I never liked the Audi A7 much.
Since the German automaker first introduced it as the Sportback concept at the Detroit Auto Show in 2009, and later produced the hulking, four-door, four-passenger car in 2010, I saw the A7 as the red-headed stepchild of the Audi brand. You’ll have to excuse the clichéd expression, but I was not a fan.
The A7 was long like an asphalt-bound freightliner, the steeply-raked roofline and the abrupt rear end gave the appearance of a squatting, hump-backed brute. Its dour rear fascia — the taillights and rear bumper collectively — had a sort of perma-grimace to them, like a bulldog.
It’s an odd car in an Audi line that is internationally renowned for graceful European design. For me, the A7 was a car that never should have been made.
But another version of the A7 changed my mind. Audi Sport, the car maker’s racing division in charge of pumping a select few Audi vehicles with extra everything, transforming them into muscular road torpedoes dripping with horsepower, performed such a treatment on the skeleton of an A7, producing the twin-turbo, eight-cylinder, 605-horsepower RS7 Performance.
Audi recently sent me one in Panther Black Crystal for a weeklong test-drive. I figured this might be the one to change my mind.
The RS7 Performance is the fastest and fittest member of the A7 line, but unlike the A7, it’s built by the Audi Sport racing division. “Performance” isn’t just a name here, it’s part of this car’s DNA.
Bryan Logan/Business Insider
The Performance model we drove cranks out 605 horsepower and up to 553 pound-feet of torque — a bump from the 560 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque in the “entry-level” RS7.
The price difference between the base RS7 and the RS7 Performance we drove? About $37,000.
Those 605 ponies launch the RS7 Performance to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds, according to Audi.