In-depth reviews

Audi RS7 Sportback review – ride and handling

Doesn’t drive like the Porsche, BMW or Mercedes, but it does have a balance and feel all of its own

Evo rating
  • Agile, very fast, and more entertaining than you might expect
  • Its mass eventually makes itself felt; RS6 is just as engaging, but more useful

Audi’s performance cars have followed an encouraging trajectory of late, feeling more responsive and interactive than their immediate predecessors even as much of the S range has made the curious move to diesel power.

The RS7, thankfully, continues down its own path. You may well be pointing two tons of metal down the road (2065kg, precisely), but the RS7’s skill is in ensuring it rarely feels this way, through a combination of ample thrust, faithful steering responses and tireless stopping power.

Like other large Audis, the RS7 has a four-wheel-steering system, and it gives the car the agility of something much smaller than its dimensions might suggest. Audi’s behind-the-scenes tweaks have really been working of late, to the extent that the system has no real downsides – it’s manoeuvrable in the city, agile in the country and stable on the autobahn. Steering feel is at a premium, though, and the progressive steering ratio combined with the augmentation of the rear-steer system can make the RS7 feel a bit overzealous initially, forcing you to make multiple inputs going into a corner. While you do eventually tune into the steering, it’s not particularly intuitive.

Under braking and through quick direction changes the RS7’s weight is apparent, but it’s hardly all at sea. You’d have to do something quite foolish to discover any understeer on the road – the rear axle seems to judge your steering inputs well at speed, always ready to assist with whatever the front wheels are doing. 

The two suspension options are rather stark, with air-sprung cars riding superbly and containing body movements well, but leaving that typically disconnected feeling to the road surface that makes the body feel a tad remote at high speeds. RS7s fitted with the optional DRC have no appreciable deterioration in ride quality, but feel through both the seat and steering wheel is more transparent. Lateral support is also improved over air-sprung cars, while losing nothing in the available suspension travel. 

Give it some space and the RS7’s on-the-limit handling balance does reveal itself, and it’s now you discover that while it might veil its balance with huge grip and response, the underlying nose-led feeling remains, but in a far more adjustable fashion than other Audis. Drive it with clumsy inputs and it’ll understeer, but load up the nose and the Sport Differential will apportion plenty of power to the right wheel, subtly but effectively allowing you to rotate the RS7 under power. It’ll never lead to a smokey drift, but it’s fun in a Subaru-on-steroids kind of way, and reveals a chassis more willing to move around than you might expect, especially on low-grip surfaces. 

It’s size and weight make the RS7 quite a dramatic car to do this sort of thing with, but the tireless ceramics and long-legged suspension travel feel immune to punishment, encouraging you to drive harder.

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