2016 Audi RS7 Sportback Performance Review

Who would have thought this thing needed more grunt? But here it is, the 2016 Audi RS7 Performance...
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As if the insanely fast Audi RS7 Sportback needed any more grunt. Well, according to the brand from Ingolstadt it did, and the result is the brutal new 2017 Audi RS7 Performance.

With more power and more torque than the standard RS7, the new Performance model takes the five-door swoopy Audi coupe even further into supercar territory. Like it's bearing down on the supercar scene like it bears down on lane hogs on the autobahn... and that's speaking from experience, as we drove this RS7 Performance model from Munich down to Italy and back, and it felt so at home on the fast-moving roads of Germany that we wish we'd never left the confines of that country. That's coming from a guy who loves nothing more than thin-crusted minimalist pizza and coffee that comes in a small cup that you stand up to drink.

Back to the Audi, which has a list price of $258,000 plus on-road costs ($16,390 more than the standard RS7 we've reviewed in the past), and it sees a few changes over that model - read the full pricing and specification story here.

In short, though, we're talking about a stonking 445kW of power, 750Nm of torque and a head-spin-inducing 0-100km/h time of just 3.7 seconds. Top speed? A measly 305km/h.

Those figures are up from the standard car's puny 412kW and 700Nm and its snail's-pace 3.9sec 0-100km/h time. Did you sense the sarcasm?

All that from a vehicle that tips the scales at a not-inconsequential 2030 kilograms. It's almost as if physics doesn't apply to this 'bahnstorming behemoth.

The 4.0-litre twin turbo V8 engine was already superb, but in this thing it's even more immensely satisfying.

There's just so much urge. When the little speed limit indicator disappears from the head-up display (it can read speed signs, even the ones that are just a circle with lines through it) and you plant your right foot, the amount of thrust and traction is mind-boggling. From 120km/h you will smoothly and surely hit 200km/h - in sixth gear in the transmission's Sport mode - within seconds. And you don't even need full throttle, such is the magnitude of the available propulsion. There's just so much power - before you know it you're pushing into Aussie jail-time territory on the speedometer.

And the noise - that noise. That raspy, pop-and-crackle, raucous and rambunctious cacophony that fills the atmosphere is just so damned addictive. It is enough to give you blisters on your ear drums. And I know that sounds incredibly painful. But those are the sort of blisters I'd love to have every single day.

The eight-speed auto transmission is exceptional for the most part, but it can be a little slow when manually downshifting at big pace. In auto mode, though, it seems to know what is required.

But perhaps the most amazing thing about the RS7 Performance is that it can be as sharp as a scalpel, or as smooth as a butter knife. It's that duality that makes the RS7 - whether you buy the Performance or the regular model - so impressive - it's a consummate highway cruiser, but also a mind-bending cornering bruiser.

To be fair, it's better at accelerating out of corners than it is at slowing down into them. Not that braking is a problem, with the optional ceramic brake package on our test car proving to be a must for buyers who want the most out of their money.

No, corners are when physics catch up with the RS7 - when the going gets tight, there's no hiding the mass, or the sheer size, of the car. Remember, it spans 5.01 metres long and 1.91m wide (2.13m including the mirrors). And the quattro all-wheel-drive underpinnings mean you are likely to experience some understeer in the tighter corners, and even some very minor torque steer, too.

The AWD system allows you plenty of cornering grip and immense amounts of traction when you're accelerating out of the twists, though, and in flowing bends it is incredibly rapid from point to point.

The brakes are amazing at speed and great as you come in to corners, but our test vehicle exhibited some embarrassing squelching around town which isn't uncommon for vehicles with the carbon compound brakes and makes for some stares from members of the public for the wrong reasons.

We certainly had plenty of looks (of the good kind!) due to the eye-catching Ascari Blue paint and the guard-filling 21-inch wheels clad in trusty Pirelli P-Zero rubber, but some of those glances were almost certainly down to the low and sleek sled-like profile of this roomy four-seater super saloon.

Our tester had the RS performance design package with a gorgeous blue honeycomb carbon fibre twill, as well as Alcantara just about everywhere you cast your eye. We couldn't get enough of the diamond-stitched seats, either, and there's excellent bolstering and adjustability for the driver, too.

Those front seats are heated, but not cooled, and the two bucket-style rear seats offer good space for adults or children. We had three on board and a bootload of luggage, and while the roofline does impact the space available in the rear, there's always the RS6 Avant station wagon for the more pragmatic buyer. (For what it's worth, I would have the RS6 over the RS7 any day of the week).

In terms of technology, the RS7 Performance isn't quite as modern as it could be. There's no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity, for example, and it misses out on the brilliant Audi Virtual Cockpit display, too.

In conclusion, the Audi RS7 Performance is essentially a supercar in a swoopy sedan body, and the truth is that Audi probably didn't really need to add even more power but we're sure glad the company did. And while some buyers in Australia may never get to experience the true power and brutality the RS7 Performance has to offer due to our strict, somewhat comically low speed limits, we'd strongly recommend a track test to see what it has at its disposal.

Click the Photos tab above for more images by Igor Solomon and Matt Campbell.