Audi has a way of being a little stingy with their RS high performance models from Audi Sport, even more so here in the states; offering only certain models for limited amounts of time. This RS 7 5-door coupe for instance, hasn’t been available to us since 2018; but it’s back! And bringing with it a whole new level of Audi performance.
For 2021, Audi has unleashed a trio of forbidden high-performance fruit to us here in the U.S. An RS 6 Avant wagon, our first-ever Audi Sport SUV the RS Q8, and this beautiful RS 7 Sportback.
This is the 2nd gen of the RS 7; and when the 1st one arrived for 2014, it was the most powerful Audi you could buy, eclipsing even the R8 supercar.
Audi has a long history of performance of course, first experienced by us at MotorWeek with the 1983 Audi Quattro. This now-legendary Audi 80-derived “performance car with a difference” set the standard for the many all-wheel-drive high strung cars that would soon follow. Its fully-independent suspension, and all-wheel-drive grip, even enabled a speed record through our emergency lane change maneuver. Oh, and it did all that with only 156-horsepower.
That would never do these days, so the RS 7 over-delivers with 591-horsepower and 590 lb-ft. of torque; coming from a new 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8.
Both numbers almost 150 more than you get in an S7.
It works with an 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission; and is still honoring that original Quattro, with a quattro badge that of course signals AWD on any Audi today.
We could spend all day talking about turbos and quattros, but Mason Dixon Dragway awaits...
Here, the RS 7 is both simple and brutal. Initiate launch control, and there’s an explosion of power to all 4 wheels, making it leap off the line in a slightly unpredictable manner, hitting 60 in just 3.3-seconds.
But, it quickly settles down, rifling through gears, headed to an 11.5-second ¼-mile at 123 miles-per-hour.
Even on an extremely windy day that would unsettle some cars; not the RS 7, it just hunkers down and steamrolls the track, feeling better and better the faster you go. It’s made for high speed Autobahn runs for sure.
But will certainly hold its own through the Alpine passes as well. It is a big car; over 16-feet of length and 4,800-lbs. Yet, it is so quick to respond to steering inputs, that it can again catch you a little off guard. It does provide loads of feedback, enabling you to steer with the throttle as much as the wheel, allowing for a bit of oversteer, instead of the typical quattro push.
All of this on our test car’s winter tires; we expect even better results with the summer performance tires that are standard on the RS 7.
It’s also equipped with RS-tuned adaptive air suspension and all-wheel-steering.
Upgraded brakes too of course, RS-spec ceramic discs; painted calipers bite down hard, bringing this weighty beast to a halt from 60 in just 111-feet.
Outside, the hood, roof, hatchback, and front doors are all shared with the S7, but front fenders and rear quarters get a wide-body design. Audi’s Singleframe grille has a gloss black honeycomb treatment; while the rear transforms with an active lip spoiler, gloss black diffuser, and big oval exhaust tips.
Inside highlights include Valcona leather sport seats, RS steering wheel with bigger aluminum shift paddles, and unique performance displays in Audi’s virtual cockpit.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are a thirsty 15-City, 22-Highway, and 17-Combined. We averaged 17.8 miles-per-gallon on Premium.
That’s a well below average Energy Impact Score; consuming 19.4-barrels of oil yearly, with 8.4-tons of CO2 emissions.
Being a special version of a very special German luxury car, a high price of entry is to be expected; here that means $115,045.
With all of its high performance abilities, the best thing about the 2021 Audi RS 7 is that it still behaves like a true high-tech luxury car that you want to spend loads of time in; not a comfort-challenged track day star that just puts up better 0-60 numbers.
There are a lot of places to spend your high performance dollars these days; but few that will give you the total posh performance experience that is the Audi RS 7.
Engine: 4.0L Twin-Turbo V8
Torque: 590 lb-ft
0-60 mph: 3.3 seconds
1/4 Mile: 11.5 seconds @ 123 mph
EPA: 15 City / 22 Highway / 17 Combined