by Michael Butler
The Audi S7 Sportback returns in the new year with two cylinders missing, but retains all the attitude of models past, and then some. Making use of a 444-hp V6 engine with assistance from a hybrid system, the 2020 S7 offers all the performance of its V8 forbear, but with improved fuel efficiency and almost instantaneous throttle response. This big German also features a luxurious interior space with four-zone climate control and a plethora of displays. Thanks to its cleverly designed hatchback-style liftgate, the S7 also offers more cargo space than any of its competitors and adds to the well-rounded package that is the S7. Stacked with equipment, and a large chunk of safety features, the 2020 S7 Sportback is ready to take on competitors such as the Porsche Panamera with confidence.
We loved the previous S7 for its muscular V8 power, stylish looks, and its uber practical hatchback-style rear end, so the new car has some serious shoes to fill. For 2020, the S7 drops the V8 power in favor of a twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V6 engine mated to a mild hybrid system. As for the rest of the car, Audi has decided to make some notable styling changes and add some extra tech features to the 2020 model. To set itself apart from the rest of the A7 range, the S7 gets S-model bumpers, side sills and quad exhaust outlets, 20-inch twin-spoke wheels, as well as a Singleframe grille, with an aluminum-optic front splitter and side mirrors. Inside, the S7 now has Valcona leather S sport seats with diamond stitching.
If the Audi S7 Sportback were a feeling, it would be the feeling you get when you know someone in a faster car is coming up behind you on the freeway. Audi has come up with a hybrid creation that is part professional executive on their way to a very important board meeting, and part autobahn hooligan. The sharpened face of the 2020 S7 Sportback looks more aggressive than ever thanks to the addition of an S-Line front bumper and slanting HD Matrix LED headlights. The side profile is an interesting one: at a glance, you'd think the S7 is just an ordinary sedan, but look closely and you'll spot one of the S7's greatest party tricks: its hatchback-style rear power liftgate. This nifty addition slopes down the back and finishes off in a uni-light taillight setup with four aggressive-looking tailpipes protruding from the rear diffuser. The car rolls on a set of standard 20-inch five twin-spoke alloy wheels. All in all, it looks great: part business, part heavy bomber.
Classified as a five-door liftback executive car, the 2020 Audi S7 Sportback measures up to competitors such as the 2020 Porsche Panamera. With a total length of 196 inches, the S7 Sportback is 2.8 inches shorter than the Panamera, and rolls on a 115.3-inch wheelbase. Its sleek profile is made possible by a low height of 55.8 inches. With the wing mirrors included, the S7 Sportback is 83.4 inches wide, narrowing to 75.1 inches when they are folded in. The front track is 65.1 inches in the front, and 64.4 inches in the rear. The S7 Sportback tips the scales at 4,597 pounds.
The A7 has always gone the route of the cool executive, and doesn't shout about its achievements or abilities, but rather lays down the facts with stone-cold efficiency. This mentality, and design language lends itself to a palette of more mature colors. So what does Audi offer? Well first off you can have the 2020 S7 Sportback in your choice of Brilliant Black or Ibis White at no cost. We think the S7 looks very Agent Smith in black. The rest of the range will cost you extra - colors such as Avalon Green Metallic and Navarra Blue Metallic will set you back $595, as does Tango Red, Firmament Blue, and Florett Silver. Audi also offers exclusive special paints available at $,3900. Give us one in gray or silver.
For 2020 Audi follows the same path as so many of its competitors by cutting cylinders and introducing hybrid power as a supplementary power source. So it might have lost two pistons and a handful of horsepower, now standing at a respectable 444 horsepower, but what it loses there, it more than makes up for in the torque department thanks to the hybrid system. What does all of this mean in the real world? Firstly, the 2020 S7 Sportback will rush to sixty in only 4.5 seconds, a respectable achievement for such a land yacht, and will continue on to a limited top speed of 155 mph. Interestingly, the European S7 gets diesel power, and will hit the zero to sixty mark a whole 0.6 seconds slower than the American version. Out on the streets, the S7 is deceptively fast thanks to a quiet cabin and smooth ride. Stomp on the gas pedal, and before you know if you'll be looking at a hefty fine or even some jail time. Power delivery is instantaneous, and the S7 is an absolute hammer out on the highway. There's no doubting the fact that the 2020 S7 Sportback is a seriously fast car.
The big news here is the fact that instead of being powered by a burly 450 hp V8, the 2020 Audi S7 Sportback opts for a smaller capacity 2.9-liter V6, and employs the help of a twin-turbo setup, as well as a 48-volt mild hybrid system and an electric supercharger. The end result is a total power output of 444 hp, six hp down on the V8 car, and 443 lb-ft of torque, which is 37 lb-ft of torque more than you got in the old car. What makes this number even more impressive is the fact that all that shove is available from low down in the rev range. Combine this with the instant response from an electrically powered compressor, and you have yourself a powertrain that pulls from the word go without a hint of turbo lag, and continues to steamroll through the midrange with unrelenting force. The added torque provided by the V6 engine means that the old dual-clutch seven-speed transmission wouldn't cut it anymore, so for 2020, power is channeled to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. It might not offer razor-sharp reactions, but it's quick enough in this application, and offers a relaxed drive when not going at full tilt.
First thing's first: the S7 might be a more focused driving machine than the standard A7, but it still weighs over 4,500 pounds, and there's no way of getting around that fact. Around town, that weight is not as noticeable, and cruising around at lower speeds is a comfortable affair. Steering is well-weighted and doesn't require any major effort to point the S7 in the right direction. Out on the highway, the S7 feels well-planted and smooth. Add to that a beautifully insulated cabin, and the S7 turns into a convincing GT cruiser. Steering feel at higher speeds gets progressively heavier but never feels unnatural. When it comes to taking on some tighter bends at speed, the S7 manages to keep itself composed and flat on the tarmac. Corner exit speeds are monumental, thanks in part to the legendary quattro system at work, but the S7 can't hide its weight. On top of that, the disconnected steering and slightly muted engine tone makes for a less enthralling drive. The Porsche Panamera dominates in this field.
Purists will lament the fact that the 2020 S7 Sportback has lost its V8 heart, but science and logic trump the heart in this case. The V6 engine and mild hybrid system not only delivers razor-sharp throttle responses but also helps cut down on fuel usage when not driving with a heavy foot; this big bruiser will manage a respectable 18/28/22 mpg city/highway/combined. That's not bad for a large executive sports car, but it can't match the BMW 840i Gran Coupe with its 22/29/24 mpg. Fitted with a 19.3-gallon fuel tank, the 2020 Audi S7 Sportback should see 435 miles on a single fill.
Leave it up to Audi to design one of the coolest looking interiors in the executive car class. Sure, it might not be as emotive as the Mercedes-AMG CLS53, but it has its own charm in a sci-fi kind of way. Step inside the cabin and you'll get the sense that the S7 is all about getting the job done: it's all about cold and clinical surfaces and a dashboard that resembles spaceship control boards from the year 2037. We adore the flush panels and minimalist look. The panoramic sunroof allows the S7 to really show off how spacious it is, and lightens the blacked-out space. Visibility out the front is good, but that slanting rear end makes spotting cars and inanimate objects difficult. Some notable interior features include four-zone automatic climate control, ambient LED interior lighting, and heated front seats with power lumbar adjustment.
You won't find a set of hardcore bucket seats in the 2020 Audi S7 Sportback, instead, you are enveloped in luxurious leather seats that offer enough bolstering for aggressive driving, but suit the S7's cruising capabilities better. Occupants in the front are treated to heated, 12-way power-adjustable sport seats with four-way power lumbar adjustment, and the driver seat comes with a memory system as well. Five adult passengers will have no problem fitting inside the S7 Sportback. Headroom in the front is 37 inches, and to our surprise, the sloping rear end doesn't detract from the back seat headroom all that much - there's a whole 37.1 inches of it, only an inch behind what's available in the A6 sedan. Legroom in the front is 41.3 inches, and those in the rear get 37 inches.
When Audi designs and builds interiors for its S-line of cars, you better believe it's going to be class-leading stuff, and the choice of materials and trim inserts is some of the best we've come across in this class. All S7 Sportback cars come fitted with Valcona leather seats with diamond stitching which certainly looks the part. Also standard is the natural Gray Brown Fine Grain Ash wood inlays, and illuminated stainless-steel door sill inlays. The Valcona leather seats can be had in Arras Red with Agate Gray stitching, Black with Rock Gray stitching, or Rotor Gray with Anthracite stitching. Brushed Aluminum inlays are also on offer.
For executives going on extended business trips across state lines, or for the active person who loves driving fast, but also has three dogs that need walking, the S7 Sportback provides the perfect answer. You see it's all in the name: the S7 Sportback sports a hatchback-style liftgate that opens up high and wide, and endows the S7 with class-leading trunk and cargo space. With the rear seats in the upright position, the 2020 S7 Sportback offers up 24.9 cubic feet of space, completely eclipsing cars such as the Porsche Panamera that only offers 17.6 cubic feet. With the rear seats folded down, you'll easily fit two to three midsize Golden Retrievers, or enough snowboarding gear for two (humans). Small-item storage is good as well, there are deep door pockets front to back, a decently sized center console storage box, as well as a storage nook next to the shifter, and a sliver of a glovebox.
The S7 has always been one of the most technologically advanced cars in the Audi lineup, and this year's model is no different, packing a range of luxury features that would satisfy the needs of even the most demanding customers. So it's safe to say that the standard feature list is decent. Comfort features include four-zone automatic climate control, a heated three-spoke steering wheel with shift paddles, a panoramic sunroof with power sunshade, ambient LED interior lighting, and heated leather front seats with twelve-way power adjustment. Prestige models add dual-pane acoustic glass, heated rear seats, and manually-adjustable rear sunshades amongst others. Standard driver assistance features include cruise control, a top-view camera system, and lane departure warning. Prestige models add rear cross-traffic assist, traffic jam assist, and vehicle exit warning, amongst others. Optional extras available for the S7 Sportback include heated and ventilated 18-way power individual contour front seats, and Prestige models can be fitted with night vision assist that picks up humans and large animals before they get turned into mincemeat.
Being the tech nerd that it is, the S7 Sportback comes with all the infotainment bells and whistles, so much so that the layman might get overwhelmed by all the information and customization on offer. Things start off with a beautifully crisp set of centrally mounted display screens: there's a 10.1-inch upper, and 8.6-inch lower display that feeds the driver and front-seat passenger with all important information regarding music, climate control, and other settings. The MMI navigation system features voice control, but we found it to be iffy at best, and would recommend using native Apple or Google navigation instead. Audi also includes it's Audi connect care and Audi connect prime services on a trial basis. Also included is your standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Integration, as well as Bluetooth streaming along with two front USB charging ports and SiriusXM satellite radio. Listening to Money by Pink Floyd sounds crystal clear thanks to the backing of a 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen 3D premium sound system.
Audi prides itself on building quality cars, and the S7 is a prime example. No recalls have been issued for 2020, and 2019 cars also have a clean slate. There has, however, been one recall issued in June of 2018 that affected certain 2018 model cars. The recall was issued due to a faulty passenger-side airbag. Audi covers the 2020 S7 Sportback with a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, a 12-year/unlimited-mile corrosion warranty, a four-year/50,000-mile drivetrain warranty, as well as an eight-year/100,000-mile hybrid and electrical component warranty. You also get a one-year/10,000-mile maintenance plan and four years' worth of roadside assistance.
No one likes to see an AWD high-performance Audi being smashed into a solid piece of concrete, so the NHTSA and IIHS has graciously declined to do so - but that leaves us with the question of how safe the S7 really is? The answer lies in the more humble A7's IIHS score: the A7 managed to bag a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS, which indirectly means that the S7 should be one of the safer cars on American roads. We trust that Audi has gone above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to keeping its customers as safe as possible.
With the A7 scoring an impressive Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS, it would be safe to assume that the untested S7 should offer the same, or even better levels of safety, thanks to performance features such as larger brakes and a fine-tuned suspension setup. Audi has also packed the S7 with standard driver assistance features, especially on the top of the range Prestige model. Standard on all S7 Sportback cars is a six airbag system, cruise control, park assist with front and rear sensors, as well as a top-view camera system, lane departure warning, and light and rain sensors for the LED headlights and window wipers. Prestige models feature advanced systems such as rear cross-traffic assist, vehicle exit warning, a head-up display with navigation display, and adaptive cruise control. Night vision assist will cost you an additional $2,500.
It's easy to say that a car is great because it can go fast in a straight line, or because it's cost effective, but when you start dealing with cars in the league of the S7, things start to get a bit more complicated. Does its interior feel as well put together as its competitors? Or can it match its peers in terms of driver enjoyment? The lines start to blur in the S7 Sportback: it is a car of many talents. The new powertrain setup might not have the glamour of the old V8, but it delivers its power more efficiently, and without a hint of turbo lag. The interior is a thing of modern beauty, despite not being as provocative as its competition from Mercedes-AMG. Out on the road it pulls like a freight train, and is comfortable to boot, but we can't help but think that it is a bit too refined and disconnected from the driver. The levels of tech are also impressive, perhaps to the point where it can become a bit overwhelming. Audi has put together a highly accomplished package that offers so much to so many, but at the end of the day, it lacks a certain something that all the tech systems in the world can't provide: a soul.
The simple truth here is that asking for a premium product will demand a premium price, and Audi isn't shy to drop the bill on anyone who's asking. The base S7 Sportback TFSI quattro Premium Plus Tiptronic goes for an MSRP of $83,900, excluding tax, registration, and a destination fee of $995. That's over three grand less than an entry-level Porsche Panamera. For the top of the range TFSI quattro Prestige Tiptronic, Audi asks a cool $89,500. Tick the right options, and you'll end up with a price tag north of $100k.
The 2020 Audi S7 Sportback is available in either Premium Plus or Prestige trim levels. Powering the 2020 S7 is a twin-charged 2.9-liter V6 engine producing 444 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. Standard exterior features on the base model include 20-inch twin-spoke design wheels, HD Matrix LED headlights, an adaptive rear spoiler, and a power rear liftgate. Prestige models add soft-closing doors. The interior is offered with standard features such as four-zone automatic climate control, a frameless auto-dimming interior rearview mirror, a panoramic sunroof, and 12-way power-adjustable seats in the front. Prestige models add dual-pane acoustic glass, heated rear seats, and a manual rear window sunshade. Standard safety features on the base model include a top-view camera system, lane departure warning, and auto forward braking. Prestige models add active lane assist with emergency assist, side assist with rear cross-traffic assist and vehicle exit warning, as well as adaptive cruise control with traffic jam and predictive efficiency assist, and a head-up display system.
If you like your features with added features, the S7 has just the thing for you: from performance features to better-looking wheels, there's something for everyone. The base model is available with packages such as the $1,750 Black Optic package, which adds 21-inch Audi Sport five-V-spoke-star design anthracite diamond cut wheels, summer performance tires, and high-gloss black exterior details. Also available is the S Sport package, which adds a sport rear differential, dynamic all-wheel steering, red brake calipers, and a sport exhaust system for $4,000. Getting behind the wheel of the Prestige model doesn't mean you can't have more nice things: why not go for the $3,000 black Alcantara headliner, or the $2,500 Night Vision Assist package?
Since you're only paying $5,600 more for the range-topping TFSI quattro Prestige Tiptronic, we'd skip the formalities and just go straight for the jugular. The Prestige is powered by the same 2.9-liter V6 and hybrid system, uses the same transmission, and shares the majority of its features with the humble Premium Plus, but adds some notable extras. The exterior sees the addition of power soft-closing doors, while the inside gets contour LED interior lighting, dual-pane acoustic glass, heated rear seats, an air quality system, and a manual window sunshade. You also get an extended leather package that covers the dashboard, armrests and center console. On the safety side, the Prestige adds goodies such as a head-up display, rear cross-traffic assist, and traffic sign recognition.
The simple act of adding an "R" to the name equates to an additional two cylinders, and nearly 150 hp. The RS7 is a beast from hell dressed up in a suit and tie. Under the hood lies a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 that produces 591 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. This means a zero to sixty sprint time in the low three-second mark, and mid gear acceleration that will make you spew your breakfast. It is made obvious from the start that the RS7 is the more focussed performance car: the exterior looks meaner, and the interior gets sporty touches. The RS7 might not be as relaxed as the S7 while cruising around town, but it can still pamper to a certain degree. We love how insanely fast it is, while at the same time offering tons of trunk capacity, and an uncanny ability to offer both docile cruising and furious drag pulls in one breath. The S7 is a noticeably milder version, and we think it will suit the majority of fans better.
Porsche stepped out of its comfort zone when it first released the Panamera, and after going through some growing pains, has finally found comfort in its own skin, and is now considered to be one of the best cars in its class. The S7's competitors here would be the Panamera 4S AWD, which is powered by a similar 2.9-liter turbocharged V6 engine producing 440 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. Porsche knows how to put down the power, so despite having less torque on tap, the Panamera 4S AWD feels every bit as fast. It's through the bends that the Panamera shows off its trump card: it is the best handling car in its class, and where the S7 feels disconnected, the Panamera makes the driver feel as one with the car. The interior is well appointed, and features a similarly cool-headed design. The Porsche cannot, however, match the Audi for standard features, and also fails to improve on the S7's massive trunk capacity. If it's driving fun you're after, get the Porsche.
Check out some informative Audi S7 Sportback video reviews below.