2013 Audi S7 first drive review

Four-door coupes are all the rage these days, so it seems logical to us that Audi would opt to introduce an S version of its popular A7. Like the all-new-for 2013 Audi S6, the S7 rides on the Volkswagen group’s MLB platform and benefits from a new 4.0-liter, twin-turbo V-8 engine mated to a seven-speed S tronic gearbox, but that’s where the similarities end.

Not only does the S7 present itself with more sweeping and graceful exterior styling, it also feels a bit more refined and less boisterous than its sedan stablemate. It’s roomier on the inside, too, thanks to the S7’s 1.4-inch increase in width over the S6. While both cars ride on a 114.7-inch wheelbase, the S7 grows in length by 1.7 inches.

That added size adds weight, but not as much as you’d think. The S7 tips the scales at 4,508 pounds, which is just 110 pounds more than the S6. In a straight line, you’ll never notice the difference in acceleration or braking, and the S7 is still fully capable of delivering impressive handling when the road throws you a curve.

The S7 shares the S6’s biturbo 4.0-liter V-8, which is all new for 2013. The engine is a masterpiece of compact design, with both twin-scroll turbos positioned in the valley between the cylinder banks, instead of outside the engine.

The intercooler assembly sits atop the engine, and intake and exhaust ports are located opposite of where you’d find them in conventional engine designs. Intake air enters on the outside of the cylinder heads, while the exhaust exits on the inside of the cylinder heads; Audi claims this design helps to keep intake air cooler.

Since the catalysts can be positioned very close to the exhaust exit, they quickly reach operating temperature for reduced emissions. The overall design of the engine makes it the most compact turbocharged V-8 engine in the world, which allows Audi greater interior room to work with.

While the S7 makes 420 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, technologies like cylinder on demand (which turns the 4.0-liter V-8 into a 2.0-liter V-4) help the car deliver up to 27 mpg highway and 17 mpg in the city. That’s impressive for a car that can also reel off 0-60 mph runs in 4.5 seconds and achieve a governed top speed of 155 mph.

Ensuring that torque is turned into forward motion regardless of conditions is the job of the quattro all-wheel-drive system, which comes standard with Audi’s sport differential on U.S.-spec models. S models also get a unique air suspension with an adjustable ride height, not available in the A model range.

Inside, the S7 blends equal parts sport and luxury, serving up an interior that we’d have no trouble calling class-leading. The sport seats, with their thick bolsters and quilted stitching are, in a word, superb, and the carbon fiber trim used throughout the interior is exquisite.

As for attention to detail, consider this: the skyliner trim above the dash is a single piece of carbon fiber. It would have been much easier and less expensive to piece together three or four panels, but that wouldn’t have looked quite as polished to Audi’s interior designers.

There’s plenty of technology in the new S7, too. Each new S model is a 3G mobile hotspot, thanks to Audi’s relationship with T Mobile. Google voice provides easy access to information on businesses or locations, and Google Earth-based maps make navigation nearly foolproof.

Audi’s Drive Select is present and accounted for, too, and it gives users three basic settings for vehicle performance and ride comfort. The best handling is achieved in Dynamic mode, which drops the suspension to the lowest ride height, quickens steering, improves throttle response and decreases shift times.

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