Audi is set to take the fight to the recently unveiled BMW M6 GranCoupe and an upgraded Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG with a new 412kW twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 powered RS7 Sportback.
Pictured here for the first time in production guise following an unveiling at this week’s 2013 Detroit motor show, the introduction of the rapid luxury liftback extends Audi’s performance based RS line-up to six models.
Australian launch details are yet to be announced, but officials suggest the new five-door will reach local dealerships sometime during the third quarter of 2013 at a price on the high side of $200,000.
The RS7 Sportback is the second model after the RS6 Avant to receive Audi’s latest RS styling treatment.
Distinguishing features include an aggressive looking front bumper with large cooling ducts that include vertical mounted vanes in for improved airflow to the radiator, intercoolers and front brakes.
The grille also receives a unique look with a, high gloss honeycomb insert and RS7 badge. Buyers can choose to further differentiate the new car from lesser A7 models through an optional element in the lower section of the grille containing the word quattro. Audi also offers clear coat carbon fibre in place of the standard matt silver trim.
Further back, there are widened front and rear fenders, chunkier sills underneath the doors, a second RS7 badge attached to the boot lid and a deeper rear bumper that incorporates a more prominent diffuser element and houses two large exhausts.
Power for the RS7 Sportback hails from the same twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine used by the recently unveiled third-generation RS6 Avant, alongside which it will be assembled at Audi’s Neckarsulm plant in Germany.
The 90-degree unit runs a maximum 1.2 bar of boost pressure to produce 412kW at 5700rpm and 750Nm of torque on a band of revs between 1750 and 5500rpm – some 103kW and 200Nm more than the less powerful version of the same engine found in the $179,900 S7 Sportback.
The new M6 GranCoupe’s twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 kicks out the same 412kW. However, it offers 70Nm of torque less at 680Nm.
The CLS63 AMG is planned to adopt the same upgraded twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8 engine as that unveiled in the facelifted E63 AMG, with a nominal 410kW and 720Nm or a sharper 430kW and 800Nm in combination with an optional S-model package.
Owing to the inability of Audi’s seven-speed dual clutch gearbox to handle the heady torque loading of its engine, the RS7 Sportback receives a standard eight speed automatic transmission. It operates in combination with the latest evolution of the German car maker’s Quattro four-wheel-drive system, offering the choice between D (drive), S (sport) and M (manual) modes.
The Torsen torque sensing four-wheel-drive system receives a standard self locking differential. A so-called sports differential, which continuously alters the distribution of drive between the rear wheels in a torque vectoring process, will be an option.
Audi is yet to confirm a weight figure for its latest RS model but claims it delivers 0-100km/h acceleration in 3.9 seconds and a nominal top speed limited to 250km/h. Buyers can choose to raise the top speed to 280km/h with an optional dynamic package and to 305km/h with a dynamic plus package.
By way of comparison, the S7 Sportback boasts figures of 4.9 seconds and 250km/h.
BMW claims the rear-wheel drive M6 GranCoupe is capable of running 0-100km/h in 4.1 seconds, while Mercedes-Benz sources suggest the upgraded rear-wheel-drive CLS63 AMG will boast the same 0-100km/h time as the new E63 AMG at 4.2 seconds and supercar-challenging 3.6 seconds with the optional S-model package.
With a raft of contemporary fuel saving features, including automatic stop/start, brake energy recuperation and a cylinder on demand system that deactivates four cylinders via electromechanical actuators on part throttle loads, the RS7 Sportback is also said to deliver combined fuel consumption of 9.8L/100km on the European test cycle.
Underpinning the RS7 Sportback is a heavily reworked version of the standard A7 Sportback’s chassis boasting widened tracks and air suspension. Audi will also offers it new performance model with an optional steel sprung suspension in combination with dynamic ride control as part of a package known as sport suspension plus – a move that is reflected on the new RS6 Avant. Further chassis options include a so-called Drive Select program that brings a more direct steering ratio.