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2014 Audi RS 7 First Review: Four rings, four doors and 560 horsepower

By Jason Allan on October 31, 2013 9:16 AM
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The leather seats in the 2014 Audi RS 7 are stitched with a honeycomb pattern that mimics the design of the grille insert. It's a good look, but the stitching doesn't work in combination with perforation, and after an hour or so in the car we reached for a seat cooling button that wasn't to be found.

Fortunately you can remedy the problem for an extra $2,000 via the Comfort Seating package, which nets not just perforation and active ventilation, but adds massaging functionality. The rub is that you lose the cool honeycomb stitching.

This is the biggest complaint we could muster after our first day behind the wheel of the 2014 Audi RS 7. A First World problem in the extreme.

The most powerful Audi

The centerpiece of the 2014 Audi RS 7 is a 560-horsepower turbocharged V8 matched with an 8-speed automatic transmission and a sophisticated all-wheel drive system that distributes power not just front to rear, but also between the rear wheels via mechanical torque vectoring.

That 560 figure gives the RS 7 exactly 10 more horsepower than the most potent Audi R8 — the $170,000 Audi R8 V10 Plus — and the RS 7's 516 lb-ft of torque out-twist the top-dog R8 by a remarkable 118 lb-ft. The RS 7 has more torque, in fact, than the R8's impressive 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission can handle, but gets on just fine with a quick-shifting "traditional" 8-speed automatic.

Working all together, Audi says the RS 7 will rocket to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds on its way to an electronically limited top speed of 174 mph.

And after six-plus hours in the car we can confirm with fewer hard numbers that the RS 7 is indeed extremely fast. Intoxicating power, an addictive exhaust note and responsive steering are all constantly compelling you to drive the RS 7 the way it was designed to be driven. Combined with its tastefully augmented design, typically gorgeous interior and comfortable highway manners (thanks to an adjustable suspension and curiously quiet cabin), the 2014 Audi RS 7 has earned a spot on our short list of six-figure sedans with which we'd like to resurface our driveway.

Backseat shopper

Here's an irresistible game:

For the $105,000+ price of an Audi RS 7, you could have a ______________.

Surely a few favorites comes to mind, but limit the field to "un-sedan" four doors with more than 500 horsepower and top-dog status in their lineup, and you're basically looking at a three-car field. Here's a quick look at how the 2014 Audi RS 7 compares against its two key rivals.

2014 Audi RS 7

Audi RS 7 buyers can point to their car's hatchback-like cargo versatility and mechanical torque vectoring as key advantages. The RS 7 does not, however, offer a $10,000 carbon ceramic brake package option as do the Mercedes and BMW.

Price range: $105,000 to $130,000+ Build and price your own
Engine: 4.0-liter turbocharged V8
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Horsepower: 560
Torque (lb-ft): 516
Curb weight: 4,475 lb
Fuel economy (city/hwy/combined): 16/27/19 mpg
0-60 mph: 3.7 seconds
Top speed: 174 mph (electronically limited)

vs. 2014 BMW M6 Gran Coupe

The M6 Gran Coupe is the only car in this triumvirate available with a manual transmission, and the only offered exclusively as a rear-drive machine. Does that make it the choice of purists or nostalgists?

Price range: $115,000 to $155,000+ Build and price your own
Engine: 4.4-liter turbocharged V8
Horsepower: 560
Torque (lb-ft): 502
Curb weight: 4,430 lb
Fuel economy (city/hwy/combined): 14/20/16 mpg
0-60 mph: 4.1 seconds
Top speed: 155 mph (electronically limited)

vs. 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG S-Model 4Matic Coupe

Buyers who play the numbers game will be drawn in by the CLS63 AMG S-Model's horsepower, torque, acceleration and top speed figures, all of which are tops in this group.

Price range: $107,000 to $135,000+ Build and price your own
Engine: 5.5-liter turbocharged V8
Horsepower: 577
Torque (lb-ft): 590
Curb weight: 4,355 lb
Fuel economy (city/hwy): 16/22 mpg
0-60 mph: 3.6 seconds
Top speed: 186 mph

Want more specs? See them side-by-side-by-side.

Look within

So which one's right for you?  The answer has more to do with what's on the grille than what's behind it. Each is an amazing machine with its own sense of style, but one wears a three-pointed star, another has a blue and white roundel and the newest entry sports four shiny rings. One of those badges gets your heart beating faster than the others, and that's probably the badge you should buy.

But ventilation aside, we sure did enjoy our time in those honeycomb-stitched seats.

More Audi Fun

Video: Hear the "wicked banshee wail" of the Audi RS 5

Video: See how Audi made the R8 even better for 2014

Same shape, smaller price: Check out the 2014 Audi A7

 

 

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