by Jay Traugott
Those who believe the luxury sedan is living on borrowed time are sorely mistaken. While sales are down in general, we are nowhere close to doomsday. Luxury crossovers are currently selling better, but there are still plenty of buyers who prefer sedans. And leave it to the Germans to, once again, create a new sedan niche that's less traditional and far sexier: the four-door coupe. The new 2020 Audi S7, like the standard A7, is based on the A6/S6 which both feature the familiar three-box design. The S7 is its naughtier sibling. The first generation A7/S7 launched back in 2010 while the second-gen A7 arrived for 2018. However, its 3.0-liter TFSI V6 with 335 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque simply isn't powerful enough for some.
That's where the new 2020 S7 comes into the picture. Not only is the S7 more powerful, but its suspension and chassis have been retuned and the exterior and interior have received some special modifications to give its own unique flavor. None of this comes cheap, however.
Audi is currently in the midst of an exterior design revolution thanks to chief designer Marc Lichte. In the past, Audi was criticized for its so-called "Russian doll" styling; all of its sedans looked more or less the same, regardless of size. Not anymore. Today's Audis have far more attitude thanks in part to a new front grille design theme that gives the vehicles the appearance of a wider stance. Combined with sharper angles and more chiseled lines, Audi exterior design is finally a standout. The 2020 S7 is no exception. Compared to the A7, the S7 is fitted with S-model bumpers, side sills, and a quad exhaust system.
Along with standard 20-inch wheels, 5-twin-spoke wheels (wearing summer rubber), a platinum double-slat front grille, aluminum-optic front splitter and side mirror housings, and a rear diffuser inlay covered in black chrome matte, the S7 looks both sporty and luxurious. If none of this is enough, buyers can tack on the black optic package featuring a black exterior kit and 21-inch 5-V-spoke star wheels in anthracite. HD-Matrix-design LED headlights with Audi laser and high-beam assist are also available.
Audi has long been renowned for its high-quality interiors, and the new 2020 S7 is no exception. The driver will be embraced with standard Valcona leather S sports seats with diamond stitching, a driver-focused cockpit, and optional dual-pane acoustic glass. Audi's excellent virtual cockpit comes standard, as does four-zone automatic climate control, a Bang & Olufsen 3D Premium Sound System, top-view camera system with Virtual 360 view, and a dual MMI touchscreen (10.1-inch upper, 8.6-inch lower). The shift knob found in the previous version of this system is gone.
The S7 has seating for up to five passengers, but stuffing three adults in the back seat will definitely be a squeeze.
The US market 2020 S7 has only one engine: the outstanding twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V6 that combines with a 48-volt system for a grand total of 444 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque. Audi claims there is not a trace of turbo lag. Compared to the A7, the S7 has an additional 109 hp and 74 lb-ft. The sole gearbox is an eight-speed Tiptronic unit that distributes power to Audi's familiar Quattro all-wheel-drive system.
Performance? Try 0-60 mph in only 4.5 seconds. In Europe, the S7 is powered by a diesel engine, but America's S7 is still 0.6 seconds faster to 60 mph. Compared to the US market S6, which shares the gasoline engine, the S7 is only 0.1 seconds slower to 60.
Audi equipped the S7 with an S-tuned adaptive air suspension and more powerful brakes for better control when cornering. A sport suspension is optional. There's also the available S Sport Package for enthusiast drivers. This adds a rear-axle steering system, a Quattro sport differential, performance exhaust, and red brake calipers.
There has never been such a thing as an inexpensive new Audi. The 2020 S7 continues that tradition. The "base" Premium model begins at $84,895 while the Prestige will set you back by at least $90,495. Both prices include destination fees.
To help some buyers better stomach those figures, rest assured the 2020 S7 is also a very safe vehicle. An entire suite of safety and driver assistance features come standard, such as adaptive cruise assist with traffic jam and turn assist, vehicle exit warning, and side assist with rear cross-traffic assist.
Obviously the 2020 Audi S7 is not the definition of affordable, but there's still very a market out there for it. While Audi doesn't offer a precise sales breakdown between the A7 and S7 (it combines them), it's wealthy customers are anxious for four-door coupes. Although last year's A7/S7 sales were rather disappointing with just 3,852 units sold, back in 2012 they reached 8,598, but it slowly dwindled down from there. The arrival of the next generation models could not have come at a better time.
Although neither the A7 nor S7 are niche models, they do have a slightly more limited appeal over, say, the A6 and larger A8. A four-door coupe is aimed at the individual who heavily values style. There's no question the 2020 Audi S7 offers that along with extremely impressive performance and handling capabilities all in one (expensive) terrific package.