New & Used Audi S7: In Depth
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The Audi S7 is a five-door, mid-size hatchback that was spun off from the A6 family of cars. The S7 is very close to the high-performance Audi S6 sedan, though the S7 now has an even hotter sibling on tap in the form of the scorching RS 7.
The S7 calls into question every prejudice you've ever had against practical hatchbacks, but it's more than just a thought leader. It's serious competition against the Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG and the BMW M6 Gran Coupe, as well as the Alpina B6 Gran Coupe.
A new model for the 2013 model year, Audi's S7 gets its first face lift for 2016. Changes include subtle updates to the lighting elements in front and rear as well as a revised interior layout with improved materials and the latest Audi infotainment offerings.
MORE: Read our 2016 Audi S7 review
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 450 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 limited at 155 mph, while delivering highway fuel economy in the high 20s, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The even hotter RS 7 is basically a super S7, with a 560-hp version of the same engine and slightly more aggressive detailing. The S7's dual-clutch can't handle the insane torque of the RS 7's V-8, so a much smoother eight-speed automatic stands in its place. The automatic transmission has launch control and actually makes the RS 7 more comfortable than the S7, especially when just cruising. The rear-biased, all-wheel-drive system has a torque-vectoring rear differential that gets the big hatch to really turn. With all of this power, the RS 7 doesn't just beat up on sports sedans, but it's a match for some real sports cars, with a 3.7-second 0-to-60 time and a top speed of 174 mph.
MORE: Come along for the ride in our Audi RS 7 First Drive
That performance comes under the auspices of a 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 use of 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 and RS 7 receive some of the best elements of the cabin from Audi's A8 flagship—including superb materials, trims, and Audi's Multi Media Interface (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 and RS 7 also includes 3D Google Earth imagery; combined with SiriusXM Traffic updates—it's one of the best systems on the market.
For 2016, Audi tuned its 4.0-liter V-8 for even more punch in the S7; the potent engine now produces 450 horsepower, up 30 from prior years.