When I was a kid, I was fascinated by the sort of gifts I used to get on my birthday. But nothing has got me as excited as a toy car. I had more than 100 of them and one of them was my paddle car, blue shade, had big black wheels and a button which used to pop up the battery powered headlights. I used to paddle all around the house crashing into various things, like the vegetable rack and the television case. Speed had me.
A few tens of years later, I have a car parked in my driveway, blue shade, paddles in the footwell to move or stop the car, and a button which starts it, err, it does not have the pop-up headlamps, sadly.
Say hello to the 2016 Audi RS7, assembled in Neckarsulm, south of Germany, it is a car which has got many people thinking how a gorgeous looking Audi A7 turned into a hell-raising behemoth. Price in India starts from INR 1.4 crore, ex-showroom.
In the engine bay, Audi has managed to fit in 560 horses, more horses than you would find at any of the Galopprennbahns. 700 Nm of torque from the 3993 cc engine with a sublime 8-speed hydraulic torque converter gearbox is apt to pull you, your girlfriend and her girlfriends in the back seat with their shopping bags in sub 4 seconds. That indeed is supercar pace.
All that sounds like a car from the automotive fairy tales. Supercar power, 5 doors, 4 seats, a boot in which you can actually spread your picnic mat and have a lovely time under the winter sun sipping your favourite drink or steal someone’s wardrobe in that gigantic 1390 litre boot space with the rear seats folded down.
But there’s a problem. It is summer time, out in the sun it feels like being close to a barbeque and the biggest problem of them all, I live in New Delhi. The National capital of our beloved country and also the most congested city of them all. Supercar life here is a privilege but also a task from the outset.
It starts in the morning where I have to carefully make the car cleaner wash the car with filtered water and use a microfiber cloth to wipe the dirt off so that the Sepang blue paint on this car never loses its lustre. I love the way the contrivers at the Neckarsulm facility have painted it silver before they painted it blue. It gives that richness to the hue. I then examine each and every wheel on the car in the morning light so that there isn’t any damage done to the alloy wheels as the tires are the low profile 275/35 R21s. They have me worried being driven in the city brimming with potholes. As I drive out I carefully tilt the car on the larger speed bumps at a turtle’s pace so I do not scratch the underbelly.
Once you’re on the open road you realise how seamless this car feels. Feather your right foot and four of the cylinders stop blowing fuel and only four of them work making this very dynamic. Though the cylinder deactivation system is nothing new in the industry but as I waft through the city roads at the highest gears and an extremely light right foot I primed a fuel efficiency figure of 11.6 km to the litre, which in the books of the environmental boffins is really very good considering the fact that there lies a V8 weapon under the hood that spits fire like a field retrieves rain in a cloud burst.
It gives you an opportunity to be the centre of attraction on the road, driving at half speeds, just cruising through the city roads and letting people roll down their windows to gaze at this masterpiece on four wheels.
I then parked this car at a high street marketplace, the Khan Market, situated in the heart of the city and it took no time to fascinate a feminine band taking selfies and pictures around the car. Perhaps I was now gaining awareness of the snob value this Audi has amongst youngsters and capitalists.
It was Sunday morning I called up a couple of friends who have pursuits in supercars and other fast machines and joined them for a track day at the prestigious Buddh International Circuit, Noida. My ammunition being the discernible Audi RS7. This is the sort of place we yearn to drive on weekends to test the true potential of our fire breathing tools of jubilance.
The Audi RS7 comes armed with dynamic vehicle setting and ride control. A tap on the buttons on the central MMI (Multi Media Interface) control system you can switch the steering, suspension and engine settings to dynamic. This hones the reflexes of the mechanical systems while you push hard through the track. There also lies the dynamic setting for the engine sound which creates a sensational V8 burble while shifting up and crackles while shifting down the gears. This is done through the activation of a butterfly flattery valve situated at the end cans of the exhaust systems.
Put your foot down and the 560 horses pull you like you are entering a fictional black hole with gravitational forces tearing your face off. You’ll be glued to the extremely well-upholstered Alcantara seats as you pull from a standstill to a 100 kmph in 3.8 seconds and 200kmph in just 12.5 seconds. As we spur through the race track I manage to click 260 kmph on the back straight of the Buddh International Circuit. At the corners, the torque vectoring system would manage the power supply to all four wheels individually through its Quattro four-wheel drive system. This means that the RS7, even with its 2-tonne weight can nick through the corners with absolute ease. The car tends to oversteer a bit on hard cornering but the Quattro system makes sure that you grab your race line and not turn into a mess.
The Pirelli PZERO 275/35 R21s have ample grip once warmed up. The brakes are petal shaped ventilated discs in the front and back couple with triple cylinder callipers in the front and twin cylinder callipers at the back that make sure that the heavy load is stopped within a snap. An active spoiler on the boot is a boon, creating downforce that is much needed at speeds above 150 kmph, very useful when you’re pushing through the corners at high speeds. Also, the drag coefficient of the car is 0.30 Cd/m which is very close to the Audi R8. It absolutely slips through the air like a soap bar slips through your oily hand. Very smooth, indeed. And it gets better as you touch triple digit speeds.
The steering wheel is an electromechanical system with speed dependant feeder, which fades off as the pace increases. Something which makes it efficient in the handling department but isn’t natural, the feedback from the front wheels is not as much as you would expect, in comparison to perhaps a hydraulic steering setup but it does the job rather well in pointing the car in the direction as commanded. This is backed by the air suspension setup in the front and rear with active dynamic ride control that stiffens up the ride on demand as the going gets insane.
It does perform like a supercar, it makes you forget that there are 2 seats in the rear and a huge boot. Seems like a perfect recipe then for a luxury ark cum speed boat.
We then headed back home, famished and drained. Reached Delhi at sunset and what we find is a swarm of cars congested everywhere on the road. 7 lanes created by road users on a 4 laned road, a regular sight of a weekend avid city of New Delhi. I am stranded at one spot for many minutes in this jam. I keep myself entertained with the Bang & Olufsen sound system which comes as an option in the RS7 paired to my iPhone over Bluetooth playing Sam Smith’s ‘stay with me’.
And all of a sudden I am profoundly engrossed by the beauty of engineering that the RS7 is. It ticks all the boxes, and double ticks them too. In the world that probes everything in the term ‘value for money’, the RS7 makes a lot of sense. Practical, mega fast and painless to maintain with Audi’s substantial service and sales network.
As Daniel Martin Moore recites in his ballad ‘Make your choice, let it be the one you need’, I reckon this is the one, my ace of hearts from the deck of cards in automotive excellence.
Pictures: Archit Kishore / Ravjyot Singh