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- Highs Very rewarding to drive at the limit, modern and luxurious cabin, hatch provides ample cargo space.
- Lows New powertrain has less character than before, it's heavier than before, costs significantly more than the S6.
- Verdict The new S7 has lost a few steps but gained a modern feel that complements its sleek curb appeal.
After a one-year hiatus, the S7 returns to the U.S. market to round out Audi's complement of mid-size "four-door coupes"—the oxymoronic industry term for sedan-like fastbacks. This model straddles the performance line between the grand-touring A7 and the track-star RS7 and aims to take on the likes of the Mercedes-AMG CLS53 4Matic and the BMW M850i Gran Coupe. A paragon of under-the-radar speed, the S7 can hang with the best of 'em but isn't braggy about it. And while the A7/S7/RS7 family shares a platform with Audi's A6 sedan, it offers more in the way of style and cargo volume because of its hatchback rear end.
What's New for 2020?
The S7 rejoins Audi's U.S. lineup this year with a new powertrain, revised styling, and plenty of modern features.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
Which trim level you buy will depend on what's important to you. If you can't—or simply don't want to—live without a head-up display, soft-close doors, dual-pane acoustic glass, or an air quality system with ionizers and fragrance dispensers, your decision is easy: Only the Prestige has such frills. But you could spec a Premium Plus model with most of the Prestige's amenities for less. The Driver Assistance package (adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and more) and S7 Executive pack (heated rear seats, high-def LED headlights with laser, and ambient LED interior lighting) get you most of the way there. For those with sporting driving aspirations, the Sport package is a no-brainer. It includes all-wheel steering, a burbling sport exhaust, and—most importantly—a torque-vectoring rear differential. Unless your roads are smooth like glass, avoid the optional steel springs. The standard air springs are plenty adequate.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Gone is the last gen's 450-hp twin-turbocharged V-8. Audi now drops a twin-turbo V-6 under the S7's hood, sacrificing six horsepower in the process. What it lost in power, though, it more than makes up for with torque—443 lb-ft of it to be exact, 37 more than before. It routes that torque through an eight-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels. Audi retired the old seven-speed dual-clutch in this application, as it couldn't handle the increased torque. (You can find it on the A7, though.) A 48-volt motor-generator smoothes auto stop-start operation while an electric supercharger rouses throttle response. Unfortunately, the electric components add to the overall weight. Tipping the scales at 4640 pounds, the new S7 is 132 pounds heavier than its predecessor. The eight-speed automatic’s shifts aren’t as snappy as those of the seven-speed dual-clutch it replaces, and it shows. The S7 runs a 4.1-second 60-mph dash and the quarter-mile in 12.5, 0.3 and 0.2 second slower than the old car, respectively. And though it’s packed on a few pounds, the driving dynamics that have always been one of the S7s selling points still remain. The luxo-hatch is eager to hustle and feels much smaller than it is. Up front, massive front rotors clamped by six-piston calipers bring the S7 to a halt from 70 mph in a heady 151 feet.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
With the S7's new 48-volt electric gizmos and engine downsizing, the EPA suggests the new S7 should achieve 22 mpg in combined driving, four better than the previous generation. The government numbers top what the M850i Gran Coupe is expected to earn, but the CLS53 has the S7 beat in the city, boasting an estimated 21 mpg. During our 200-mile highway fuel-economy test, the Audi achieved 28 mpg, matching its EPA highway rating. In the same test, the BMW also earned 28 mpg and the Merc returned an impressive 30 mpg.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Inside, the S7 features everything you'd expect from a luxury performance sedan-like car: natural wood trim, quilted leather seats with contrast stitching, heating for the front seats and steering wheel, shift paddles, four-zone automatic climate control, a panoramic sunroof, and more. Plus, Audi offers luxury touches such as dual-pane acoustic glass and soft-close doors, and who doesn't like those? The S7's fastback shape is a boon for cargo volume. Under the hatch, you have 25 cubic feet of room to play with. That's double what the CLS53 has to offer and 11 cubes more than what the S6 sedan can boast. But cubic footage can be misleading. We will have to wait until we have an S7 in hand to find out how practical that space really is.
Infotainment and Connectivity
A 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster sits in front of the driver. In the center console, Audi divides the infotainment functions between two haptic-feedback screens, a 10.1-incher on top and an 8.6-inch display down low. The screens are rendered with crisp graphics and with a little familiarity are easy to operate. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto interfaces come standard, as does SiriusXM radio, Bluetooth audio, and a wireless charging pad. Audi provides a 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system on either trim, or you can upgrade to a 19-speaker unit from B&O for $4900 on Prestige models.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has yet to put the S7 through its regiment of crash tests. But for what it's worth, the 2019 Audi A7—which shares much with the S7—excelled in every category tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) except for headlights. And Audi didn't skimp on driver-assistance features. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with forward pedestrian detection
- Standard lane-departure warning
- Available adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
When it comes to warranty coverage, Audi matches what the other luxury German brands have to offer. Its four-year roadside assistance program isn't novel, either.
- Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance
2020 Audi S7
front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback
PRICE AS TESTED
$101,340 (base price: $84,895)
twin-turbocharged, supercharged, and intercooled DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
177 in3, 2894 cm3
444 hp @ 6700 rpm
443 lb-ft @ 1900 rpm
Suspension (F/R): multilink/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 15.7-in vented disc/13.8-in vented disc
Tires: Pirelli P Zero PZ4, 255/35R-21 98Y AO
Wheelbase: 115.3 in
Length: 196.0 in
Width: 75.1 in
Height: 55.8 in
Passenger volume: 95 ft3
Cargo volume: 25 ft3
Curb weight: 464 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
Rollout, 1 ft: 0.2 sec
60 mph: 4.1 sec
100 mph: 9.9 sec
130 mph: 17.6 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 4.8 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 2.8 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 3.5 sec
¼-mile: 12.5 sec @ 112 mph
Top speed (mfr's claim): 155 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 151 ft
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 16 mpg
75-mph highway driving: 28 mpg
Highway range: 540 miles
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 22/18/28 mpg