Regardless of any religious connotations, seventh heaven has been described as getting to a place where you’re in a state of intense happiness; a state of utmost bliss and although it may seem a little odd, quite frankly, that’s how I found myself when I got behind the wheel of Audi New Zealand’s new RS 7 Sportback.
I say ‘odd’ in so much as this beast of a car houses one of Audi’s most powerful V8 engines ever so my sense of bliss was hardly what you’d call ‘calm’ but there’s something about the way this sedan looks, handles and feels that instilled intense happiness.
Having just jumped out of Audi New Zealand’s RS6 Avant, the RS 7 was very familiar. Looks-wise it shares the same menacing face, complete with a nod to 80s Quattro, a singleframe grille, huge air-gulping vents and matrix, laser headlights. It also boasts 22-inch feet with slithers of rubber, large red RS brakes and extended wheel arches to cover them both. But from there on in, the design is all RS 7.
The sloping roofline tapers down to its lengthy Sportback that by the way, possesses a retractable spoiler that shows itself when the speedo needle heads high up north (or via a touch of a button on the MMI system). LED’s make up the tail light cluster and spreads the full width of the rear, while quad sports exhaust tips are encased into two oval surrounds. Admittedly it’s not as dramatic as the RS 6’s tail but with a carbon fibre lower framing and that all-important RS badge, it’s more than striking.
Under its powerdome bonnet lies a clever 4L V8 twin-turbo engine that’s ultimately been built for speed and yet has a highly efficient side to it too. 441kW and 800Nm may be the output numbers but it’s the 0-100km/h in 3.6 seconds (that’s possible faster than you can read that sentence) and 250km/h (limited) that are the figures to really put a smile on your face. To add to that smile is the fact that you don’t have to stop every 5-minutes to fill up, I have had this engine supping fuel at a mere 8.7l/100km (Audi claim 11.4l/100km) thanks to its 48v mild-hybrid and cylinder on demand (COD) smartness.
Despite having an exterior design that looks ‘track-ready’ and an engine to support that view, the RS 7 is also very luxurious and dare I say it, practical. The luggage compartment has a base size of 535L and can be expanded up to 1,390L when you drop the seats. The rear space is roomy enough for three (if one of them is small) but upfront is where the fun really occurs.
All the RS 7’s furniture is leather, however, the driver and passenger sports seats are RS embossed (and electric adjustable and heated…) the dashboard trim offers a tactile open pore carbon fibre feel with piano blacks and chrome where expected. Ambient lighting can be adjusted to suit your mood or your shirt and the MMI system showcases more bells and whistles than a railroad trip across America.
Driver and safety aids are too numerous to print but the 3D animation in parking view is more fun than my son’s (ok my) PlayStation and with live traffic and weather you never need to be late or caught in the rain.
Then there’s the all-important drive modes, but in particular RS1 and RS2. In the car set up, you can individualise your driving preferences for RS1 and 2. Basically setting up this beast of a Sportback to perform the way you like it (steering, sound, handling, acceleration etc) and these two modes are then accessed via an RS button on the D-shaped steering wheel.
With my work piling up and plenty more coming in, I did the only rational thing, grabbed the keys to the RS 7 and headed north in search of winding roads and open spaces – you see writers need to clear their heads sometimes (or any other excuse like that). And it’s in those the country roads that surround Warkworth that I truly found my Audi RS 7 bliss.
The RS 7 is a shade over 5m long but in RS mode it feels like a compact. The Quattro drive system has you sticking to the road like things shouldn’t to blankets and the V8 accelerates without a hint of any lag. Gear changing by the 8-speed tiptronic is seamless, however, should you want to have some loud interaction with the exhaust note, I recommend the use of paddles.
Overtaking is a breeze, long straights are an easy way to get demerit points and corners are there to be embraced with open arms and a tight grip on the wheel. The pulse races and the mind clears of the daily trivia that bombards you.
People go to great lengths to get to their seventh heaven, seeking out health spas and retreats in obscure places across the globe. I found mine thanks to Audi New Zealand and their new 2021 RS 7 Sportback, it’s a truly enlightening experience.