Audi S7

Fast, good-looking executive saloon

8.0
wowscore
This is the average score given by leading car publications from 12 reviews
  • Inconspicuous yet fast
  • Smooth
  • Well-made interior
  • Not the most cosseting ride
  • Rivals are more fun to drive
  • Expensive options
 

£63,920 Price range

 

4 Seats

 

30 MPG

Review

The Audi S7 is a fast four-door coupe that has most of the performance of the range-topping RS7, but costs less and has subtler styling.

It rivals the Porsche Panamera GTS, BMW 650i Gran Coupe, Mercedes CLS 500 and, to some extent, the pricy Aston Martin Rapide.

The twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 under the S7’s bonnet produces 444hp, but it is its smoothness that really impresses. It’s still rocket-ship quick with 0-62mph taking 4.4 seconds, but thanks to the latest in fuel-saving technology it isn’t hugely expensive to run.

Thanks to its quattro four-wheel-drive system, the S7 has the grip to go around corners (no matter the weather) very quickly, but it’s more at home on the motorway, where few cars can match its in-gear acceleration. If you like overtaking incredibly quickly, this is the car for you.

You’ll have to look hard to find a better appointed cabin at this price – everything from the carbon-fibre inlays to the switchgear feels extremely solid. The overall impression you get inside the S7 is that it was chiseled out of one solid chunk of premium plastic, rather than assembled from individual components.

The S7 comes with plenty of equipment as standard such as heated leather seats and a four-zone climate control system, but at this price point, Audi should have been more generous.

To remind you you’re not sitting in any old A7, there are some sporty details that hint at the 444hp under the S7’s bonnet. Things such as the carbon fibre inserts, aluminium pedals, grey dial faces and some S badges here and there add some flair to the otherwise sober interior.

Apart from the racy bits you still get the same beautifully finished cabin as in the normal A7, with an infotainment screen that tucks away into the dashboard when not in use. This, combined with the brushed aluminium buttons, makes the S7’s interior a great place to spend time.

The only gripe with this near-faultless interior is that Audi wants £2,345 for the latest infotainment system with 3D maps. The sat-nav that you get as standard is easy to use but doesn’t offer the functionality of the newer system.

Audi S7 passenger space

The diamond quilted leather seats are superb – they are firm enough to hold you in place yet still comfortable – you’d rarely feel tired after a long journey. A perfect driving position is easy to achieve thanks to the 14-way adjustable front seats.

The S7 is a big car and comes as a four-seater as standard. This results in plenty of head and legroom both in the front and rear. Should you need a middle rear seat, Audi will fit one free of charge.

The S7 is on par with rivals in terms of passenger space – it’s a bit roomier than a Porsche Panamera, but a bit tighter inside than a Mercedes CLS. If you value passenger space over design, then the Audi A8 with it’s more upright roofline is the better bet.

Audi S7 boot space

The S7 might look like a large four-door saloon, but it’s actually a hatchback which makes it surprisingly practical. The large boot door eases access to the 535-litre boot which expands to 1,390 litres if you fold the rear seats down. A ski-hatch along with tie-down straps and a luggage net are available as part of the £455 Convenience Pack.

Compared to rivals, the S7 beats the CLS with its 520-litre boot which also lacks Audi’s folding rear seats as standard. Both the 6 Series and the Panamera are considerably less practical with load bays that can fit on average 100 litres less than the Audi.

The S7 is an incredibly quick car regardless of the weather or road conditions. It gets the four-wheel drive as standard whereas in most rivals it’s an optional extra. Problem is, the big Audi still weighs close to two tonnes and although it can pick up speed with ease, show it some really twisty roads and you’ll be fighting a losing battle with the laws of physics.

Out on the motorway the S7 is in its element – whether you want a relaxing drive home or to get somewhere in a hurry – the big Audi can do it. This is because it rides on standard air suspension which comes with several driving modes. You can adjust the ride stiffness, steering-wheel weight and throttle response to your liking in Individual mode or choose between the pre-programmed Comfort and Dynamic settings.

With 444hp on tap the S7 isn’t exactly short on power, yet the same engine produces 605hp in the S8 Plus. The result is that the unstressed engine feels extremely smooth, which complements the car’s ability to cover a huge number of miles in one sitting. It’s not the power that pins you into the seat each time you press the accelerator, but the 406lb ft of torque, available from just 600rpm above idle. That equates to 0-62mph in 4.4 seconds and a 155 mph limiter that comes up way too quickly – not bad for a two-tonne car.

Such pace, inevitably, comes with high running costs, but in the S7’s case it’s not so bad. You can get close to the official fuel consumption of 29.4mpg by driving carefully and using the car’s cylinder-on-demand technology. It shuts down half the engine’s cylinders at a steady cruise on the motorway and fires them back up when power is needed – in a way most drivers would be hard pushed to notice.

For a car of this price and pace, a generous safety equipment list is compulsory and in this regard the S7 delivers – it gets a full complement of airbags, hill-hold assist and better brakes than a standard A7, while lane-keep assist, automatic city braking and adaptive cruise control cost £3,995 as part of the Technology Pack. Infrared night vision is also available for £1,510 extra.

There isn’t a Euro NCAP crash-test score for the S7 yet, but the A6, a car that shares much with the A7, scored the maximum five stars when it was evaluated.

Some might argue that heated leather seats, a four-zone climate control system, automatic lights and wipers, keyless go, parking sensors plus Bluetooth smartphone connectivity is not enough standard equipment for a car costing more than £60,000.

We’re inclined to agree – most of that equipment you can get in a supermini, but you also pay for the confidence-inspiring quattro 4WD, the fantastically smooth V8 engine, the near-perfect interior and the kudos of the S badge.

If you don’t want to overspend, pick from the options list with care. There you can find a £6,300 Bang & Olufsen stereo or the aforementioned £3,995 Technology Pack among many other pricey extras.

Conclusion

So to recap – the S7’s interior could be sportier, the ride softer, the engine more powerful and the options less expensive. It seems difficult to recommend, then, yet rivals have similar drawbacks, while the S badge brings that sense of occasion the competition simply doesn’t have. You could say that it’s the perfect compromise for everyday driving.

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