The 2013 Detroit Auto Show played host to the unveiling of Audi’s latest RS-badged weapon of mass seduction. The RS 7 Sportback is the new top-spec version of the A7 line, kicking the S7 Sportback into a distant second place. The heart of the car is a 4.0 litre, twin-turbocharged V8 engine which has been tuned to provide 560-horsepower and 553 lb-ft (700Nm) of torque. With this, the RS 7 Sportback manages to shave a full second off the 0-62 mph (100km/h) time when compared to its S-badged brother, managing the sprint in just 3.9 seconds. The top speed is equally impressive, with the Dynamic Plus Package fitted, Audi will rip out the electronic bureaucrat which normally reigns in the car at 155 mph, and allow it to run all the way to 189 mph.
But its not just the mighty V8 up front that makes the RS 7 Sportback so quick off the mark. Part of the credit should go to the 8-speed tiptronic transmission with reduced shift times and three-mode settings; ‘Sport’, ‘Manual’ and ‘Drive’. And of course it wouldn’t be fair to ignore the quattro permanent all-wheel drive system with torque vectoring and a sports differential.
Amazingly, despite its searing performance, the Audi RS 7 Sportback is able to return 28.8 mpg according to the combined cycle test. It manages this through a combination of an engine stop-start system, and a cylinder deactivation system which shuts down cylinders 2,3,5 and 8 when the car is cruising at a steady speed. The switch between four and eight-cylinder operation takes just a few hundredths of a second, and the only real indication to the driver that it is taking place is a visual signal within the instrument cluster.
The quattro AWD system of the RS 7 Sportback is complimented by an adaptive air suspension system with RS-specific settings. The specially tuned set-up lowers the body by 20 millimetres, and incorporates damping with configurable settings. As an alternative, sports suspension plus with Dynamic Ride Control (DRC) will also be available. This system employs steel springs and three-way adjustable shock absorbers that are interconnected diagonally by means of oil lines and a central valve for improved body roll stability.
Both set-ups are controllable via the Audi drive select adaptive dynamics system, which enables the driver to choose between Comfort or Dynamic modes depending on their preference, or an Automatic mode in which sensors automatically adjust the settings based on driving style, speed and prevailing conditions. An Individual mode is also available in which the driver can assign one of these three settings to each individual component of the driving experience, from the suspension or steering weighting to the throttle response and the sport differential.
For braking the Audi RS 7 Sportback employs four internally vented discs with a weight-saving wave-like outer contour. The front discs measure 390 millimetres in diameter and are gripped by six-piston calipers which are available in either black or red. Also available as an option are carbon fibre-ceramic brake discs with anthracite grey calipers which measure 420 millimetres in diameter.
The RS 7 Sportback is available in a choice of ten exterior colors, including the new shade Nardo gray and the exclusive finish Daytona gray, matt effect. Two styling packages – matt aluminum and carbon – further customize the appearance. With these, the front center air inlet also sports a quattro badge. With the carbon styling package, the front splitter and the diffuser are somewhat more boldly shaped. Other options include the exterior mirrors with exposed carbon housings and the all-LED headlights, whose designer trims are tinted for a unique look.
On the inside the car features suitably sporty design touches. The dial instruments have black faces, white scales and red needles. A 3D RS 7 logo in the tachometer is a further accent. The key, the flat-bottomed, three-spoke leather steering wheel, the illuminated door entry sills and the displays for the MMI and driver information system also sport RS badges. The driver information system includes a shift light, which indicates when the rev limit is reached. Displays for boost pressure and oil temperature plus a lap timer round out the RS 7-specific menu.
RS sport seats with pronounced side bolsters, integrated head restraints and RS 7 logos are standard. They are covered in a combination of black Alcantara and leather, and the center sections feature diamond quilting. The seats can also be covered alternatively in high-grade, honeycomb-quilted Valcona leather in either black or lunar silver.
The Audi RS 7 Sportback comes with a long list of standard equipment, including xenon plus headlights, a tire pressure monitoring system, the parking system plus, three-zone automatic air conditioning, cruise control and the Audi sound system. High-end options include a head-up display, a comfort package, the dynamic package and the dynamic package plus.