We get behind the wheel of the new flagship Audi S7, which gets a hi-tech V8 engine for huge pace
In isolation, the S7 is superb. The engine is smooth, fast and efficient given the power on tap, and the car can switch from comfortable cruiser to a stiff sports saloon at the touch of a button. It certainly has the desirability factor, too. Our only concern is that Audi hasn’t done enough to differentiate the flagship from the rest of the A7 range.
Large S-badged Audis have a reputation for being fast, but not particularly fun to drive. So could the all-new hot four-door coupe, the S7, be the car to break the mould?
It has all the ingredients to succeed. The engine is the VW Group’s new 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 (which also features in the mechanically identical S6 and S6 Avant). This delivers 414bhp and 550Nm of torque to all four wheels via a seven-speed S tronic twin-clutch gearbox and sports differential, and takes the car from 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds.
Unleash the S7 in a straight line and the acceleration is truly ferocious, with not an ounce of power wasted through wheelspin. There’s also a gentle growl from the exhausts, although we’d have preferred a more raucous exhaust noise from a car this fast.
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How the S7 behaves in corners is entirely up to you. Audi’s Drive Select system is standard and lets you tweak throttle response, gearshift points, steering weight and suspension stiffness.
The difference between the softest and most extreme settings is bigger than you’d expect, so the S7 is quiet and comfortable for everyday use on all but the worst surfaces – great news for drivers on the UK’s scarred roads. Firm everything up and the car is well controlled and balanced through corners, although numb steering means it never feels truly sporty.
It looks good, however. The A7 Sportback was already an attractive car, with its long, sloping roof and clean surfaces. The S7 builds on that with its S and V8 T badges, quad exhaust tailpipes and subtle bodykit, plus added chrome on the grille, foglights and wing mirrors.
Inside, the car is as stylish as we’ve come to expect from Audi, but it’s spacious as well. The hatch’s boot can be expanded from 535 litres to 1,390 litres by folding the rear seats – placing the S7 between the S6 and S6 Avant in terms of practicality.
The downside to this car is its price. You’re paying £8,000 more than for an S6, and getting only extra style and space. And for around £20,000 less, you can have an A7 3.0 TDI – which is far more efficient and almost as attractive.