There are very few new cars more desirable than the latest Audi R8. With a 0-62mph time of 3.5 seconds and a top speed nudging 200mph, the £120,000 supercar will out-accelerate almost anything on London’s streets. Even better, it’s packed with enough technology to make even the worst traffic jams that little more bearable.
But there’s one thing it isn’t: practical. There are only two seats in its cramped cabin, while its midmounted engine eats up boot space.
Fortunately, Audi makes a car for every occasion. If you’ve got a family to lug around but still want sleek coupe looks and supercar performance, there’s the Audi RS7. And for the presumably rare occasions when the regular £85,000, 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds, 155mph Audi RS7 just isn’t fast enough, there’s the Audi RS7 Performance.
For an extra £6,575, the R8-baiting RS7 Performance will hit 62mph 0.2 seconds quicker than the standard car, while top speed remains an electronically-limited 155mph. Well, unless you spend nearly £11,000 on the Dynamic Pack Plus, which – among other things – increases the top speed to 189mph.
While most won’t be too fussed about the extra performance (bragging rights aside), one of the pleasing features of the RS7 Performance is the sports exhaust. Select Dynamic mode in the Drive Select system and it’ll pop and bang like a true supercar.
Doing so will also sharpen up the suspension and increase how fidgety the steering is. Great if you’re hooning around a marble-smooth race track, not so good if you’re dealing with potholed city streets.
It’s a true Jekyll and Hyde car, though. Switch to Comfort mode and the suspension provides an unusually compliant ride for a sporting Audi fitted with large alloys. The steering is numb – overly so – but light enough to take the pain out of manoeuvring through traffic. Meanwhile, the exhaust quietens down, and it becomes a gentle cruiser, ready to cross continents should you wish. And it’s still very quick.
Audi has got the best interiors in the business, and the RS7 Performance is no different. Blue stitching marks it out as being a bit more special than the regular model, which itself boasts a top-notch cabin. The sloping roofline does encroach slightly on rear headroom, and just two seats in the rear means larger families won’t be able to do the school run in it.
Of course, running the RS7 Performance requires deep pockets. You’ll pay £690 for the first year’s road tax (expensive, although it pales into insignificance compared to the near-£100,000 list price), while subsequent years are charged at £290.
More worrying, perhaps, will be the fuel consumption. In official tests, it returns nearly 30.0mpg. But around town? You’ll be lucky to see mid-teens.
In truth, the Audi RS7 Performance is a difficult car to justify. No one really needs a car as quick as the regular RS7 – and no one has ever found one lacking. So paying the extra money for the Performance model is something you’ll only do if you absolutely must have the latest and best RS7 (an awful lot of) money can buy.
Unless you really want a five-door coupe, there are alternatives from elsewhere within the Audi range, too – a few that are a smidgen easier to justify. The RS6 Avant, for example, is almost identical to the RS7 – and is also available as a Performance derivative. As an estate, it’s more practical, and it’s also cheaper. And, in our opinion, it looks better as well.