Audi was one of the first entrants, along with Mercedes-Benz, to graft swooping, coupe-like rooflines onto its four-door sedans. Mercedes did it with the CLS and Audi with the A7, a slightly larger and sleeker version of its then-boxy A6 sedan.

A sporty S7 variant was added, followed by an even sportier RS 7. And when the fans asked for still more, Audi created this most-powerful RS7 Performance five-door sedan to sit atop the A7 lineup.

The new RS 7 Performance now comes with standard RS exterior trim finished in matte gray, including on the exterior mirrors, front spoiler, front side flaps and other areas. It's available in eight exterior colors for the 2024 model year, including two new colors: Grenadier Red and Ascari Blue. Wheel options range from 21 to 22 inches with either summer or all-season tires.

Sight lines are mostly good, though the cameras help immensely. The front bumper is low, though it seems to clear most parking blocks. Thankfully one of the cameras offers a good view of the nose.

The RS 7 Performance gains 30 more horsepower (hp) and an additional 37 pound-feet (lb-ft) of torque over the basic RS 7 from its twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8. It makes a total 621 hp and 627 lb-ft.

Audi also dropped 17 pounds of acoustic damping material, 11 pounds more at each corner when the new optional forged and milled lightweight 22-inch wheels are chosen. With those weight savings in place the RS 7 Performance can sprint to 60 mph in just 3.3 seconds. That's two-tenths quicker than the 2023 model.

The V8 sounds impressive on startup before quieting down, however, when S mode is activated via the gear selector the exhaust gets much louder even at idle. That mode, which also holds onto gears longer and increases throttle response, is just one of the adjustments to the drivetrain of the RS 7.

It has a suspension that adapts to the road automatically, but also with drive modes for Comfort, Auto and Dynamic. Auto mode senses the road and the owner's driving to adjust in real time while Comfort softens the ride significantly. That's important with the optional low-profile 22-inch wheels that are positively shoehorned under the wheel wells.

The steering and throttle adjust too with the drive modes, though the Audi doesn't have adaptive braking like some other German luxury automakers. But, with those large brakes and massive power, the RS 7 feels lighter than expected both when braking and cornering.

And, with standard all-wheel drive splitting the power automatically it nearly always feels planted no matter the surface or speed. It does get jumpy from a standstill in those racier modes, which may surprise passengers not expecting it to move so quickly.

The cabin feels spacious both in width and length, with plenty of space in the second row even behind full-size adults.

Its leather-wrapped seats are supportive enough, though they do not feature the under-knee extender that is becoming more popular in this class of vehicle. The massaging function works well, though it only massages the back and not the seat area.

The test car had a clean black interior, though the new RS design package plus is available with gray, red or blue accents.

The flat-bottom, Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel has buttons and dials for volume and track skipping. Behind is the standard and customizable 12.3-inch Audi virtual cockpit that now features a new blinking shift indicator in manual transmission mode.

In the center is 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system above another screen for climate control. That lower screen, and some functions on the upper screen require a hard press as opposed to a tap. The disadvantage is that it's harder to do while driving, however it does make a click sound to let the driver know they've connected with the right button.

For more exclusivity at the top of the range, Audi is offering a limited Bronze Edition for 2024 of which just 125 units will be available including 75 RS 6 Avant Performance models and 50 RS 7 Performance models. It's available exclusively in black crystal effect paint with special motorsport-inspired 22-inch neodymium gold wheels. It also comes with black painted calipers, the Gloss Carbon exterior package, Valcona leather package and bronze contrast interior stitching.

Mechanically that Bronze Edition comes with adaptive suspension, the RS sport exhaust system with black finishers, a premium Bang & Olfusen sound system and a Dinamica headliner.

The 2024 Audi RS 7 Performance comes standard with forward collision warning, blind spot monitoring, and automated emergency braking. Adaptive cruise control is offered as is the Driver Assistance Package that comes with more assistance features.

The Audi RS 7 Performance has powerful and expensive competitors from across the landscape, though its closest are from its neighbors including the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door 63 S, which has 630 hp and costs $170,350; the BMW M8 Gran Coupe (starting at $138,800 and with 617 hp) and the Porsche Panamera Turbo E-Hybrid. The new fastest Panamera has a base price of $192,995 and delivers 670 hp.

In that context the $127,800 base price of the RS 7 Performance seems reasonable. Its as-tested price of $152,745 seems less so, however about $13,000 of that is in the Matte Carbon Package and Bang & Olufsen sound system, which could be jettisoned. All of these four-door sedans are rocket ships, all are in the six-digit range, all now include all-wheel drive and automatic transmissions, so it comes down to emotion.

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2024-05-16T14:13:13Z dg43tfdfdgfd