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Audi RS7 Performance 2016 review

New Audi RS7 Performance offers searing pace and a comfortable ride, but it can't hide its handling shortcomings

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

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At this price, splashing out £6,575 extra on the RS7 Performance is unlikely to put potential buyers off, and they’ll get a sharp-looking four-door coupe that will leave most of its rivals standing. Its all-round ability as a high-performance luxury family car is excellent, as long as there’s only four of you, but it doesn’t have that last degree of handling involvement to make it a great driver’s car.

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Audi's RS department really does have performance in just about every size and shape. Whether you prefer the storming RS3 hot hatchback or the RS6 Avant super-estate, there's something for everone, and sitting at the top is the RS7 Sportback. However, if the 'standard' RS7 Sportback isn't quite hardcore enough for you, try the recently introduced 'Performance' version.

On the RS7 Sportback, Performance spec commands a £6,575 premium over the standard car, taking total outlay to a substantial £92,060. But what do you get for the extra money? Well, from the outside, there’s a titanium grey finish for the wing mirrors, window trim and grille, while larger 21-inch alloys are fitted as standard.

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Inside, there are more subtle updates. Privacy glass is standard, as is part leather/part alcantara trim. Carbon fibre inlays with blue highlights are also included, but you can change these to aluminium for no extra cost. 

However, the most important updates are under the skin, where the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 has been revised to boost power from 552bhp to 597bhp, while a new sports exhaust enhances the engine’s soundtrack. This set-up shaves two-tenths of a second off the 0-62mph time, with the RS7 Performance completing the benchmark sprint in only 3.7 seconds.

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The car is still electronically limited to 155mph, but for £1,450 you can raise the limit to 174mph, while adding the £10,725 Dynamic package Plus ups this again to a frankly astounding 189mph. This pack also includes 20-inch ceramic brakes, sports suspension and dynamic steering.

On the road, the RS7 delivers the kind of all-round performance that we’ve come to expect from Audi’s RS models. The Drive Select system allows you to switch between settings to tailor your car for cruising comfort or focused driving, and in Dynamic mode, the car comes alive with instant responses and plenty of pops and bangs from the exhaust as you rush through the gears.

There’s 750Nm of torque for instant overtaking, while the ride on the standard air-suspension is surprisingly comfortable even in the sportiest settings. Sure, bumps are felt in the cabin, but the RS7 doesn’t have a spine-shattering ride like some fast family cars.

The rapid steering rack reacts instantly to your inputs, but there isn’t much feedback through the wheel, so you’re left wondering exactly what the front wheels are doing. While the four-wheel-drive system delivers lots of grip, this lack of feedback means you can’t make the most of the power on offer.

Perhaps the RS7’s best feature is the fact that you can dial everything back and simply cruise along in refined comfort, knowing that its vast performance is available at the press of a button.

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Senior test editor

Dean has been part of the Auto Express team for more than 20 years, and has worked across nearly all departments, starting on magazine production, then moving to road tests and reviews. He's our resident van expert, but covers everything from scooters and motorbikes to supercars and consumer products.

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