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.
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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.
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
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 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.
The most popular competitors of 2020 Audi S7 Sportback: