This past year, I spent the Christmas holidays with a 2015 Audi S6, a car I loved so much I didn’t want to give it back at the end of my two week loan period. It’s understated, deceptively fast, and even practical. However, the S6 has a sibling in the Audi lineup, and I had yet to ever give it a go. My colleague and I had to make a road trip to Bear Mountain, New York to attend a US media event, and our friends at Audi Canada were kind enough to offer up a 2015 Audi S7 for the trip.
The S7 shares most of its styling with the “regular” A7 and the monster that is the RS7. In fact, it’s placed smack dab in the middle of the lineup, and is easily forgotten by many when considering how much media attention the RS7 was showered with upon its introduction last year. The S7 is no slouch though, and it definitely looks the part. Our tester was equipped with the Black Optics Package that blacks out the grille, mirrors, and a few other styling bits around the car to help the sinister look. It was painted in a gorgeous Oolong Grey, but appears a menacing black from most angles.
Often mistaken to be stunning sedans, the Audi A7/S7/RS7 are technically hatchbacks. This, of course, means the S7 is slightly more versatile and practical than the S6, which was of huge benefit to us when loading the car up with a ton of camera gear as well as luggage for our trip. The car easily ate it up in the trunk area, and the power-operated liftgate certainly helps with the practicality angle. Otherwise, interior space and layout is essentially the same. Even though it’s a hatchback, the S7’s competitors remain four-door coupés, which is a segment the car easily fits into. When compared with the BMW 650i Gran Coupé, Porsche Panamera, and Mercedes-Benz CLS550, the S7 is the best combination between sportiness and precision.
Under the hood of the S7 is a powertrain it shares with the S6, a 4.0L biturbo V8 that purrs like an angry bobcat upon pushing the engine start button. It pumps out 420 horsepower at 5500rpm, and produces a ground-crushing 406 lb-ft of torque at 1500rpm. Those looking for a little bit more torque and a more subtle engine option might want to consider the A7 TDI, which is also a fantastic choice. As I came to discover when driving the S6, this engine reaches desired speeds deceptively quickly, and the car cruises in such a smooth manner it’s unbelievable. The RS7 is obviously quite a bit faster, but it makes you aware that you’re going quickly, unlike this S7.
The only transmission choice available here is a 7-speed S-tronic dual-clutch unit. It’s one of the best units out there right now, and its precision has been developed to a point of near-perfection. Other Audi products make use of the 8-speed ZF-sourced automatic, but the S-tronic is a much sportier choice and is definitely mated to the S7’s powertrain nicely. Additionally, the S7 is only available with quattro all-wheel-drive, so buyers having to endure brutal Canadian winters won’t have to worry about putting their car away as the fluffy and slippery white stuff starts to come down.
With Audi Drive Select, there are virtually endless combinations to personalize your driving experience. This system uses the on-board computers to adjust variables like the engine/transmission, belt tensioner, air suspension, sport differential, adaptive cruise control, and even engine sound. All of these can be toggled between Normal, Dynamic, and Comfort. In Dynamic the entire car wakes up and becomes a fierce animal, but I chose to leave it in the “Individual” setting for the majority of our drive. We set up this setting to leave everything in “Comfort” except for the adaptive cruise control and engine sound, both of which were left in Dynamic, for “scientific” reasons.
The key discovery we made over the course of our 1800km road trip was the sheer realization that a 4500lb four-door with a biturbo V8 doesn’t need to be a gas guzzler. Throughout our drive, the car very consistently returned numbers in the 8.5L/100km range thanks to the clever cylinder deactivation. This was achieved cruising within 5mph of the posted speed limit, using radar cruise control (part of the Driver Assistant Package), and being conservative with the throttle. Simply put, if you resist the temptation to use all 420 horses, your wallet will thank you for it. Our total fuel mileage for the trip was an admirable 8.8L/100km on premium fuel. I do wish the S7 had a larger fuel tank; the 75L capacity empties out quicker than I’d like. Thanks to ideal weather conditions and light-footed highway driving, we averaged considerably better economy with the S7 than we did with the S6.
There are parts of this Audi’s interior that are starting to look slightly dated in comparison with some of the latest stuff in their lineup. There’s nothing to worry about though, because the refreshed 2016 S6/S7 are almost here, and Audi’s research & development team has ensured that all of these concerns have been fixed. Even still, when compared to the rest of the automotive industry, the S7’s interior is quite competitive. The interior is lined with great materials, and the seats have a fantastic quilted design. Our specific S7 also had carbon fiber dashboard trim as well as on all door panels and other parts of the interior. The MMI system is great, but needs the software updates that we saw with the latest A3/S3 family. Additionally, the sunshade for the rear window is manually operated, which is a bit of a nuisance for long highway runs through differing weather conditions.
Wonderful interior appointments go a long way in making an already comfortable car feel even more relaxing on a road trip. Our S7 was equipped with enough options to bring the sticker up from a base price of $92,900 to an as-tested $107,200. The $6,500 Bang & Olufsen sound system is a must-have in any Audi product, and I’d wager that most buyers would also opt for the $4,400 Driver Assistant Package, which includes things like adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist. As cool as the $2,500 Night Vision option is, I don’t really think it’s necessary and I’d skip it if buying this car. All S7s come with leather interior, a sunroof, a power-extending rear spoiler, an intelligent key system, and dual-zone automatic climate control.
Regardless of the refresh coming up, the 2015 Audi S7 still remains one of the most badass cars on the road. This was evidenced by the sheer amount of looks and thumbs-ups we got while traversing Interstate-90 all the way to Bear Mountain. Ominous and evil are two words that I would use to describe its styling, and it definitely has the bite to match its bark. It’s a car I fell for quite hard, and it’s one I’d easily pony up the extra few thousand dollars over the S6. Some may argue that the more “realistic” choice is the S6, but those people probably haven’t spent a decent amount of time with this car.
2015 Audi S7 Gallery