2014 Audi RS 7 to the Cascades. Click image to enlarge
Review and photos by Brendan McAleer
It is more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow. A surfeit of horsepower is a liability on speed-restricted public roads. These are some basic truths I ordinarily adhere to – so what use mile-wide gummy tires, all-wheel-drive and half a Veyron’s worth of firepower when limits are set based on the handling characteristics of Corollas on low-rolling-resistance tires?
Here I am, sitting a comfortable distance behind a poky crossover ignoring the pullouts all along a winding road leading ever deeper into the Cascade mountain range. Ahead, the satellite navigation shows a route that shucks and jives like the inkwork of Salvador Dali’s signature, but it’s a pair of double yellows that underline the way the drive’s going to go.
In an MX-5, you’d need patience, and a little more room. With this beast, you just need a waver in the road, an opening, a sudden change from double-yellow to a dotted-line on the right. It’s the briefest of straights, a slight hillock showing clear road ahead and legal permission to effect a pass. “Hang on,” I tell my passenger, “We’re jumping to plaid.”
With a hissing roar the big red Audi lunges forward, going for the jugular. Little drama, immense speed – there’s simply a gargantuan wave of thrust and we’re past and into clear roads ahead, the road wriggling through the pines as if it wasn’t in any particular hurry to get where it’s going. I am: we’re four hours behind schedule, there’s miles to cover yet, and daylight waits for no man.
A loop through the Cascades, that’s the plan, a brief road trip for college buddies who now have kids and mortgages and enough burdens of responsibility to want to set them down for a while. The Audi’s growl fades to a purr as the speed comes off, but it’s still relentless, coursing along as if that big grille has caught the scent of bigger prey.
I like small cars. I like nimble, deft machinery that requires a driver to stir the pot with a snick-snick gearshift and work hard keeping the momentum up. I prefer knife-fighters to broadsword battlers – but then here comes Audi with the nuclear option.
This bright red (Yes, officer?) Audi RS7 packs a twin-turbo 4.0L V8 under its hood, one that huffs out a scarcely-credible 560 hp. It’ll eat a base-model R8 for lunch, put the boots to non-turbo 911 variants, and essentially run amok through most sportscars, bloody to the elbows. When first I heard of it, my immediate thought was: well now, that’s a bit silly.
Given the pace of the standard S6 and S7, the idea that even more power was somehow warranted seemed ludicrous. Never mind over-egging the pudding, Ingolstadt has doused it in kerosene and then crowned it with fondant made from plastic explosive.