We've had to wait a while to conduct our review, but the 2021 Audi RS7 Sportback has finally arrived on US shores, and it's something special. It was supposed to be here as a 2020 model, but the pandemic delayed it. Nevertheless, with a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 under the hood that is shared with the more aggressive-looking RS6 Avant, the wait has been worthwhile. Producing 591 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque, this is a luxury performance fastback that few can keep up with. Combined with Sportback practicality and drop-dead gorgeous looks, the RS7 is a difficult combination to outdo.
However, the RS7 is not without competition. The Porsche Panamera Turbo and Mercedes-AMG GT63 S are just as impressive when it comes to insane acceleration, and both offer tons of tech. Each of those rivals has something special that sets it apart, so is the Audi capable of convincing buyers to look towards Ingolstadt for their fast four-door fix? More importantly, is the cheaper RS6 the real threat to the RS7's potential sales success? We spent a week with the 2021 Audi RS7 Sportback to find out.
The Audi RS7 is an all-new model for 2021, replacing the first-generation model that wowed us with stunning styling and stupendous speed. Everything is new, from the three screens in the cabin to the aggressively widened bodywork that makes the regular A7 Sportback look a little tame. Audi now pairs the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system, improving the stop/start smoothness.
See trim levels and configurations:
|4.0 TFSI quattro||
4.0L Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
The RS7 excels as a highway missile and performs adequately as a backroad barnstormer. But, if we're being honest, options like the BMW M8 Gran Coupe, Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S, and Porsche Panamera are more thrilling to drive at the limit and would be our choice for a romp around a race track. Fortunately for Audi, most people don't live on race tracks, and the RS7 is by far the most comfortable of this bunch. Audi vehicles are notorious for understeer due to the placement of the engine ahead of the front axle. While the new RS7 doesn't completely alleviate this issue, the quattro system, sport rear differential, and dynamic all-wheel steering system combine to provide a much more balanced driving experience. If you push the RS7 hard enough, the sport differential can send up to 85% of the power to the rear wheels and up to 100% of that power to either the left or right wheel, inducing a bit of oversteer. It's a clever trick that alleviates much of the RS7's inherent bias towards understeer. Our test car came equipped with the option carbon-ceramic brakes featuring massive 10-piston front calipers with 17.3-inch rotors. These carbon stoppers bring the RS7 down from insane speeds in a hurry and are among the best brakes we've ever tested in a vehicle like this.
That being said, we best enjoyed the RS7 at a moderately fast past, not driving at the ragged edge. The steering is quite sharp and precise, though it feels too light to get a perfect handle on what the front end is up to. Drivers can switch between comfort, auto, dynamic, and efficiency modes, plus a configurable RS1 and RS2 mode with steering wheel buttons once they've discovered their perfect setup. Even in the heaviest setting, we found the RS7's steering to be too light. On the plus side, the standard five-link adaptive air suspension is compliant even in its firmest setting, making the RS7 a more comfortable cruiser than any of its rivals.
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
In the time since the original RS7 launched, the fast four-door luxury segment has exploded with new options. What helps the 2021 Audi RS7 stand out is a svelte shape, simple yet effective cabin design, heaps of practicality, and supreme comfort. With a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 shelling out performance that will pin occupants in their seats, there's little to complain about in the performance department. That being said, some buyers might prefer the more extreme approach taken by the Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S. The RS7 feels a tick slower and less athletic than some rivals, but these shortcomings are more than made up for with stellar comfort and practicality that trumps its competitors.
Yes, it's a pricey car, but when compared to its rivals with their numerous configurations all offering varying levels of luxury or technology, the RS7, with its almost fully loaded standard configuration and similar asking price is actually a good buy. In addition, the RS7 has the added benefit of being the new kid on the block, and who doesn't want a car that isn't on every street corner - especially when it can slay some supercars? We love it. Oh, and did we mention this car also has a wagon sibling?
Although not really a direct rival, those looking for a premium luxury sedan with earth-shattering power and luscious luxury may be considering the BMW M5. This car is available in two trims, with the 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 in the base model producing 600 hp and the same engine in the Competition model promising 617 hp. It, too, comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission and AWD, but unlike the Audi, this car can send its power to the rear wheels alone. Pricing isn't that much of a factor, but the Bimmer is a little cheaper. That said, maybe this is because it doesn't have such a tech-forward cabin. It's still highly advanced and extremely luxurious, but those attracted to gadgets will likely prefer the Audi. As a driver's car, the BMW offers more thrills and better balance, but a test drive may be required for you to make a definitive choice.
With an asking price in the six-figure range before any options have been selected, the RS7 is not a cheap vehicle. If that kind of money seems too ridiculous to spend on an Audi, perhaps the cheaper S7 is more up your alley. It starts at $84,400 and has the same sleek fastback look, albeit with a little more restraint in terms of overall styling. This model comes with a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 that makes 444 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. Like the RS7, it comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission and AWD. It also gets the same three screens in a similar cabin. Although it is slower, it's not a sleepy car. Thanks to its more economical engine, you should get close to 100 miles more range per tank. Still, although the S7 is excellent, the RS7's performance and styling justify its premium - in our book at least.
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Check out some informative Audi RS7 video reviews below.