2016 Audi RS6 and RS7 Performance: Track Review

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There are some cars that simply can't be properly tested on the road. Two that immediately spring to mind are the 2016 Audi RS6 Performance and 2016 Audi RS7 Performance.

So with scientific testing in mind, we drove to Victoria's Phillip Island to properly assess both models. Don't mistake this scientific testing for fun — despite the fact it was sunny, and we were on a world-famous GP race circuit.

This review covers the track performance of both the RS6 and (20kg lighter) RS7 Performance. While you'll have to wait for our on-road drive thoughts, this component of track testing well and truly cemented our thoughts on both models.

Firstly, what has changed? The RS6 and RS7 Performance models both replace their respective non-Performance siblings, which means the RS6 and RS7 are both no longer available for sale.

This means a price increase — $16,290 for the RS6 Performance and $16,390 for the RS7 Performance. New pricing now sits at $245,400 and $258,000 for the RS6 and RS7 Performance respectively, both before on-road costs.

But, don't despair. The new pricing brings pretty impressive power and torque increases for both models. Each variant's 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine now makes 445kW of power (up 33kW) and 700Nm of torque. The torque figure goes even higher between 2500-5500rpm courtesy of a new overboost feature that increases peak torque to 750Nm.

Staggeringly, fuel economy has only increased by 0.1L/100km to 9.7L/100km and 9.6L/100km respectively.

Arguably, though, the most impressive part is the acceleration increase. The 0-100km/h time has improved from 3.9 seconds to just 3.7 seconds for both models — that's without an official launch control function.

These incredible power and torque figures come courtesy of an unconventional design that sees the two turbochargers sit inside the engine's 'vee' formation. This configuration helps with thermal efficiency and helps keep the RS6 and RS7 Performance models EU6 compliant in terms of emissions. The engine also uses Cylinder on Demand (CoD) technology that is able to shut down cylinders 2, 3, 5 and 8 while active. This helps reduce fuel consumption.

Top speed on both models is electronically limited to 250km/h. But, as with most things, those with a need for excess can unlock this to an astonishing 305km/h (that's 190mph) courtesy of the optional Dynamic Package Plus.

Standard features across both models include: RS adaptive air suspension, digital TV reception with DAB+ digital radio, quattro sports differential, sports exhaust, heads-up display, front and rear parking sensors with 360-degree camera, panoramic glass sunroof (panoramic glass only on RS6 Performance), RS leather-clad steering wheel, matrix LED headlights and electrically operated tailgate with gesture control.

Exterior changes include a titanium-look exterior finish with accents across the single frame grille, front spoiler and air intake changes, new mirror caps, window surrounds and rear diffuser. There are also a new set of 21-inch alloy wheels to finish off the design changes.

Cargo capacity on both models is great with 565 litres available in the RS6 Performance and 535 litres in the RS7 Performance.

Enough about cargo capacity, I'm sure you're more interested in how these cars go at a race track.

Each vehicle tested was fitted with carbon ceramic brakes. These are a $20,940 option. It's worth noting that two performance packages are available to buyers — the $4900 Dynamic Package and the $25,840 Dynamic Package Plus. The former adds dynamic steering and RS sports suspension with dynamic ride control (this feature deletes air suspension and instead uses a diagonal hydraulic link between the front and rear dampers) and increases the electronic speed limit to 280km/h.

The latter includes all features in the Dynamic Package but further increases the speed limiter to 305km/h and adds carbon ceramic brakes. The carbon ceramic brakes, which feature cross-drilling measure a whopping 420mm at the front with eight-piston callipers, while the non-carbon ceramic steel brakes come in at an equally-impressive 390mm and feature cross-drilling. The rear brakes sit at 370mm in diameter with four pistons for the carbon ceramic option and 356mm with four pistons for the steel option.

Both brake packages use a new wave design that sits between the two-piece rotors. This design is used to help reduce heat retention and weight.

The now standard sports exhaust sounds absolutely awesome and gives the V8 a meaty bellow that really helps it stand out.

As we exited pit lane and moved on to the front straight of the Phillip Island race track, my heart began to pump faster as the pace picked up. After our initial sighting laps, we got out there on our own and set our own pace.

Immediately obvious is the composure and ease the RS6 Performance displays. The steering is direct and extremely communicative, while the steering wheel sits perfectly in the hand.

We left the gearbox in 'S' mode, which allows the vehicle to hold gears and move back through the gears with pops and crackles when required. While you can also use the paddle-shifters mounted to the steering wheel, there's genuinely no point.

As the first lap drew to a close, we pinned the throttle to the board as we entered the front straight. The speedometer read 260km/h+ as the twin-turbocharged V8 moved through its eight available gears.

That speed is mind boggling and the composure and accuracy was even more impressive. Our first proper go at the brakes into turn one returned strong pedal feel as we washed off around 80km/h, and moved through just shy of 180km/h.

The level of grip is absolutely prodigious. Even with the air suspension package, the RS6 Performance sits fairly flat through trailing corners. Through tighter turns it also remains composed but needs to be setup well in advance to ensure it can hook up on the exit.

When I say that carbon ceramic brakes can withstand a battering, let me put this into context. The group of journalists rotated between the RS6 and RS7 Performance track vehicles from around 9AM through to 5PM. During this time they were doing sets of five track laps with no speed limit. They would only ever stop briefly when coming into the pits, or for fuel on occasion.

Each time we jumped onto the anchors at the end of the front straight into Doohan Corner, into turn four or deep into the descending hairpin at the bottom of Lukey Heights into turn 10, they would bite with tremendous accuracy. We were seeing speeds in excess of 250km/h along the front straight, so it was reassuring to know that we could rely on the giant brakes.

Our next stint on track was in the RS7 Performance with the optional Dynamic Package Plus, which deletes the air suspension and adds a diagonal hydraulic link between the front and rear dampers.

While the change to the ride is immediately obvious — it feels firmer in comparison to the RS6 Performance with air suspension — it's the handling that is transformed. With air suspension the RS7 could feel a bit floaty and had noticeable body roll at times.

The body with the package fitted, though, essentially sits dead flat and relies more on the tyres to get it through a corner. In both models, the quattro sports differential does an awesome job of tucking the nose in and preventing understeer.

As long as you remain committed to the throttle, the car's mechanical differential and electronic driver aids bring the front end around to prevent understeer — it's truly a unique experience.

The quattro all-wheel drive system is able to split torque 85/15 between the rear and front axles, with 60/40 rear/front the regular operating split. The tyres measure 285mm wide with 30 profile all round for the RS6 Performance and 275mm with 30 profile all round for the RS7 Performance.

To really put the RS6 Performance to the test, we used the front straight of Phillip Island to measure how long it would take to go from standstill to 100mph and then back to zero.

With only a couple of minutes to perform the tests with a 5pm curfew lingering, we managed a best time of 13.5 seconds. What does that mean?

To put it into context, that time makes it quicker than a Ferrari F40 and a Lamborghini Murcielago. The 0-60mph time was 3.9 seconds (which is around .3s off the official figure). Given more time, we're confident we could have shaved the 13.5 seconds down to around 13 seconds. It's seriously incredible stuff.

We've always thought that the RS6 and RS7 were capable performance vehicles. This track test at Phillip Island has confirmed that the RS6 and RS7 Performance variants really are unparalleled in this segment. They offer utterly blistering straight line performance that is matched with incredible cornering dynamics.

Click on the Photos tab to see more images of the Audi RS6 Performance and Audi RS7 Performance.

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