The Audi RS7 Performance is a vicious $US152,000 supercar wrapped in a luxury sedan

2017 Audi RS7
Audi RS7. Bryan Logan/Business Insider

I never liked the Audi A7 much.

Since the German automaker first introduced it as the Sportback concept at the Detroit Auto Show in 2009, and later produced the hulking, four-door, four-passenger car in 2010, I saw the A7 as the red-headed stepchild of the Audi brand. You’ll have to excuse the clichéd expression, but I was not a fan.

The A7 was long like an asphalt-bound freightliner, the steeply-raked roofline and the abrupt rear end gave the appearance of a squatting, hump-backed brute. Its dour rear fascia — the taillights and rear bumper collectively — had a sort of perma-grimace to them, like a bulldog.

It’s an odd car in an Audi line that is internationally renowned for graceful European design. For me, the A7 was a car that never should have been made.

But another version of the A7 changed my mind. Audi Sport, the car maker’s racing division in charge of pumping a select few Audi vehicles with extra everything, transforming them into muscular road torpedoes dripping with horsepower, performed such a treatment on the skeleton of an A7, producing the twin-turbo, eight-cylinder, 605-horsepower RS7 Performance.

Audi recently sent me one in Panther Black Crystal for a weeklong test-drive. I figured this might be the one to change my mind.

Oh, my.

[slideshow]
[slide
permalink=”/#the-rs7-performance-is-the-fastest-and-fittest-member-of-the-a7-line-but-unlike-the-a7-its-built-by-the-audi-sport-racing-division-performance-isnt-just-a-name-here-its-part-of-this-cars-dna-1″
title=”The RS7 Performance is the fastest and fittest member of the A7 line, but unlike the A7, it’s built by the Audi Sport racing division. ‘Performance’ isn’t just a name here, it’s part of this car’s DNA.”
content=”The Performance model we drove cranks out 605 horsepower and up to 553 pound-feet of torque — a bump from the 560 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque in the ‘entry-level’ RS7.

The price difference between the base RS7 and the RS7 Performance we drove? About $US37,000.

Those 605 ponies launch the RS7 Performance to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds, according to Audi.”
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[slide
permalink=”/#the-rs7-retains-the-regular-a7s-standard-shape-its-still-a-hulking-sort-of-thing-still-awkward-looking-but-in-this-color-with-these-wheels-painted-in-high-gloss-black-it-starts-to-look-meaner–2″
title=”The RS7 retains the regular A7’s standard shape. It’s still a hulking sort of thing, still awkward-looking — but in this colour, with these wheels, painted in high-gloss black, it starts to look meaner …”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/59bc9c8438d20d2b008b7114″
source=”Bryan Logan/Business Insider”
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[slide
permalink=”/#-and-when-youre-not-pretty-maybe-mean-is-the-way-you-get-respect-3″
title=”… and when you’re not pretty, maybe mean is the way you get respect.”
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[slide
permalink=”/#so-whats-it-like-to-drive-a-car-this-big-and-powerful-and-mean-4″
title=”So, what’s it like to drive a car this big and powerful and mean?”
content=””
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source=”Bryan Logan/Business Insider”
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[slide
permalink=”/#lets-hop-into-these-valcona-leather-and-alcantara-wrapped-sport-seats-and-find-out-5″
title=”Let’s hop into these Valcona leather and Alcantara-wrapped sport seats and find out.”
content=””
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source=”Bryan Logan/Business Insider”
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[slide
permalink=”/#youre-greeted-with-more-leather-and-alcantara-and-lots-of-carbon-fiber-here-in-the-drivers-seat-6″
title=”You’re greeted with more leather and Alcantara, and lots of carbon fibre here in the driver’s seat.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/59bc9fdb9803c578288b644e”
source=”Bryan Logan/Business Insider”
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[slide
permalink=”/#the-rs7-performances-dash-and-center-console-have-a-monochrome-aesthetic-typical-of-high-performance-sports-cars-our-tester-had-all-tech-features-you-would-expect-in-a-six-figure-audi-including-a-small-digital-display-in-the-gauge-cluster-and-screen-atop-the-center-stack-audis-virtual-cockpit-will-show-up-in-the-new-model-in-2019-7″
title=”The RS7 Performance’s dash and center console have a monochrome aesthetic, typical of high-performance sports cars. Our tester had all tech features you would expect in a six-figure Audi, including a small digital display in the gauge cluster and screen atop the center stack. Audi’s Virtual Cockpit will show up in the new model, in 2019.”
content=””
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source=”Bryan Logan/Business Insider”
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[slide
permalink=”/#remember-what-i-said-about-that-monochrome-aesthetic-yeah-i-wasnt-kidding-our-test-car-also-had-the-optional-alcantara-lined-roof-thatll-be-an-extra-3000-if-youd-like-to-enjoy-one-yourself-8″
title=”Remember what I said about that monochrome aesthetic? Yeah, I wasn’t kidding. Our test car also had the optional Alcantara-lined roof. That will be an extra $3,000 if you’d like to enjoy one yourself.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/59bca0fd38d20d21008b709b”
source=”Bryan Logan/Business Insider”
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[slide
permalink=”/#despite-being-the-most-extreme-rs7-you-can-buy-the-car-is-surprisingly-quiet-and-composed-on-the-road-it-absorbed-the-mixed-los-angeles-landscape-sometimes-smooth-and-unbothered-most-times-craggy-unsettled-and-jarring-with-ease-even-with-these-21-inch-wheels-9″
title=”Despite being the most extreme RS7 you can buy, the car is surprisingly quiet and composed on the road. It absorbed the mixed Los Angeles landscape: sometimes smooth and unbothered, most times craggy, unsettled, and jarring — with ease. Even with these 21-inch wheels.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/59bca1d938d20d2b008b711b”
source=”Bryan Logan/Business Insider”
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[slide
permalink=”/#power-delivery-is-equally-as-smooth-the-rs7-performance-seamlessly-transitions-from-a-docile-highway-cruiser-to-a-vicious-supercar-when-you-switch-into-dynamic-mode-using-the-drive-select-button-seen-on-the-steering-wheel-10″
title=”Power delivery is equally as smooth. The RS7 Performance seamlessly transitions from a docile highway cruiser to a vicious supercar when you switch into ‘dynamic’ mode, using the drive-select button, seen on the steering wheel.”
content=””
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[slide
permalink=”/#it-scoots-to-60-mph-in-36-seconds-according-to-audi-the-8-speed-automatic-transmission-produces-a-distinct-guttural-burp-between-shifts-which-can-be-heard-from-the-signature-large-oval-shaped-exhaust-outlets-typically-seen-on-audi-rs-models-11″
title=”It scoots to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds, according to Audi. The 8-speed automatic transmission produces a distinct, guttural ‘burp’ between shifts, which can be heard from the signature large, oval-shaped exhaust outlets typically seen on Audi RS models.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/59bca36838d20d7f378b68fa”
source=”Bryan Logan/Business Insider”
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[slide
permalink=”/#theres-some-cargo-space-too-12″
title=”There’s some cargo space, too.”
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[slide
permalink=”/#again-this-is-a-very-large-car-and-youll-get-a-clear-sense-of-its-heft-when-its-parked-in-a-standard-american-garage–13″
title=”Again, this is a very large car, and you’ll get a clear sense of its heft when it’s parked in a standard American garage …”
content=””
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[slide
permalink=”/#-but-youll-feel-virtually-none-of-that-weight-from-the-drivers-seat-the-rs7-performance-handles-like-a-nimble-supercar-and-seems-much-smaller-and-lighter-than-it-actually-is-a-marvel-of-german-engineering-14″
title=”… but you’ll feel virtually none of that weight from the driver’s seat. The RS7 Performance handles like a nimble supercar and seems much smaller and lighter than it actually is. A marvel of German engineering.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/59bca5b138d20d1f008b7171″
source=”Bryan Logan/Business Insider”
caption=”2017 Audi RS7.”
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[/slideshow]