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In-depth reviews

Audi RS7 Sportback Performance 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

Amazingly, the RS7 rides really nicely even on the optional RS Sports Suspension Plus with Dynamic Ride Control (horizontally opposed dampers are connected hydraulically to create additional damping force and reduce pitch, roll and dive), and the electronically adjustable dampers and steel springs provide a much greater sense of connection and control than the standard air springs.

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In Comfort mode, the RS7 Performance is a shade louder and the engine certainly feels more present than before, but it’s still a deeply refined car; and there’s a palpable sense of massive potential just lurking beneath the surface.

Not everything is rosy, though. The four-wheel steering certainly makes manoeuvring very easy but the rack is too light, conveys very little real information and creates a jumpy, unnatural feeling. It improves as you ramp up through the modes (there’s Efficiency, Comfort, Auto and Dynamic, plus customisable RS1 and RS2 options) but the digitised sensation never disappears entirely.

Similarly, body control is lacking in Comfort mode when you start to push, but cycle up to Dynamic and the ride deteriorates markedly, the supple, light-touch character becoming stiff and the car skittering across crumbling roads.

Our test car was equipped with Pirelli P Zero tyres rather than the vaunted new Continental SportContact 7s mentioned in the press material, but grip and accuracy are not lacking. Just as before, the outright balance on the road is fantastic. The steering is perhaps a bit too quick for such a big car but it does create fantastic responsiveness, and whilst the ride can be unforgiving the body stays spookily flat.

Understeer? You’ll simply never encounter it on the road with 285/30 ZR 22 tyres. The RS7 just grips and goes where it’s pointed. In fact, the Sport Differential makes the RS7 Performance feel more tail-led, as it pins the front axle to the road every time you load it up with torque. It’s a lovely sensation. If only that athleticism was followed through at the limit.

The M division’s xDrive system is now the benchmark in this space and its natural, progressive feel easily shades the RS7’s tendency to hang on hard, then tie itself in knots as it shuffles grip around. Where you crave fluidity, instead there’s an oddly jumpy, uncomfortable feeling as each corner fights for traction. Efficient but brutal, and at odds with the RS7 Performance’s usual MO.

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