Road tested: 2016 Audi S7


SAN FRANCISCO — October, 13, 2016 — You’re an urban professional with discretionary income that has the desire for a sport sedan that performs and drives as good as it looks. The kind of car that when you step on the gas, you get nearly instant gratification – not only in a straight line but around the corners of those wide-open roads. Often, the way we drive a car can be a metaphor for other areas in our lives. The S7 and other S-variants from Audi help cement that metaphor for those who appreciate the way they drive.

For some people, owning a car of refinement and power is a must. Audi’s 2016 S7 offers those kinds of customers an incredibly capable, performance-driving sedan with a fastback. This sleek-looking sedan boasts power in spades with looks that combine both elegance and sport — which the active rear spoiler helps to augment. With a starting price at just under $80k, this car isn’t for everyone but that’s okay because you aren’t “everyone” – the S7 we tested topped out at the $96k mark as configured with most all of the available options.

The potent 4.0-Liter V8 pushes out 450-horsepower at 5,500rpms and 406 lb-ft of torque at 1,400rpms – it’s enough to get you from zero to sixty in 4.5 seconds with launch control activated (Audi’s conservative claim), however, we’re confident it’s a bit quicker than that. Top speed is electronically limited to 155 miles per hour. The pieces that tie things together in the powertrain are the exceptional dual-clutch seven speed transmission that feeds the Quattro all-wheel-drive system.

Power is delivered to all four wheels with a dual-clutch seven speed automatic with paddle shifters. Slap it into sport mode and you’ll notice it slams through the gears in a way that harkens to the days of driving a stick-shift.

Audi’s interior design team really deserve a lot of kudos as they always tend to do a great job of giving us interiors that not only are some of the best-looking but extremely intuitive as well. Our particular test model featured the red leather with very upscale-looking diamond pattern on them and provide very good support for around town, long drives and on windy roads. The use of materials are what really helps set this interior apart from some of its competition and the way they’re implemented in such a way that combines modern with elegance. Rear leg-room is more than ample, easily allowing adults to ride in back for extended lengths of time with little to no fatigue.

The infotainment system uses Audi’s MMI (multimedia interface) which is very easy to use, however, it is starting to look a tad dated now that it’s been around for several years. The audio quality from its Bang and Olufsen-powered audio is good but lacks a much-needed, great low bass frequency response. While the midrange frequencies are warm and the highs smooth, the lack of bass-impact is a huge disappointment. Note to Audi, please take a listen to the Harmon Kardon systems in KIA.

What doesn’t disappoint, however, is the implementation of Google Earth mapping for its on-board navigation. Additionally, the control area also lets you use your finger to “hand-write” the letters into the input screen, which is very slick.

Additional features for the S7 include, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, a night vision camera, blind-spot indicators, on-board WiFi, voice recognition, parking sensors – front and rear – Bluetooth, quad-zone climate control, a sunroof, corner view camera and anti-collision assist with automatic braking.

Thanks to this car’s fastback design, there is a ton of rear cargo area for those trips to Costco, multiple pieces of luggage or a load of circus midgets – we won’t judge – there’s 24.5 cubic feet in all.

Where this car really shines is in its performance and not just in a straight-line. Drop the car into sport mode and you’ll feel the suspension tighten-up a bit and the steering feel more weighted. The Quattro all-wheel-drive does an admirable job of mitigating understeer with the bulk of its power distribution going to the rear wheels under normal driving conditions. While we’d like to see the suspension tighten-up even more while in “performance mode”, the overall handling is better than many in its class thanks to Audi’s sports differential – it helps to mitigate understeer during hard cornering and transfers the torque between the front and rear wheels according to current cornering conditions.

Wrapping up here, Audi has done a tremendous job of delivering a very fun-to-drive sport sedan that boasts a lot more cargo area than its competitors, thanks to the hatchback design. Combine that with its sublime interior built-quality, Quattro all-wheel-drive and you have the makings for one of the finest sedans going in its price bracket.

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