Is this a car or is it Satan incarnate? 

Cruising on the highway, pulling away from traffic lights, putting your foot on the gas at any stage, the Audi RS7 Sportback tempts and teases you to go a little faster.

“Is that all you’ve got?” it whispers at me. “Are you a man or are you a muppet?”

“No,” I reply. “The speed limit is a serious thing.”

“A little faster won’t hurt anyone. I’ve looked, there are no cops for miles.”

“Maybe a little faster, then. But you scare me.”


This conversation is repeated ad nauseam every time I drive this brutal, wonderful machine.

The Audi RS7 is an apex predator. Its savannah is the super-fast highways of Europe, where it will purr along at 200km/h or more and shred anything in its path. But on New Zealand’s third-rate roads, it is terrifying.

I really do love it.

With  441kW (600hp) of grunt under the bonnet and a strong race pedigree, the RS7 is all about power. But it accelerates so smoothly and so quickly, it is easy to lose sight of how fast it’s going. Inside the cabin, you feel yourself accelerating, sure, but its refinement means you don’t quite understand how quickly you are moving away from the Porsche in the rear-view mirror. 

Doing 110km/h on State Highway 1 south of Hamilton, the car is using 7 percent of available power and 3 percent of available torque. I don’t think I got over 10 percent on either measure at any stage. This car will go like the wind on a straight, but also corners like magic. It hugs the road as tightly as The Rock’s t-shirts hug his body in any of his movies.

This is one of those awesome expensive cars that has no faults. The interior is beautiful, the seats are comfortable even on long drives, the electronic controls are intuitive and the other controls and assistants are plentiful. 

This paragraph is supposed to be the one after the bountiful praise that says, “But if there’s one thing…”, except I don’t have a criticism. It is phenomenal and I dearly want to drive one on a racetrack, or on the autobahn. Stupid virus.

The looks are aggressive and showy, but not so much that I attract tonnes of attention. The rumble from the exhaust turns heads, though.

The RS7 can get from a standing start to 100km/h in 3.6 seconds and has a top speed of 250km/h. It is powered by a 4-litre twin-turbo engine coupled with a 48-volt mild hybrid system. In a beautiful piece of German understatement, the Audi website claims it has “more than enough power at all speeds”. Well, exactly.

There’s an eight-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission and the Quattro four-wheel-drive system.

The hybrid system means that when coasting on the motorway at up to 160km/h, it doesn’t even need the petrol motor. 

The RS7 has Audi’s standard comfort levels (dynamic, comfort and economical).  I don’t bother touching them. The automatic mode works fine.

But engine tuning is different. Audi has a lot of options on these RS models.  (The RS cars are specced-up versions of normal production cars.) The options are:

Standard – pretty much as you’d expect.

Sport – like trying to control a rocket ship.

RS (racing sport) mode – it honestly comes with a warning that it is not to be used on an open road. I presume this is universally ignored. My teenage son made me turn it off after 30 seconds and then detected that I’d quietly turned it back on 30 minutes later.

Price, you ask? It costs $228,000 as standard.

But wait, there’s more. For $11,000, you can include the RS Dynamic package, which pushes the top speed to 280 km/h. 

If money is no option, you can get the “night-vision assistant” or the “RS ceramic brakes with callipers in glossy red”  for $25,000 – that’s the same price as the new Toyota Yaris GR. This is reputedly the most powerful braking system in a production car anywhere in the world. 

Other options available for the RS7 are fairly limited because pretty much everything is included already — lane-change assistance, 360-degree camera, adaptive cruise control, front/rear obstacle warnings. The stereo from Bang & Olufsen is the best system I have heard in a car, or almost anywhere. Eric Clapton is singing Layla inside my head.

The unobtrusive heads-up display is very good, and features Audi’s excellent navigation control as a visual indicator of the road and/or intersection ahead.

The conclusion

Driving a car this capable is not for the faint hearted. And possibly not for New Zealand roads. But it is more than capable as a day runner and would be awesome if you ever got it on a track. Don’t buy it to show off – buy it because you have spare cash and you really love a pinnacle technical experience. 

The RS7 is a wonderful perfect balance of poise and power – with more than enough aggression to keep the devil in all of us happy.