Photo: 2016 Audi RS7 performance Photo 1
Rain tries to keep us from enjoying Audi‘s Autobahn beasts, but we persevere
What is it?
Audi has goosed the horsepower in two of its performance leaders, the S8 and RS7, and named them S8 plus and RS7 performance.
The ’16 S8 plus packs a 4.0-liter turbo V8 with an eight-speed Tiptronic trans. The V8 is updated and now cranks out 605 hp (up 85 hp) and 516 lb-ft while an extra 73 lb-ft is available through overboost. Audi says the car rockets to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds on to a 155-mph top speed (the available Dynamic package bumps top speed to 190 mph). To help cut understeer, the Quattro system comes standard with a torque-vectoring rear diff to constantly adjust the torque each wheel receives. Adaptive sport air suspension is also standard. To set it apart from your garden variety A8, the plus’ aluminum body has a small, body-colored rear spoiler and silver mirror housings, along with titanium wheels. Opt for the aforementioned Dynamic package and you get ceramic brakes, carbon rear spoiler and sport exhaust.
Meanwhile, RS7 performance shares the S8 plus’ 4.0-liter V8 and overboost, making it a tenth quicker to 60 mph. Top speed is 190 mph. The RS7’s eight-speed Tiptronic can be used in automatic or manual mode — just tap the gear lever or use the paddles. Changes to the performance model include carbon ceramic brakes, adjustable sport suspension, rear diffuser, carbon mirror housings, 21-inch wheels and sport seats. You can opt for black leather/Alcantara seats with blue contrast stitching and carbon twill blue inlays.
Photo: 2016 Audi RS7 performance Photo 2
What are they like to drive?
We wish we could tell you more. We flew to Miami to jump in both an S8 plus and a RS7 performance – the idea was to blast up to Daytona for the Rolex 24.
Unfortunately, torrential rain most of the day turned a decent plan into us hoping to just get to Daytona without pranging one of Audi’s $110K-plus projectiles. Still, we were able to learn a few things.
The 4.0-liter V8 is outstanding in both cars, and in the RS7 with sport exhaust sounds even more like a troublemaker. Hit the start button, and the V8 thunders awake — it made us shiver and we hadn’t even left the parking lot yet.
Audi was quick to remind us the cars were on summer tires, so we didn’t exactly stomp on the gas, though we’re quite sure both would burn up dry pavement. We did boot them enough to realize things were going to happen awfully fast, though; in fact, while both are quick off the line, they feel best when moving along in a hurry. Midrange punch? Oh yes, and the standing water wasn’t really a factor: Quattro and electronics made sure the cars just ate up central Florida’s flat, straight roads with no hesitation whatsoever.
We’d love to tell you how effective the Dynamic suspension modes – Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual — are, but again, Florida is flat and straight, so it didn’t really matter. We’ve driven RS7s before, though, and can say Comfort and Auto modes do a good job toning the ride down some while Dynamic offers quicker throttle response, weightier steering and louder exhaust, while eliminating body roll. Playing it safe in the deluge on the way to the Rolex we thought Comfort was best.
Both cars’ interiors are sublime as we expect from Audi; clean, intuitive controls, not too many buttons, well built, great materials, marvelous switchgear … you get the idea. At one point, our co-driver plopped down into the S8’s passenger seat, looked around and sighed, “Why can’t all car companies do interiors like Audi?” Good question. Why can’t they? Audi interiors always make us feel special.
Do I want one?
Or both? If gobbling mile after mile quickly and comfortably is the aim, we’re hard-pressed to think of faster, more pleasant ways to do it. Both the RS7 and S8 are self-assured, confident and really, really fast. They’re at home quietly cruising along at posted limits, or, you know, beyond them.
After a day heading up the soaked Florida coast, we arrived in Daytona as relaxed as though the drive had taken an hour. With both cars still in one piece, we got out, kissed the pavement, and settled in for a terrific Rolex 24. The rains went away and under gorgeous blue skies, the Audi Sport customer team Magnus Racing fittingly took the GTD class, handing Ingolstadt its second Rolex win since 2013.
Here’s an idea: To get more seat time maybe we take one (or both) from Detroit to Sebring, March 16-19 — the next IMSA round. That might work …
Gallery: 2016 Audi S8 plus