An Audi S7 is not just purchased; it is optioned as if selecting the suit, belt, shoes, shirt, and hankie from the finest clothier who wraps it all in one streamlined ribbon-wrapped package. If an A7 is a good suit from Men’s Wearhouse, the S7 is carbon-stitched Armani with stretch for a zip zap between meetings. It’s beautiful, comfy, and runs like an athlete. It’s also properly expensive.
Since the classic era, fastback luxury cars conveyed a sense of formality for active drivers. It’s also true of the S7 with its clean bodylines, sleek roof, and updated Audi grille with four-ring logo. With little flash, the design relies on LED headlamps and taillights, edgy side sills, and adaptive rear spoiler that deploys at speed to keep the rump planted. The Black Optic package adds fender-filling 21” alloy wheels, gloss black rear diffuser, and quad black exhaust outlets. From any angle, the car looks wide and exotic.
Slide under the low roof to a four-place cabin ready for a long flight. Like all Audis, the forms are restrained, but our Design edition entices with heated Valcona quilted leather seats in Arras red, suede door panels, and flat-bottom leather-wrapped steering wheel with contrast stitching. Look closer and you realize the optional giant chunks of red-infused carbon twill on the console, dash, and doors are authentic (wood is standard). They glisten in daylight and appear as a deep abyss. Place feet on aluminum pedals.
There’s plenty of gear – much based in Audi’s MMI infotainment system with screen, console touchpad, and joywheel. Four-zone automatic climate control and Bose surround sound add comfort while a head-up display, navigation, and rearview camera help keep the journey on-track. Bluetooth with audio streaming and 4G Wi-Fi connect iThings. Adaptive cruise control, active lane assist, and corner view camera system enhance safety. Load luggage through a power hatch, open the power sunroof, and go for a drive.
Putting the zip and zap into a busy day is a turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine that delivers 450 horsepower and 406 lb.-ft. of torque – all routed to the more responsive Quattro all-wheel-drive system. Shifting power is a 7-speed S Tronic automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Properly throttled, the S7 lunges from 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds on the way to a governed 155 mph top speed. Auto stop/start enables fuel economy ratings of 17/27-MPG city/hwy.
While all refined, multiple personalities sync with the driver’s mood. The drive select system, controlled through MMI, adjusts the air suspension, steering, transmission, and throttle for “Comfort”, “Auto”, “Dynamic” (sport), or customizable “Individual”. In none of these modes will the S7 float over bumps or kiss your cheeks, and those big wheels transmit every bump, but it is not exceedingly harsh. Dynamic steering automatically adjusts the ratio for quicker or more relaxed reaction depending on speed and input. It’s a sophisticated suite of technology for a world-class sophisticate.
A practical Audiphile looking for a mid-size sedan would choose the A6 – a roomier ride with a slighter sticker. But, that’s so boring. A real actively elegant gent will step a little left, place himself in a more expressive design, and revel in all the rarer road reveals. He’ll just have to dig deep for the as-tested $95,525. His new ride will compare favorably against the Mercedes-Benz CLS, BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe, and Cadillac CTS V-Sport.
2016 Audi S7
Four-passenger, AWD “Coupe”
Powertrain: 450hp 4.0-liter T-V8, 7-spd auto trans
Suspension f/r: Air Ind/Ind
Wheels: 21”/21” alloy f/r
Brakes: disc/disc fr/rr
Must-have features: Style, dynamics
0-60 mph: 4.5s
Top speed: 155 mph (governed)
Fuel economy: 17/27 mpg city/hwy
Assembly: Neckarsulm, Germany
Base (A7)/as-tested price: $68,800/95,525