Audi's A7 four-door 'coupe' model gets the S-badged performance treatment.
At $179,900, the new Audi S7 is technically one of the world's most expensive hatchbacks.
The Audi S7 is the high-performance variant that sits atop the Audi A7 range, just like the closely related Audi A6 and S6 duo – the latter having just launched in Australia with the same potent twin-turbo V8 engine and all-wheel-drive.
Choosing between the Audi S7 and S6 would be a nice decision to make and is likely to come down to taste and whether you occasionally need that fifth seat and the extra boot space.
The S6 is a regular sedan with a normal boot, while the S7 is either a ‘four-door coupe’ liftback or an executive hatchback.
As you might expect, the market for this car is likely to be small, bordering on tiny, so Audi is only importing 50 and labelling the car a limited edition (as is the case with the S6).
The Audi S7 makes an instant impression thanks to its size – this thing is only 20mm short of 5m long. It looks even bigger thanks to that long sloping roofline that slowly tapers down before a minor lift of the built-in spoiler.
Some customers will just love it, although we reckon the smaller S5 actually pulls off the refined-but-muscular-coupe look better thanks to its more manageable dimensions.
Still, there is no doubting the Audi S7 appears expensive, as it should given that it actually is.
The front end is dominated by the traditional Audi mega-grille and cool full LED headlights, which also incorporate distinctive wavy LED daytime running lights.
Wide LED tail-lights add to the impression that this is a very wide car. Standard 20-inch rims fill out the wheel arches.
The key selling proposition to these executive hatchbacks is not just the design, but also the ability to seat four people in luxury.
That sloping roofline means there is a little less headroom in the back, but there is still more than enough even for taller adults and you don’t feel hemmed in either.
There is also a vast amount of legroom too. When it’s this comfortable in the back there is no need to fight to ride in the front.
There is full adjustment for the climate control (it’s a four-zone system) and there are vents in the centre tunnel and also the B-pillars.
The seats are covered in black leather, with silver stitching (which gives it a retro-cool look) and all four seats have supportive side bolsters. The front seats are heated, which is great for the people up front, but given the concept of this as a luxury four seater, the rear passengers should also get cheek heaters.
Matching the S6 interior, the cabin follows the Audi theme of simple elegance and also shares the generous use of real carbonfibre panels on the dashboard and centre console.
Press the ignition button and the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 fires into life. As is the case with the S6, it does produce a healthy deep exhaust tone at idle and low speeds, but isn’t hoodlum loud either.
Using twin-scroll turbos nestled in the Vee of the engine, this unit churns out power with the most minimal delay as they spool up.
With all the force running through four wheels, the Audi S7 takes just 4.7 seconds to charge from 0-100km/h, which is seriously quick.
It’s even more impressive considering this thing weighs 1945kg, despite Audi using aluminium for most panels and suspension architecture.
The torque just keeps on coming. This is just another one of those German performance cars that makes you yearn for an Autobahn. That engine sound builds nicely too. It’s not a pure nuggetty V8 sound, not that we expect it given there are turbos involved, but you can still tell it is a performance V8.
This new engine is the first Audi to run displacement on demand, a system that has been around in other models for years and shuts down four cylinders when the car is cruising.
Audi’s version appears seamless and we certainly didn’t notice when those cylinders were denied fuel and spark.
This, and automatic stop-start feature allows for an average fuel consumption figure of 9.6 litres per 100km, which is impressive given the size/weight/performance of this car.
The Audi S7’s engine is hooked up to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. It allows for crisp and quick changes and is effective in most conditions.
As with all dual-clutch gearboxes, stop-start city driving is challenging and there is the odd delay. As with the S6, there can be some driveline shunt when you re-apply the throttle at very low speeds, which is out of place in a car like this.
With such great performance and a fast-shifting transmission, owners will soon be tempted to head for twisty roads.
They won’t be disappointed, as long as they remember that this is a big beastie.
The size and weight of the Audi S7 means it is never going to be a handling champion, even with airbag suspension that can lower itself by 10mm in the sportiest setting.
You never can forget the bulk working against the S7, although it is by no means a barge.
In fact, the Audi S7 feels slightly easier to turn in than the S6 when we tested both on the same roads.
This doesn’t make much sense as the S7 sits a little higher and is a little heavier than its S6 sibling, although my co-driver and I felt the same way.
Perhaps the wider wheels and tyres (9.0-inch versus 8.5-inch) may play a role.
As is the case with the S6, the Audi S7’s steering is underwhelming.
It really doesn’t give the driver much feel or feedback and feels especially wooden on centre.
The suspension works hard to keep the big Audi relatively flat through corners when placed in the sporty Dynamic mode. You can also go for a comfort setting or an automatic setting.
It is comfortable in general, although the airbags do occasionally get caught out by the odd nasty rut or bump and send a jolt through the cabin.
The Audi S7 is loaded up with the same standard gear as the S6, which means a noise cancelling system that takes out some of the negative sounds and vibrations in the cabin and results in a generally serene experience.
There is also a premium Bose sound system, an automatic opening and closing hatch, digital TV and a heads-up display that projects your speed onto the dashboard.
It has a space saver spare wheel (like the S6) and the boot, while not as flat, is long and has a volume of 535 litres.
However, there will also be some people who are drawn by the elegant and slightly understated design, the ability to seat four people comfortably as well as remarkable straight line pace.