Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

2013 Audi S7
2013 Audi S7. Click image to enlarge

Pulling away from Audi-central in the Phantom Black Pearl Effect 2013 Audi S7, my initial impression was one of piloting a piece of mechanical fine art. And with a 420-hp 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 under hood, a fairly rapid one at that.

We always speak of Audi interiors with respect and some reverence, but this particular swoopy five-door hatchback showcased the Ingolstadt automaker at the top of its game.

The 7 departs from the sometimes stoic Audi interior fare with an organic, flowing dash that here was enhanced with beautifully contrasting Beaufort Oak Beige Layered trim ($700) that puts one in mind of a vintage Chris-Craft speed boat.

Or in the case of Senior Editor Yarkony, had him thinking of chopping vegetables on a pressed-bamboo chopping block.

2013 Audi S72013 Audi S72013 Audi S7
2013 Audi S7. Click image to enlarge

You could study the detailing in here for quite some time, specifically the edge of the dash where it intersects with the door and the lovely thin strip of timber that sweeps along the base of the windshield. With a darker trim, many of these elements would be lost.

Lovin’ the diamond-quilted seats that feel as good as they look, too.

The brushed metal accents are exquisite, and on start up, the way the gauges light up, the red needles make a full sweep, the MMI screen glides into place and the little Bang and Olufsen tweeters rise, phoenix-like, out of the dashtop effectively pin the gee-whiz meter.

You feel like you’re sitting inside a very expensive, bespoke modern yet classic timepiece.

And the exterior aesthetics are equally compelling. No, let me rephrase that. The S7 is freakin’ gorgeous.

Introduced last year as the A7 3.0T, Audi’s sleek hatch is still a fairly rare sight on our roads. It’s a striking design, coming across as both brutal and delicate, retro and modern. The higher-performance S7 variant rides on arch-filling 20-inch alloys, and this car was fitted with $1,700 full LED headlights that gave the front some extra attitude and, on a night drive in the country, lit up the roads like a football stadium.

2013 Audi S7
2013 Audi S7. Click image to enlarge

But you’re not forking out $89,300 for the S7 when the A7, at $69,200, delivers pretty much the same aesthetic goods. You’re wanting your rolling artwork to roll a bit faster.

Wedged under the S7’s hood is a 4.0-litre twin-turbo direct-injection V8 that pumps out 420 hp and 405 lb-ft from 1,400 rpm. It is mated to Audi’s S tronic seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and, of course, Quattro all-wheel drive has all four corners pawing at the asphalt.

Like BMW M5’s 4.4L V8, this Audi unit reverses the usual flow of gasses. Intake is on the outside of the heads, and nestled in the “vee” are the exhaust manifolds and turbos. Under light load, this V8 will deactivate four pots, turning it into a less thirsty V4. On highway jaunts I was getting down in the mid 9s (L/100 km) but around town was another story. Ouch.

This V8 is a smooth and sonorous unit, and it pairs nicely with the S tronic. Effortless urge speaks of luxury, and this drivetrain wafts and charges with the best of them. With a claimed 0–100 km/h time of 4.5 seconds, the 2,045-kg S7 is bloody quick, yet in this age of 560-hp M5s and 577-hp E 63 AMGs, its 420 hp looks a little tepid.

Do you need more power? I can’t imagine why. At least until I get corrupted by the 560-hp 2014 RS7, I’ll stand by this statement.

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