by Jared Rosenholtz
Audi introduced the first RS7 back in 2013. With a few nip and tucks along the way, it has remained relatively competitive in the fast luxury sedan segment. But with BMW and Mercedes each launching all-new versions of their high-powered super saloons, it was finally time for Audi to introduce the new 2020 RS7 Sportback at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show.
It arrives packing similar equipment as before, like a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 and a practical Sportback body style. The RS7 always felt like a consolation prize for not getting the RS6 Avant in the US, but Audi has now decided to sell the wagon alongside the RS7 for the first time ever. So is the RS7 still the go-to fast Audi, or has the RS6 stolen its thunder?
4.0-liter Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
Audi usually likes to play it safe with its standard models like the 2019 A7 Sportback but sportier versions like the S7 and RS7 dial up the aggression. Showing the car in a bold red paint job at Frankfurt certainly helps but the wider stance, flared wheel arches, larger air vents, and hood scoop do a lot to make the RS7 look like a meaner vehicle. As with the previous-generation RS7, the roof curves down to create a coupe-style profile while providing some decent trunk space.
The RS7 Sportback is a bit subdued compared to its wagon sibling without the silver accents on its bumper but it still looks more aggressive than the BMW M5 and the Mercedes-AMG E63. Audi has finally shed its image of being the "sensible German option" and has now added some spice to its RS cars.
After driving the A6, we noted how Audi's latest interior felt functional and luxurious but we wanted to see if it would come alive with future S and RS versions. Well, it was worth the wait because the new RS7's interior looks fantastic. Audi's dual-screen Touch MMI system is easy-to-use and Virtual Cockpit is among the best digital clusters on the market. It has even been improved with RS-specific retro graphics.
As with the exterior, the cabin of a base A7 can feel dull but the RS department has worked its magic with carbon fiber trim, red accents, red mood lighting, a flat-bottom steering wheel, and aggressive sport seats. We dare you to call this interior boring.
Power still comes from a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, which now features a 48-volt mild hybrid system. The hybrid assist smooths the stop/start system and powers the A/C, drives the car at low speeds, and improves performance while boosting efficiency. Output has also increased from 560 horsepower and 516 lb-ft to 591 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque while 0-60 mph is rated at 3.6 seconds.
Audi tends to be conservative with these ratings, so the engine could produce even more power and a quicker 0-60 mph time. The old RS7 also offered a Performance version with 605 hp and Audi is already rumored to be working on a hybrid model with nearly 700 hp.
Audi did not reveal pricing for the 2020 RS7 Sportback or the RS6 Avant but we expect both to remain close to the outgoing RS7's starting price of $113,900. We've already noted the RS6 faces just one competitor, the E63 Wagon, but the RS7 is a different beast. No other car in this segment offers a Sportback body style, which adds tremendous carrying capacity compared to a traditional sedan.
The AMG GT 4-Door is the closest competitor but the V8-powered 63 model starts at $136,500 while the 63 S model costs a whopping $159,000. Just like the last RS7, this new model will offer a unique edge compared to its rivals from BMW and Mercedes-AMG.