seconds and a governed 155mph top speed. Customers with Autobahn aspirations can increase the latter to 174mph by specifying the optional Dynamic package, and boost it even further still with the Dynamic plus package, which calls a halt to acceleration at 189mph.
Despite performance of this magnitude, the RS 7 Sportback nevertheless manages to maintain a firm grasp on reality where economy is concerned. Thanks partly to an engine start-stop system and innovative thermal management technology, but primarily to the new engine’s cylinder on demand (COD) system, it can cover up to 28.8mpg according to the combined cycle test. At low to intermediate loads and engine speeds, the cylinder-on-demand system shuts down the intake and exhaust valves of cylinders 2, 3, 5 and 8. The engine then runs as a four-cylinder until the driver demands strong accleration. Efficiency in the active cylinders is increased because the operating points are displaced toward higher loads.
The switch between four and eight-cylinder operation takes just a few hundredths of a second, and the only real indication to the driver that it is taking place is a visual signal within the instrument cluster. The COD technology reduces ECE fuel consumption by roughly five per cent. Even greater savings of approximately 10 per cent are possible when driving at moderate speeds. Active engine mounts use out-of-phase counter-oscillations to compensate for the vibrations that occur during four-cylinder operation.
The 4.0-litre TFSI is paired with the familiar, and highly favoured, eight-speed tiptronic transmission featuring shortened shift times and offering ‘Sport’ and ‘Manual’ modes in addition to the standard ‘Drive’ setting. For manual shifts drivers can use the paddles on the steering wheel or the RS-specific selector lever. The lower gears of the tiptronic are tightly spaced for optimum performance, while a tall eighth gear reduces fuel consumption.
In the RS 7 Sportback the quattro permanent all-wheel drive system which is one of the hallmarks of the RS lineage incorporates torque vectoring, a self-locking centre differential with an elevated locking value and a sport differential on the rear axle to distribute power steplessly between the rear wheels.
The body plays a major role not only in the handling, but also in heightening the sense of refinement and precision engineering the RS 7 Sportback exudes. It comprises roughly 20 per cent aluminium, and a sizeable proportion of components made from high-strength steel, and is notable for its outstanding rigidity.
Numerous RS-specific design details subtly embellish the body without detracting from its elegantly tapering lines. Most noticeable are the matt titanium applications, the high gloss black honeycomb radiator grille, exclusive bumper design and, at the rear, a diffuser and two large, elliptical exhaust tailpipes. In common with the other members of the A7 Sportback range, the RS 7 Sportback is also pinned more securely to the road by an electrically extending rear spoiler providing additional downforce.
Nine exterior colours, including the new Nardo Grey and the exclusive Daytona Grey matte, will be available, along with two optional exterior design packages – Matt Aluminium or Carbon – which give the RS 7 Sportback an even more distinctive stance.
The interior of the RS 7 Sportback conveys the sporting theme with similar subtlety, but leaves passengers in no doubt that they are travelling in a very special Audi flagship. RS logos appear in the dials with their black faces, white dials and red needles, on the flat-bottomed three-spoke multifunction steering wheel, in the illuminated entry sills, in the rev counter and in the displays for the MMI and the colour Driver’s Information System (DIS). They are also punched into the front RS super sports seats with their pronounced bolsters, integrated head rests and honeycomb-quilted Valcona leather upholstery. The two-seat rear bench also has pronounced contours for optimum grip. A combination of Alcantara and leather can be specified as a no-cost alternative upholstery option, and power-adjustable front comfort seats can also be added at extra cost to replace the more overtly sporting RS originals.
Available to order in the UK in the summer priced at approximately £84,000 OTR