Some cars scream performance but in the world of luxury coupes a subtle approach is often preferred.
Forgetting the outrageous Nissan GT-R, machines like the Porsche Panamera, Mercedes CLS and BMW 6 Series are all about keeping the performance under wraps.
And so it is with the RS7. What we have here is a proper supercar dressed in sheep’s clothing. Sure, it looks brutal head on but otherwise there’s very little to suggest the Audi is anything other than an executive jellymould.
Until you put your foot down that is. Then the exhaust ports open, the 4.0-litre engine roads and the RS7 takes off like a stabbed rat.
It is quite ridiculously fast for such a big motor and could power on to 190mph.
Issues? Just the handling, which is strange considering this is a quattro! There’s very little feel through the steering wheel, so set the Drive Select setting to Dynamic for best results.
You wonder sometimes when manufacturers will reach an optimum level of performance for their cars. I’m not actually sure your average driver can tell whether one vehicle is 0.2 seconds faster to 60mph than another.
However, that is the point of the Performance – the ultimate incarnation of the ubiquitous A7. The RS version is quick but this one trims 0.2 seconds off the 60mph dash – oh and it will cost you £6,500 more too.
You’re only really going to spot the difference on a race track – and then I would argue that the 7 isn’t exactly the correct machine to be ripping around Silverstone in the first place.
Looking at the RS7 in front of me now, I’m already wondering who actually buys a car like this. Let’s take it out on the road to find out…
Am I the first to note that the Peugeot 508 RXH looks remarkably like the Audi A4 allroad?
No bad thing, of course. Just remember that despite the butch looks of the Pug, it doesn’t actually benefit from four-wheel drive. You need the more expensive hybrid version to enjoy that.
I can’t deny the RXH is pretty car. The curves and lines give BMW’s estate range a run for its money.
Sadly, this being a Peugeot, it doesn’t have anywhere near the same badge kudos. So why is the RXH expensive?
I could buy a standard 3 Series or A4 estate for £30k. Both the Audi and BMW are much better drivers cars too…
Don’t expect to wow your neighbours with the A8 – a pumped up version of the A4. There’s nothing remarkable about the styling, even on our hugely expensive test car.
At least the big Audi is beautifully put together. Advanced, refined and technologically superior, it should be the benchmark limo for all others to aspire to.
However, shouldn’t an exec get as excited about their set of wheels as the rest of us? The A8 misses out here – it’s a big saloon for men in grey suits. The type of chap who would scorn a BMW, Jaguar or a terribly provocative Maserati.
So, while they enjoy effortless performance which allows them to serve up dinner party chat about the A8’s remarkable fuel economy, the subtle looks won’t appeal to everyone.
Just what can the latest Mazda MX-5 learn from the Audi A8? A superlative sports car and benchmark limo, they both have a flat screen infotainment system in the middle of the dashboard.
The current trend for upright, stand alone screens that don’t sit flush with the dash continues apace – even though a 7-inch block of plastic totally ruins the ergonomics.
That’s especially true when it requires a lot of scrolling through menus to turn the screen off at night. Painful.
So at least Audi has got it right with the A8. Press one button and that useful but very ugly screen folds away neatly into the dash and is hidden out of sight.
Other manufacturers take note. We want high tech but like a huge TV in the living room, it looks better when not in view…
Audi operates a fleet of chauffeur-driven A8s in the UK for high profile media events – film premieres, fashions shows and that kind of thing.
The questions is where would you rather sit – in the driver’s seat or in the back?
Thanks to all that lightweight bodywork, even our 3.0-litre is pretty swift in a straight line. It’s ‘modestly’ dynamic but doesn’t feel like a driver’s car in TDI form at least.
There’s no getting away from the fact that this a very large car. Just like the brilliant Range Rover, it is super comfortable and refined but not a vehicle for launching around a corner.
So I’m going to sit this one out and take the back seat…
Looking to make a massive understatement? The latest Audi A8 – like previous models – is the least talked about limo you could wish to hope for.
But while the aluminium exterior is not known for turning heads, the cabin is something of a peach. Whether you are a BMW or Mercedes follower, both German rivals are knocked into the shade by the A8 cockpit.
It’s simply a class act. A subtle blend of wood, metal and sumptuous leather that would please any chauffeur, or the person sat behind him.
While the navigation system takes a little getting used to, everything else about the big Audi is how a cabin should be. There are tons of options too but even the standard car has more than enough to please…
After a week in the R8 it almost seems unfair to step into the A8. The two cars are like chalk and cheese – although both share quattro four-wheel drive.
On a wet drive to Kenilworth Castle yesterday, I’m glad the huge A8 had some extra grip though– it really was one of those days to come unstuck big time on the Fosse Way strip.
First impressions? Well, I’m just not sure the big Audi feels special enough. It looks like an A6 on steroids, or a bloated A4. What I’m trying to say is, the A8 just doesn’t feel that different.
Sure, it’s loaded with technology but I want a bit more than that for my £76k. I can’t help feeling a Jag or a Range Rover would move me in just as much comfort.
But critically, they would also set my pulse racing every time I saw it on the driveway…
The R8 may not carry the badge of a Lamborghini or a Ferrari but it is every inch a supercar. It has the looks, the performance and handling to keep the keenest driver engaged.
It’s not as practical as a Porsche 911 as an everyday fast car – but then if you want one of those, go buy a Mercedes.
A better comparison would be the latest McLaren 570S. I drove that car in Portugal four months ago and it is hard to pick between the two.
I suppose the McLaren has more cache – you can’t buy any McLaren for less than £130k, after all.
But badge aside, I’d say both cars are more than a match for each other and the R8 is more than worthy of your consideration – if you are lucky enough to have enough money to buy either…
One reason why motoring writers can offer a better opinion is that we get the chance to live with a car for more than just the usual dealership test drive route.
After ‘owning’ the R8 for five days, I know that it shares one little problem common to the Porsche 911 – the buckle on the passenger safety belt rattles against the bulkhead when not in use.
I can also tell you that the virtual dashboard isn’t as intuitive to use as it might be, and in strong sunlight, there’s a terrible reflection on the windscreen above the instrument binnacle.
While the R8 has an acoustic exhaust system that allows the Audi to be driven relatively quietly through a town (you don’t want to be a knob and show off, do you?), it’s impossible to start the car discreetly, as the pipes scream.
The front luggage area is tiny, oh and the suspension is way to firm, even on ‘comfort’ setting.
So you see, no car is perfect. Even when it looks this good and costs so much…