The Audi RS7 returns with a more powerful engine and a mild-hybrid setup

The 2020 Audi RS7 is the second generation of the company’s range-topping four-door coupe. Based on the latest A7, the 2020 RS7 features a far more aggressive exterior design, a completely new interior packed with premium features, state-of-the-art technology, and a powerful drivetrain. The latter combines a revised version of Audi’s 4.0-liter V-8 and a 48-volt system that improves fuel efficiency. The 2020 Audi RS7 arrives just in time to take on the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe and the upcoming BMW M8 Gran Coupe.

The 2020 Audi RS7 will join the standard A7 and the mid-range S7 in the U.S., where it will cost in excess of $100,000. Estimates put it at around $120,000, which will make it slightly more affordable that the competition. The 2020 RS7 is one of the many new Audis to feature mild hybrid drivetrains as the German firm is moving more and more toward electrification.

  • 2020 Audi RS7
  • Year:
    2020
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V8
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    600
  • Torque @ RPM:
    590
  • Displacement:
    4.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    3.6 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    155 mph
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • size:
  • Purpose:
  • body style:

Exterior

  • Borrows cues from the A7
  • Notably more aggressive design
  • Black grilles
  • No front grille surround
  • Honeycomb mesh
  • Sporty front bumper
  • Black profile trim
  • Race-inspired rear diffuser
  • LED lights
  • Matrix LED technology in the front
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Both the headlamps and the Singleframe grille feature more acute angles and a sleeker design overall

The RS7 is obviously based on the second-generation A7, launched in 2018. So it inherits all the new design features of its standard sibling, which boasts a more angular and aggressive design than its predecessor. Both the headlamps and the Singleframe grille feature more acute angles and a sleeker design overall. The headlamps are also slimmer than before, while the grille is wider, especially in the center.

The RS package makes the front fascia even more aggressive. The grille has no contrasting frame, while the gloss-black mesh has a three-dimensional honeycomb design. The Audi rings are darker than on the standard model. The regular headlamps were replaced with matrix LED laser lights on this model and also feature RS-specific animation sequences when the car is locked and unlocked. Between the headlamps, a really thin vent runs right above the upper edge of the Singleframe grille.

Down below, the RS7 sports new side vents. These have a triangular shape, taller outer edges, and a honeycomb mesh that matches the main grille. A black splitter and an "RS7" badge round off the sports sedan’s front fascia.

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The RS7 retains the curved trailing edge and strip of LED lights that link the main taillights together

Move onto the sides and you’ll notice the same trademark features as on the A7, like the low shoulder line, the muscular fenders, the sculpted side skirts, and the notchback-style roof. However, the RS7 features some notable revisions, like sportier side sills with black inlays, black window trim and mirror caps, as well as wider fenders. The latter extend the RS7’s width to 1,951 mm (76.8 inches), 25 mm (one inch) more than the regular A7.

Around back, the RS7 retains the curved trailing edge and strip of LED lights that link the main taillights together. This is one of the coolest features that Audi added to the second-generation A7 if you ask me. The taillights come standard with LED technology and the same animation sequence as the headlamps. Just like the front end, the rear fascia comes with black Audi rings and an "RS7" badge made from black and red characters. The short decklid includes a spoiler that extends at speeds over 62 mph.

It’s the area below the tailgate that sets the RS7 apart thanks to a more aggressive diffuser with black detailing and honeycomb mesh, and larger, oval exhaust pipes. Audi also offers carbon-fiber for this area, so you can get a race-like appearance for your RS7.

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Interior

  • Very similar to the A7
  • Unique upholstery
  • Custom displays
  • Colored accents
  • Sporty steering wheel
  • Sports seats
  • Five-seat option for the first time
  • 18.9 cubic feet of trunk space
  • Trunk bigger than the competition
2020 Audi RS7 Interior
- image 860487
While the regular A7 isn't overly fancy, the RS7 comes standard with sports seats wrapped in Valcona leather

Just like the exterior, the interior of the RS7 is heavily based on the standard A7. This is again good news, as Audi did a tremendous job inside the cabin. The four-door coupe now sports a two-tier dashboard with a massive display in the center, a continuous A/C vent strip at the top, and a second display in the wide center console. The upper display is integrated almost seamlessly into the center dash, which makes it nearly impossible to see where the screen ends and the surroundings begin. And that’s a really cool effect.

The instrument cluster is obviously digital and was customized specifically for this model. It now displays info on the drive system temperature, g-forces, tire pressure, boost pressure, lap times, and acceleration. It also has a shift light display that will prompt you to upshift when the rev limit is reached.

2020 Audi RS7 Interior
- image 860486
The steering wheel is also of the RS variety, so it comes with a flat bottom and wrapped in perforated leather

While the regular A7 isn’t overly fancy, the RS7 comes standard with sports seats wrapped in Valcona leather. They also features a honeycomb pattern on the seating surfaces and the seatbacks, as well as "RS" embossing. The red stitching provides a striking contrast against the black leather. The steering wheel is also of the RS variety, so it comes with a flat bottom and wrapped in perforated leather. The shift paddles are larger and made from aluminum on this model. You’ll also find an RS Mode button that you can use to activate the RS1 or RS2 modes. These automatically open the RS-specific displays in the Audi virtual cockpit.

The door panels and the dashboard are also covered in leather, but they also feature extensive aluminum trim. You can also select visible carbon-fiber elements for the lower dashboard and the upper door panels, as well as on the center console. The gear selector is wrapped in Alcantara, a small yet nice touch.

2020 Audi RS7 Drivetrain
- image 860489
Trunk space with the rear seats in place is rated at 18.9 cubic feet, which is identical to the outgoing model

As far as convenience goes, the RS7 is available with a three-seater rear bench for the very time. This configuration enables the car to seat five people comfortably, but it remains versatile thanks to a split rear bench that can be folded down. Trunk space with the rear seats in place is rated at 18.9 cubic feet, which is identical to the outgoing model. Fold the seats and capacity increases to 49.1 cubic feet, also identical to the previous generation.

While it may be a bit disappointing that there is no extra cargo room with the new generation, the RS7 is actually a spacious car, especially when compared to its rivals. The Mercedes-Benz CLS (or the AMG CLS53 version) offers 18.3 cubic feet of space with the rear seats up, so you get an extra 0.6 cubic feet in the RS7. That’s more than the slightly bigger BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe as well. The German four-door coupe is rated at only 15.5 cubic feet, which is 3.6 cubic feet less than the RS7. Compared to the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe, rated at 16.1 cubic feet, the RS7 comes with an extra 2.8 cubic feet. The RS7 wins when compared to the Panamera as well. This German sedan can swallow up to 17.5 cubic feet, a 1.4 cubic feet deficit.

For added convenience, the tailgate opens and closes electrically as standard, but an optional key will allow you to operate it by foot gesture control.

Drivetrain

  • Twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8
  • 48-volt mild hybrid system
  • 600 horsepower
  • 590 pound-feet of torque
  • 0 to 62 mph in 3.6 seconds
  • Top speed of 155 mph
  • Slower than most competitors
  • Eight-speed automatic transmission
  • Cylinder deactivation
  • Sportier suspension
2020 Audi RS7 Drivetrain
- image 860499
The second-generation RS7 features a twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V-8 engine just like its predecessor

Moving to the bits that you’ve been waiting for, the second-generation RS7 features a twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V-8 engine just like its predecessor. However, this revised mill also includes a 48-volt electrical system, which makes it a mild hybrid. The drivetrain cranks out a solid 600 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque, a notable improvement over the old model. Specifically, the old RS7 came with 560 horses and 516 pound-feet on tap. This means that the second-gen RS7 benefits from an extra 40 horsepower and 74 pound-feet of twist. Not bad for a generational shift.

The range-topping version of the A7 is the quickest of the bunch, needing only 3.6 seconds to hit 62 mph. That’s three tenths quicker than the old RS7. Top speed is limited to the usual 155 mph, identical to its predecessor. Unfortunately, the upgrade that Audi offers on some RS models, which increases top speed to 174 mph, isn’t available for the Sportback.

2020 Audi RS7 Drivetrain
- image 860497
The drivetrain cranks out a solid 600 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque

But let’s see how it compares to its rivals. Traditionally, the RS7 competes with the Mercedes-AMG CLS63. However, Mercedes-Benz has yet to launch such a version for the third-generation CLS and we might not see one anytime soon. The most powerful CLS right now is the AMG CLS53, and even though it also features a 48-volt system, it has a 3.0-liter inline-six and it generates "only" 457 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque. That’s obvious not enough to compete with the RS7, not to mention that the Merc is almost a full second slower to 62 mph.

But there’s a reason why the CLS doesn’t have a 63 version. Mercedes now offers a second four-door coupe called the AMG GT 4-Door Coupe. It’s essentially an AMG GT with four doors and seating for four people and this car is available with more powerful engines. The GT63 model, for instance, features a twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V-8 that cranks out 577 horses ad 553 pound-feet of torque. That’s 23 horses and 37 pound-feet less than the RS7, but this Merc is two tenths quicker to 62 mph and tops out at a whopping 193 mph. Mercedes also offers a GT63 S version that’s more powerful than the RS7 at 630 horsepower and 664 pound-feet. That’s an extra 30 horses and 74 pound-feet. The GT63 S needs only 3.2 seconds to hit 62 mph and can go on to a top speed of 196 mph.

The RS7’s second traditional competitor, the BMW M6 Gran Coupe, is no longer in production, but the German company now offers the 8 Series Gran Coupe, also available in M8 trim. Sure, it’s slightly longer than the RS7, but not enough to place it in a different segment. The M8 Gran Coupe comes with a 4.4-liter V-8 in two flavors. The regular M8 generates 591 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque, while the M8 Competition delivers 617 horsepower. While the M8 is slightly less powerful, it’s two tenths quicker to 62 mph with a 3.3-second rating. The M8 Competition hits the same benchmark in 3.2 seconds, three tenths quicker. While the "base" M8 hits a top speed of 155 mph, the M8 Competition tops out at a more impressive 189 mph.

The belt alternator starter can recover up to 12 kW of power and then feed it into the lithium-ion battery as electricity

Now that we know how the RS7 compares to its rival, let’s have a look at the remaining drivetrain components. Like most new-launched Audis, the RS7 adopted a 48-volt in the interest of higher efficiency. The belt alternator starter can recover up to 12 kW of power and then feed it into the lithium-ion battery as electricity. This happens when you release the gas pedal at a speed between 34 to 99 mph, but only if the car’s computer doesn’t decide to activate the coasting function with the engine switched off. This depends on the driving situation, but also on the setting you selected in the Audi Drive Select system.

The 48-volt system also operates the stop-start function that saves gas by stopping the engine when you are waiting at a stoplight. However, the RS7 is a bit different than most vehicles that have this feature. This system usually restarts the engine when you lift you foot off the brake pedal and touch the gas, but the RS7 will restart the engine as soon as the vehicle in front starts moving, even if you keep pressing the brakes.

2020 Audi RS7 Drivetrain
- image 860507
The 4.0-liter V-8 mates to an eight-speed Tiptronic transmission, just like before

Another feature that helps improve fuel economy is the Cylinder On Demand system, or more commonly known as cylinder deactivation. It deactivates cylinders two, three, five, and eight by halting injection and ignition, leaving the engine to operate in four-cylinder mode. The engine works like this in higher gears at low to medium loads and engine speeds, but the cylinder are reactivated as soon as you press the gas pedal. Audi says that the switch takes only a few milliseconds and you won’t even notice it. Cylinder deactivation and the 48-volt systems are supposed to reduce fuel consumption by as much as 0.8 liters per 100 km.

The 4.0-liter V-8 mates to an eight-speed Tiptronic transmission, just like before, but Audi optimized the unit for the more powerful engine. It has optimized shift times, a new launch control function, and a 40:60 front-rear distribution. The latter is distributed by a mechanical center differential that can send up to 70 percent of torque to the front axle and up to 85 percent of torque to the rear wheels. Naturally, the RS7 comes with a permanent Quattro all-wheel-drive system.

2020 Audi RS7 Drivetrain
- image 860511

The chassis is heavily based on the regular A7, but the suspension system is unique to this model. The RS7 rides on RS-specific adaptive air suspension with controlled damping and automatic leveling, and three different modes. The default position keeps the RS7 0.8 inches lower than the A7 and lowers the body a further 0.4 inches at speeds of up to 74 mph.

You can use the Audi Drive Select function to change the character of the RS7. It features six profiles, including the familiar Comfort, Auto, Efficiency, and Dynamic, as well as to RS-specific setups. They’re called RS1 and RS2 and you can enable them via an RS Mode button on the steering wheel.

Pricing

2020 Audi RS7 Exterior
- image 860518

Pricing for the new RS7 is not yet available, but it should start from around $120,000. This will translate into a premium of more than $50,000 over the base Audi A7, priced from $68,000, but it’s the kind of sticker you should expect for the range-topping Sportback. If you think it’s a lot, you should know that the Mercedes-AMG GT63 4-Door Coupe costs a lot more at $136,500. Likewise, the upcoming BMW M8 Gran Coupe will fetch in excess of $130,000 before options.

Competition

Mercedes-AMG CLS53

2019 Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4Matic
- image 761029

The third-generation CLS is basically new in 2019, as the four-door coupe went in production in 2018. Just like its predecessor, the third-gen car comes with an AMG badge as well, but the German firm dropped the range-topping CLS63 model. As of October 2019, the only AMG-badged CLS is the CLS53, which isn’t as sporty and powerful as the Audi RS7. Essentially a competitor for the lower-trim S7, the AMG CLS53 features a 3.0-liter inline-six instead of a V-8. Aided by a 48-volt mild hybrid system, the drivetrain in this car packs up to 457 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque. Granted, it falls way behind the Audi RS7 when it comes to oomph and it’s also notably slower to 62 mph, needing 4.5 seconds to get there, almost a second slower than the Audi. The only advantage here is that the AMG CLS53 is notably more affordable than the RS7 with a starting price set at $79,900.

Read our full story on the 2019 Mercedes-AMG CLS53

Mercedes-AMG GT63 4-Door Coupe

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe Exterior
- image 772222
It has the aggressive AMG GT front end

There’s a good reason why Mercedes doesn’t offer an AMG 63 version of the CLS, and it’s called the AMG GT 4-Door Coupe. Essentially a sleeker version of the CLS or a four-door AMG GT, this sedan is available with AMG-prepped engines only. And unlike the CLS, it comes in 63 and 63 S trims as well. The GT63 model features a twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V-8 that cranks out 577 horses ad 553 pound-feet of torque. That’s 23 horses and 37 pound-feet less than the RS7, but the lower output doesn’t stop it from being two tenths quicker to 62 mph. Its top speed is also higher at 193 mph. The same engine powers the GT63 S version, but it’s tuned to deliver 630 horsepower and 664 pound-feet. That’s an extra 30 horses and 74 pound-feet, so this version is naturally even faster to 62 mph. It needs 3.2 seconds to hit the benchmark and it tops out at 196 mph. The AMG GT63 model starts from $136,500, which should be only slightly more expensive than the RS7. The AMG GT63 S version, on the other hand, breaks the bank at a whopping $159,000.

Read our full review of the 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT63 4-Door Coupe

Porsche Panamera Turbo

2018 Porsche Panamera High Resolution Exterior
- image 681041

The Panamera is also some sort of four-door coupe, so I guess it qualifies as a competitor for the Audi RS7. The second-generation arrived in 2017 so it’s still relatively fresh. It has a sporty, modern design, a high-tech premium interior, and powerful engines in the more expensive trims. The Turbo model features a 4.0-liter V-8 engine that cranks out a solid 542 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque. Almost as powerful as the RS7, it’s just as quick to 62 mph with a 3.6-second benchmark. The only Panamera that cranks out more oomph is the Turbo S E-Hybrid. A full-fledged hybrid with an electric motor, this sedan hits the ground with an impressive 677 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of twist on tap. The sprint to 62 mph takes only 3.4 seconds, while top speed is rated at 193 mph. As cool as it may sound, the Panamera Turbo is way more expensive than the Audi RS7, coming in at $153,000. The Turbo S E-Hybrid model goes even beyond that at $187,700 before options.

Read our full story on the 2019 Porsche Panamera Turbo

BMW M8 Gran Coupe

2020 BMW M8 Gran Coupe Exterior
- image 865755

With the M6 Gran Coupe no longer available, the M8 Gran Coupe steps in as a competitor for the RS7. Granted, the 8 Series Gran Coupe is tad longer than the A7, but the difference isn’t very significant. The M8 Gran Coupe is a more aggressive version of the 8 Series Gran Coupe design-wise or a four-door version of the M8 Coupe. It’s powered by a 4.4-liter V-8 rated at 591 horsepower and 553 pound-feet, just like the Coupe, which sends it to 62 mph in 3.3 seconds. BMW also offers a Competition version with 617 horsepower. This model reaches 62 mph in only 3.2 seconds, to go with a top speed of 189 mph. Pricing for this sedan will probably start from at least $130,000.

Read our speculative review of the 2020 BMW M8 Gran Coupe.

Final Thoughts

2020 Audi RS7 Exterior
- image 860458

The RS7 is one of the hottest sedans on the market ever since it arrived in 2013. The redesign only makes things that much hotter, mostly thanks to the more angular and aggressive exterior design. While the CLS lost some of its unique looks through redesigns, the RS7 become more appealing after its single revamp. The good news is that the RS7 is also more powerful now and offers some fuel saving thanks to its 48-volt mild hybrid system. It’s not as powerful as the range-topping Mercedes-AMG GT63 S 4-Door Coupe or the upcoming BMW M8 Competition Gran Coupe, but it’s not far behind either. Coupled with the fact that it could be notably more affordable than the competition, the RS7 should be a solid option in a sea of expensive Mercs, BMWs, and Porsches.

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