You know those days when oneupmanship raises its ugly head? You turn up at a party with the latest gadget and some bugger is there with an even later gadget. Or you throw your kids a birthday party in a zoo and then an invitation comes through for a friend’s party at a game reserve in Kenya. You get the idea – there’s always someone trying to top you.
So, imagine the scene. You have just driven out of the Audi showroom in your gleaming new RS7 and then some oik pulls alongside in the RS7 Performance. Gutted.
The RS7 Performance is an extra £6,575 on top of the already rather steep £85,000 for the base model that is already quite hardcore but what do you get for your money? Well, there’s a fancy finish on the wing mirrors, window trim and grill and larger 21-inch alloy wheels. On the inside, you get privacy glass and carbon fibre inlays and that’s about it.
But of course, knowing Audi the prize will be found under the bonnet and low and behold, there it is. The standard 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 has been fiddled with to offer 597bhp over the standard 552bhp while a new sports exhaust offers a butcher note out of the tail pipes. And what do you get for this? Well, it shaves two-tenths of a second off the 0-62mph sprint time, doing it in 3.7 seconds!
If you want to go faster still, you can pay an extra £1,450 and raise the top speed from 155 to 174mph or for an extra £10,725 for the Dynamic Plus package, you can get it to 189mph.
Is this not all getting a bit silly now? I love Audis and you will be hard pushed to find a bad one and l don’t mind when they convince me to get my wallet out and pay crazy money but l do draw the line at them actually stealing my wallet and helping themselves. The RS7 is a cracking car so what plonker is going to fork out an extra £17,000 to get fancy wing mirrors and a top speed that can only be achieved on an autobahn?
It’s a great bit of engineering of that there is no doubt. The drive is super smooth and with AWD, it handles beautifully and affords you supreme confidence whatever you throw it into. But then so does the standard car. It is built superbly and is so comfortable that you could quite easily nod off. Is it an M5 or an AMG Merc? No, but it is a brilliant piece of German engineering – but then so is the standard car.
It will worry almost anything else on the road and as with all Audis you can drive it like Sterling Moss or dial everything down and take the vicar for tea. It’s a great all-rounder with a ruthlessly efficient chassis, dynamic cornering abilities and a beautiful interior – but then so does the standard car.
And the biggest problem? Well, that’s called the RS6 – my Car of the Year 2015. That barnstorming estate can carry the entire contents of your house in the back and still rip your eyeballs out of their sockets if you hit the go pedal with too much gusto. The RS6 has a very clearly defined purpose but the RS7 Performance, well, l am not really sure who or what it is for. It’s a coupe, so there is limited headroom in the back and limited vision. It’s quite good looking but not a stunner and if you spend £85,000 on it only to be usurped by the Performance, l would be hacked off.
In effect, if you are in your lovely new RS7 and a Performance model comes alongside, look at him with pity and sympathy as he has the identical car to you but paid an extra six and a half grand to get there two- tenths of a second faster than you. Who’s the idiot?
My advice? If you like the look of the RS7, buy the RS7. If you are not sure, do what any sane, right minded person from planet earth would do and buy the RS6 Avant – one of the finest all-round cars in the world.
Model Tested: RS7 Sportback 4.0 TFSI Quattro Performance
Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo
Power: 597 bhp
Performance: 0-62mph 3.7 seconds
Top Speed: 155 mph
Economy: 24.8 mpg combined