Track Drive: New Audi RS 6 and RS 7 are balanced beasts of the highest order

Published Sep 26, 2023


Come drive some high performance Audis around Kyalami Raceway, they said. It will be.. Well, you can fill the rest in.

It’s a hard job being a motoring journalist, but someone has to do it, and so in the interests of good old fashioned journalism I took one for the team and willingly obliged to half a day of tearing around the famous Midrand circuit in Ingolstadt’s finest RS models.

The occasion, according to our host, was the reintroduction of the Audi Driving Experience, which is described as a set of “pop-up” events hosted at race tracks in Gauteng, Western Cape and KZN.

Apart from the “it will be fun” implication, the experience allows customers to hone their high performance driving skills with seasoned international driving instructor Mark Allison. The course will be available until November at a “launch price” of R9,500, Audi says.

A certain highlight for me was that we’d get to drive the newly introduced Audi RS 7 Sportback and RS 6 Avant ‘Performance’ models, which replace the regular versions in South Africa.

There’s a lot more than just performance upgrades going on here, but for what it’s worth Audi’s 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 has been fitted with larger turbochargers, now boosting 0.2 bar higher at 2.6.

The end result is outputs of 463kW and 850Nm, which is an increase of 22kW and 50Nm over the regular RS 6 and RS 7.

What’s more it’s now two tenths of a second faster to 100km/h, with that all-important benchmark sprint now taking place in 3.4 seconds, according to claims.

To ensure those improvements are not just felt, but heard too, Audi has reduced the amount of insulation between the engine compartment and cabin, thereby also making the car eight kilograms lighter in the process.

And that’s not all, folks.

A smaller and lighter self-locking centre differential has been fitted with the aim of reducing understeer at the upper limits. Under normal circumstances it sends 60 percent of the torque to the rear axle, but if needed it can direct up to 85 percent to the back or even 70 percent to the front.

While we didn’t get to run wild in the new performance models at Kyalami, we did experience a few half-laps while honing our Kyalami race lines, and then a full hot lap that was unfortunately slowed down when one of our overly enthusiastic counterparts upfront decided to test a vehicle’s off-roading abilities on the run-off next to the track.

Even so, that small taste of the RS 7 Sportback was enough to outline its true on-track personality.

It’s a perfectly balanced, “grown up” sports car of the highest order. That growling V8 makes itself heard, but it’s not too intrusive. Acceleration is spellbinding, and its agility belies its portly size, but it never feels like a hooligan car.

What this super saloon really does is make you feel like a better driver than you are, it’s just so perfectly balanced, and responsive to your every input.

Granted, it’s far more of a sledgehammer than a go-kart, but its combination of performance, agility, comfort and practicality make it achingly desirable to the more mature enthusiast.

There are also many ways to make it your own, with striking exterior colours like the matte Ascari Blue of our test car, and numerous wheel finishes including matte neodymium gold. Buyers can also opt for a matte carbon and black trim package for the mirrors, front spoiler, side sills and diffuser, as an alternative to the standard matte grey trim.

Further to that there’s a choice of three RS interior design packages, with the traditional grey and red being joined by a new blue option.

The Audi RS 6 Avant Performance is priced at R2,332,700 and the RS 7 Sportback Performance will set you back by R2,444,500.

While that’s not cheap by any stretch of the imagination they do undercut rivals like the BMW M5 Competition (R2,547,466) and Mercedes-AMG E63 S 4Matic+ (R2,823,004).

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