New & Used Audi S7: In Depth
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The Audi S7 is a hatchback that calls into question every prejudice you've ever had against that practical body style. Beautiful, and beautifully detailed, the five-door mid-sizer is a stylish derivative of the Audi A6 sedan, but it's much more than that—it's serious competition against the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class and the BMW 6-Series GranCoupe. A part of the A7 / A6 family, the S7 has an even hotter sibling waiting in the wings, too—the scorching RS7.
New for the 2013 model year, the S7 sees only minor changes for 2014--unless you're counting the addition of that super-hot RS 7.
MORE: Come along for the ride in our Audi RS 7 First Drive
You can call the S7 a hatchback, a coupelike sedan--whatever. It's one of the best vehicles of its kind, no matter if you're judging it on looks, dynamics, or content. It only truly gets down to business once you've skipped the A7's basic supercharged V-6 and anted up to the S7's higher performance plane. Under the S7's hood, there's a twin-turbo V-8 with 420 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, sent to all four wheels via quattro all-wheel drive and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. It can throw down 0-60 mph runs in 4.5 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 155 mph, while delivering EPA-rated highway fuel economy in the high-20s.
The Audi RS 7 is an almost entirely different rush, along the same lines. The twin turbos are pressed harder to generate about 560 horsepower. The dual-clutch isn't strong enough for it all, so the RS 7 gets an eight-speed, paddle-shifted automatic. With 0-60 mph times of 3.7 seconds, it's no longer just a rival for the usual luxury sedans; it'll hound a Corvette Stingray down the straights. A sport rear differential makes the most of the rear-biased all-wheel-drive setup. All told, it's good for a 0-60 mph times of well under 4.0 seconds, and a top speed of up to 190 mph.
That performance comes under the auspices of a really practical luxury car. The sloping roof and the enormous hatchback opening make the S7 more practical and versatile than it has a right to be. Rear-seat passengers may note that headroom is somewhat tight in back, but those rear seatbacks fold forward to expand cargo space. There's extensive aluminum in the S7's body, to reduce weight, and the frameless doors look elegant and do their part to minimize wind noise. Above all, the sense of poise in the S7 is unmistakable: steering can be firm and direct, and ride quality controlled, even with Drive Select in its more relaxed settings.
Inside, the S7 gets some of the best elements of the cabin from Audi's A8 flagship—including superb materials and trims and Audi's MMI Plus screen-based system, which includes a combination rotary controller and an interface for audio navigation, and calling functions. In addition to the controller, there's also MMI Touch, which lets you enter destinations, phonebook entries, and such by tracing out individual letters, one at a time. The navigation system in the S7 also includes 3D Google Earth imagery; combined with SiriusXM Traffic updates, it's one of the best systems on the market.