The RS7 was launched in 2014 as a sleek alternative to the RS6 Avant
Fancy a practical, svelte four-door R8? The RS7 has you covered, just don’t expect handling poise
There’s nothing more exciting than stylish practicality. If you want to relax in chic comfort, buy a Barcelona chair. If voguish kitchens are your bag, buy a copper pot rack. If you want a sleek, four-door Audi R8, buy an Audi RS7.
This saloon-hatchback-coupé crossbreed makes you wonder why true sports cars need to exist. It can take four people in comfort and propel them to 62mph in a rival-beating 3.9sec. At full chat and with the £1500 option to delete the 155mph limiter, it will hit 189mph.
Powering the RS7 is a brawny 4.0-litre V8 with all the sonorous fervour of a preacher on a Sunday morning. The twin-turbocharged petrol powerplant, borrowed from the Bentley Continental GT, develops 553bhp and 516lb ft of torque – a considerable 51bhp more than the comparable Mercedes CLS 63 AMG and a tad more than the BMW M6.
So, it has the performance; but with the RS7, you don’t need to be travelling quickly to be impressed. Its refined yet boisterous come-on-if-you-think-you’re-hard-enough looks make it appear like it’s going fast even when it’s at a standstill. Much like the R8, then.
Looks are also a reason why you might buy the RS7 over its Audi RS6 Avant sister. While not as practical, the RS7 looks like an Audi A6 saloon that has had a few more sessions in the wind tunnel rather than a cargo-minded estate, which some will prefer.
The results speak for themselves. The RS7 is a striking take on the super-saloon recipe, making it an attractive proposition if you enjoy standing out from the crowd.
In 2015, a facelift brought restyled headlights and nips and tucks to the bumpers to make them a bit more svelte.
And it’s not like a swooping body really impairs practicality: the RS7 still has enough room for the family and, with a hatchback tailgate, a boot that’s big enough to swallow most of their clutter.
Elsewhere, the cabin is adorned with the usual 24-carat quality that we’re used to from Audi, with soft-touch plastics buried in the most unusual places you rarely touch, leather everywhere and the sort of material finish that you would expect to find on a piece of Bang & Olufsen hi-fi (one of which was incidentally a mere £2000 option on the RS7).
On the downside, it is starting to look dated, as many buttons as horsepower and the low resolution of the infotainment infotainment screen’s graphics make it apparent that this is a car from 2014.
Happily, the driving experience on a B-road tries to make up for the outdated interior. Renn Sport Audis have always been point-and-squirt bahnstormers, with as much grip as car-park cachet but not much driver engagement on twisty roads, but the RS7 just about bucks that trend.
It rides beautifully and the clever torque-vectoring system means you’re protected should your talent discover its limit before the car does. If we had to name a downside, it’s that the steering is quite numb.
To summarise, let’s look back at the boxes the RS7 ticks. Stylish? Yes. Practical? Yes. Fast? Yes. A copper pot rack it’s not, but a four-door R8 it most definitely is.
What we said then
6 November 2013: Enthusiasts may bemoan the RS7’s lack of outright engagement, but there’s no denying it’s an enjoyable car to drive, mainly for its sheer pace. [And] for the wider market, the RS7 will be ideal: it’s a stylish car that’s capable of effortlessly and rapidly transporting its occupants and luggage over vast distances.’
An expert’s view
“The RS7 is the RS6 Avant’s less shouty non-identical twin. It’s just as talented but slightly more svelte in appearance and reserved in taste. If you’re after more for your money or can’t quite stretch to your perfect RS6, the RS7 is a great alternative involving little compromise. It offers bombastic performance, a good record for quality and 90% of a brand-new one for less than 50% of the cost. Consumables may be expensive, but for the money there are few finer or faster ways to consume super unleaded.”
Recalls: Between 2014 and 2017, Audi recalled 26,053 cars, including the RS7, to prevent potential turbo failure. Concerns grew that the turbo’s oil strainer became blocked and as a result starved it of oil, leading to severe power loss and engine stalling. The recall affected cars made between 2013 and 2017.
Another recall took place for cars manufactured between July and October 2014. This concerned the auxiliary heater element in the air-con failing, due to an electrical connector not being plugged in correctly, potentially leading to smoldering damage and even fire. Check with an Audi dealer that all the appropriate work has been done.
Engine: The camshaft-adjustment control valve is responsible for the opening time of the valves in the piston to suit different operating conditions. In the RS7’s 4.0-litre V8 engine, these could come loose. Fortunately there’s no specific damage caused by this, however rough running and/or the illumination of a dashboard warning light are signs of the problem.
Tyres and brakes: Being heavy and extremely powerful, the RS7 will likely go through sets of tyres and brake pads and discs very quickly. Before you buy, ensure there’s enough tread in the tyres and that the brake pads and discs aren’t at the very ends of their lives. If they are, this could suggest that the car has been run on a tight budget.
Transmission: Some owners have reported a metallic clanking noise coming from the automatic gearbox. If this occurs during a test drive and the car isn’t under warranty, walk away or budget £5000 for a new unit.
Also worth knowing
A common issue with some Audis is the oxygen sensor needing to be replaced every few years. This is usually given away by an enginemanagement warning light showing. Budget £150 to £250 for this. General maintenance of a car such as this is absolutely crucial. They will likely have been driven most of their life, with owners giving them regular punts down back roads. Therefore ensure the car you’re looking at has a full service history and preferably has been approved by Audi. If not, have it checked over by the manufacturer.
How much to spend
£27,000-£30,000: High-miles ranging from 62,000 to 106,000. They tend to be earlier examples and will most likely have had multiple owners from new. Buy with care.
£31,000-£35,000: With 38,000 to 60,000 miles, these are generally in better condition and often still have warranties. Some facelifted cars will also be here.
£36,000-£40,000: Many facelifted cars, plus some low-mileage, well-maintained pre-facelift models. Mileages range from 27,000 to 37,000. Some sport rare options such as the carbon package.
£41,000-£48,000: Fine examples and mileages as low as 15,000. Well-maintained 2015-to-2017 cars in rare colours available.
£49,000 and above: All facelifted cars made in 2016 and 2017 with low mileages and rare options. One 605bhp Performance Edition car is also available.
One we found
2015 Audi RS7 Sportback 4.0 TFSI V8 QUATTRO, 16,000 miles, £45,975. This dealer-advertised example has far below average mileage and more than £10,000 worth of options.