Let’s play p Re­tend

OK, I’m a race­car driver, and you’re a race­car. Yeah, who are we kid­ding? wheels’ De­jan Jo­vanovic gets a sec­ond im­pres­sion from the Audi RS 7 in Dubai

Friday - - Recipe Cards -

W hen I first drove the RS 7 in Ger­many last year it wasn’t love at first sight. Well, ac­tu­ally it was, es­pe­cially in a sin­is­ter Nardo grey and with black-ac­cented wheels, but then I drove it and we went our sep­a­rate ways. That is to say I wanted to go right while the RS 7 wanted to un­der­steer left.

At high speed the RS 7 is a mir­a­cle on four wheels, es­pe­cially since it’s mo­ti­vated by pos­si­bly the great­est twin-tur­bocharged V8 on the planet. Through gen­tly curv­ing Ger­man coun­try­side, on or off the au­to­bahn, you can munch miles to München and never get full – it’s a bril­liant grand tourer.

Un­for­tu­nately on the back it doesn’t say GT 7. It says RS 7, and that pre­fix stands for rennsport, which is Ger­man for rac­ing ba­si­cally, or mo­tor­sport. Well, that’s a lie.

To be a real sports sa­loon in the vein of a hot AMG or BMWM

prod­uct, it needs a com­plete re­think. The RS 7 is fun­da­men­tally flawed from the be­gin­ning, with its glo­ri­ous V8 shunned to the naughty cor­ner ahead of the front axle. This gives it a fairly rubbish weight dis­tri­bu­tion of nearly 60:40 the wrong way round, while the car’s sport dif­fer­en­tial splits torque 40:60 favour­ing the rear. Cou­ple that to elec­tronic steer­ing with ab­so­lutely zero feel or con­nect­ed­ness to the driver and it’s back-of-the-grid rennsport at best. A sport­scar it ain’t, comes up in less than four sec­onds and 200kph may as well take an­other four but by then try­ing to an­chor the thing down is ter­ri­fy­ing. There’s nowhere in the coun­try to drive this thing. Its best at­tribute – glo­ri­ously fast and safe GT driv­ing – is com­pletely lost on our dead-straight roads with Big Brother sta­tioned ev­ery two klicks.

When let loose, say from coast to coast, the RS 7 can hardly be beaten and I in­clude ma­chines from Bent­ley and co in that state­ment. It even rides nicely, es­pe­cially with op­tional air sus­pen­sion and de­spite costlier 21in wheels with lower-pro­file tyres.

I keep com­ing back to the en­gine. It’s ob­vi­ously what you’re pay­ing for be­cause they didn’t bother much with the rest – the 4.0-litre twin-turbo is my favourite mega-power Ger­man V8 at the mo­ment, with but­tery power de­liv­ery and 700Nm from 1,750rpm.

Some­how they’ve man­aged to make it sound like Somme circa 1916. Ev­ery­one needs to ex­pe­ri­ence this kind of cor­rup­tive power, if only to com­pre­hend their uni­ver­sal triv­i­al­ity.

So why have I praised the RS 6 Avant and fallen out with the ba­si­cally

They’ve man­aged to make it sound like the Somme circa 1916

but then again I ar­gued the same thing about the M6 Gran Coupé, which is all but un­drive­able with the elec­tron­ics switched off and too heavy to be truly en­joyed if you man­age to tame it any­way.

So I fig­ured the RS 7 may give a bet­ter sec­ond im­pres­sion here in the UAE, but we’re still try­ing to go our sep­a­rate ways. I just don’t get it. (I es­pe­cially don’t get all-wheel drive in our cli­mate.) It weighs two tonnes. The ki­netic en­ergy is scary – 100kph iden­ti­cal RS 7 Sport­back? Be­cause the Avant laughs at it­self while the RS 7 is much too se­ri­ous – mate, you’re just not as spe­cial as you think.

I drove the Avant on the au­to­bahn and touched 270-280kph in an es­tate that can take a fam­ily, the dog and your lug­gage, while shrug­ging its shoul­ders. It doesn’t pre­tend to be rennsport, but it lives up to be­ing a bonkers, us­able fam­ily time trav­eller. I can’t stand pre­tenders…

Great, now I haveThe Pre­tenders in my head.


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