The Audi S7 is the German automaker's high-performance, mid-size hatchback. It's sold as both the S7, and an even higher-output RS 7.
Nearly identical to the Audi S6 sedan underneath its skin, it’s the skin of the A7 that makes all the difference. That A6/S6 basis gives the A7 impeccable road manners, brilliant luxury finishing, and abundant technology. But the fastback profile and under-hatch cargo area of the A7 make it not only more beautiful, but more useful, than its sedan counterpart. It’s a win-win.
Style, sophistication, and speed—the 2016 S7 has all three in abundance. Heavily revamped for the 2016 model year, the new S7 looks a lot like the old one—despite a fresh appearance treatment—and that’s a very good thing as it’s one of the most beautiful cars on the road today. Under the skin there are a host of technological upgrades, as well as more power on tap. All in all, it’s a thorough upgrade of an already thoroughly impressive car.
Speaking of that beauty, it’s worth noting the changes for the 2016 model year. While the gracefully arched roofline, fastback rear, and muscularly flared fenders all remain the same, the front and rear ends get comprehensive updates for a fresher look. At the nose, a new bumper, “singleframe” grille with chromed treatment (which can be traded for gloss black), redesigned headlights, and a reshaped front splitter. At the rear end, a reshaped bumper, new tail lights, new trapezoidal exhaust outlets, plus a new honeycomb mesh insert in the rear bumper complete the updates.
Inside, the formal elegance of the A7’s cabin remains, with sportier touches to the trim, lush leather, quality plastic and metal contact points, and an overall fit and finish that continues to lead the industry. New for 2016 are a redesigned head-up display housing (on equipped models), upgraded buttons, and aluminum-look window and seat controls.
There are important updates under the hood, too. The same 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 generates power, but it’s been upgraded by 30 horsepower to a total of 450 hp output, as well as 406 pound-feet of torque. RS 7 models range from 560 to 605 hp.
A 7-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission handles the gear shifting duties, also slightly upgraded for the new model year. It shifts quickly and with authority when driven hard, but manages smooth take-offs from a stop and slick shifts when driving more languidly. Quattro all-wheel drive is also standard.
Performance in the S7 is impressive: 0-60 mph takes just 4.3 seconds, and when driving in the real world, it feels like a wall of thrust is available at almost any speed, in any gear. Passing is a joy.
Handling, on the other hand, is about what you’d expect of a large, comfortable, luxurious sedan: in other words, it’s very good, but not sports-car sharp. The steering, likewise, can be a bit vague and numb in its feedback. Nonetheless, the Audi S7 provides great grip, manages its body movement very well through available adaptive dampers, and can be driven very, very quickly yet very smoothly with ease.
Whether tangling with a twisting stretch of road or cruising down the autobahn (or interstate, or freeway) the Audi S7 is a comfortable place to be, in both the front seats and rear seats. Thanks to the sloping coupe-like roof, head room can be a bit snug for taller rear-seat passengers, but there is a handy scallop in the roof to make the most of the available space.
It’s not all about performance even with this, the sportier version of the A7. It’s an Audi, so it’s also about the latest technology. Among the technology is an all-new Multi-Media Interface (MMI) system based around a new Nvidia Tegra 30 processor that’s about twice as powerful as the already impressive previous MMI unit. It can now display full Google Earth data in the navigation display, as well as relaying that information to a secondary display in the instrument panel, along with driving directions, vehicle information, and more. In addition to the extra processing power and brilliant displays, the MMI system also comes with 4G LTE connectivity and wi-fi hotspot functionality. The new MMI system puts Audi back at the forefront of the in-car infotainment field.
Other technological extras available with the 2016 Audi S7 include driver assist systems such as: enhanced night vision, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go traffic assist; blind-spot monitors and lane-keeping assist; and pre-sense braking. A head-up display is also available.
Gas mileage for the 2016 Audi S7, according to the EPA, is 17 mpg city, 27 highway, 21 combined—nearly identical to the 2016 Audi S6, though the S7 loses 1 mpg in city driving. Either way, the S7 isn’t exactly winning any Earth Day awards, but for a 450-hp luxury sport sedan, it’s actually rather efficient. The RS 7 is rated at 15/25/18 mpg.
When it comes to crash testing, neither the IIHS nor the NHTSA have tested the S7, nor its structurally identical A7 doppelgänger, but the very similar A6 has been crash-tested, and earned top marks from both agencies. With a very similar structure and the high-tech safety aids already mentioned, the 2016 Audi S7 should inspire a high degree of confidence in any owner when it comes to accident protection and avoidance.
- 2016 Mercedes-Benz E Class
- 2016 BMW 5-Series
- 2016 Cadillac CTS
No matter which car you choose in the high-performance luxury full-size sedan segment, you're going to get a great car. Which you choose will come down to your personal preference in terms of looks, features, and your need for speed. BMW, Cadillac, and Mercedes all offer very comparable models to the S6, though the Audi matches or outstrips them all in terms of infotainment. The Mercedes E Class offerings pack a great deal of advanced driver assistance technology, and in AMG form, the E Class is a formidable performance sedan. BMW's M5 is also very performance focused, and the Cadillac CTS-V, coming later this year, may be the most serious track weapon of them all. Each offers a different take on interior and exterior design, materials choices and colors, and the degree of ride comfort necessary—but each has a strong following, and for good reason.