The Audi Sport performance division has a lot of catching up to do if it wants to have the street cred of Mercedes-AMG or BMW M, both of which have worked hard to create aggressively tuned performance versions of nearly every model in their respective brands’ lineups.
2020 Audi RS7 Sportback approach is evidently dead and buried. In fact, one look at the front end of this swoopy five-door grand tourer door suggests that not only is that approach dead and buried, it’s been subsequently exhumed, pulverized to a fine powder and then combusted inside the RS7’s fire-breathing, twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V8.
The RS7’s biggest appearance change is up front, where it now brandishes a bezel-less, oversized, hexagonal honeycomb grille bookended by a pair of massive intakes that stretch upward toward the car’s glowering LED headlamps. In profile, the RS7’s trademark teardrop shape boasts the aforementioned blistered fenders, along with model-specific side sills and unique 21- or 22-inch alloy wheels. Out back, a prominent rear diffuser has a bridge element that serves to emphasize the sewer-pipe-size oval exhaust finishers.
The RS7’s power comes from a revised version of the firm’s 4-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 TFSI unit, with cylinder-on-demand technology to reduce fuel consumption and a 48V mild hybrid system to do likewise.
In purely numeric terms the latest V8 is considerably more potent, with power now up to 592bhp, a gain of 39bhp, and torque of 590lb ft, around 74lb ft more than before. The engine is still attached to an eight-speed tiptronic automatic transmission, with power to all four wheels through a mechanical centre diff and a locking “Sport differential” at the rear axle to apportion drive. The standard torque split is 40:60 front/rear, while the centre diff can delegate up to 70 percent drive to the front wheels or 85 per cent to the rear if the situation calls for it.
The “mild-hybrid” technology is a glorified term for a belt-driven starter-alternator – is primarily there to reduce load on the powertrain to improve economy, rather than providing any real assistance, but combined with cylinder-on-demand tech is good for fuel savings of around a fifth of a gallon every 62 miles. 0-62mph, meanwhile, takes 3.6 seconds, while top speed is limited to 155mph, with 174mph and 189mph raised limiters optionally available.
the RS7 benefits from Audi’s latest, the dual-widescreen system that blends crisp graphics and snappy processing with well-laid-out menus and high degree of customization. There’s a bit of a learning curve and more than a few fingerprints, but combined with a colorful head-up display and Audi’s reconfigurable Virtual Cockpit gauge cluster, the ability to reconfigure and customize this car’s digital environment to one’s personal preferences is all but unmatched. Of course, if you can’t be bothered to learn the ins and outs of MMI, the system also includes wireless and integration — super convenient for Waze addicts looking to keep an eye out for speed traps.
2020 Audi RS7 pricing and fuel efficiency figures haven’t been released for the US, but given where the last one left off, it’s fair to assume a base price in the neighborhood of $115,000 and combined fuel economy somewhere around 20 miles per gallon.