I recently had the chance to drive the “four door supercar” known as the 2016 Audi RS7 Performance, and it was equal parts stupid fast and ultra luxurious. So great, in fact, that you immediately start to ask yourself – would I rather have this, or the R8? The RS7 Performance I drove was fully loaded and had a sticker price over $150k so that became a very realistic question as they’re both not only in the same performance range, but the same price range too. Let’s take a look at both models and figure out which one is the winner, shall we?
The Objective Facts
Let’s start with the objective criteria and look at the data – reviewing below, the RS7 wins in almost every category when comparing to the new 2017 R8 V10 – it’s cheaper, has more power, better gas mileage, more room, and an extra gear. The R8 wins by .1 second on 0-60, has a better power to weight ratio, and we’ll argue that the DSG is better than the tiptronic transmission (although the tiptronic was no slouch from my test drive) so we can say the R8 wins on 3 out of 7 categories, while the RS7 wins the remaining four. It’s a close race at best, but the RS7 certainly seems like the better value. The better comparison, perhaps, is a used R8 V10 with a six speed manual, which can be had for closer to the price of a RS7 Performance and has a proper gearbox – if a manual transmission is a requirement (or even strong preference), this comparison is over pretty quickly as there is no way to get a RS7 with anything other than a tiptronic. There are plenty of used R8s out there, and this Audi R8 buyers guide has lots of good tips on what to look out for – but I suspect finding used R8s with manual transmissions is going to get harder and harder as more and more new models (including the 2017+ R8s) no longer offer them.
The RS7 Performance
- $129k starting price (2016)
- 607 hp, 517 tq
- 3.6 second 0-60
- Eight speed tiptronic transmission
- 4,542 lbs curb weight = .134 power/weight ratio
- 15/25/18 mpg
- 4 doors
Audi R8 V10
- $163k starting price (2017)
- 540 hp, 398 tq
- 3.5 second 0-60
- Seven speed S-tronic DSG transmission (6MT available if 2016 or older model)
- 3,649 lbs curb weight = .148 power/weight ratio
- 14/22/17 mpg
- 2 doors
The Subjective Experience
Comparing a sedan to a two door sports car is, on its face, a bit silly – they’re totally different cars, meant for totally different needs. If you remove the argument for practicality and assume we’re looking at both from just purely an enjoyment factor, then we can start to make a more fair comparison. The RS7 is incredibly quick, it has a great exhaust note, and the raw power is immediately noticeable and throws you back in your seat in WOT acceleration – if you want straight line performance and crazy amounts of torque, the RS7 wins.
The R8, on the other hand, is mid-engined, lower, lighter, and designed to handle – and with its lower weight, it’s actually quicker despite having less horsepower. If you want to go on canyon drives, track days, or more technical driving, the R8 is your choice hands down. The R8 actually shares a large amount of its tech with Audi’s GT3 spec race car, and the reviews of the car are nothing short of incredible from Motor Trend to Chris Harris claiming it is his new favorite car. From an aesthetics standpoint, the R8 is definitely flashier, while the RS7 is fairly incognito. To the average person, the RS7 and the A7 don’t really look all that different, even if you do get all of the options like the ~$10k carbon ceramic brakes and 21″ wheels. If you want to roll around being more undetected, the RS7 is your weapon of choice…if you want to make an entrance, the R8 is the winner.
And it probably goes without saying, but if you need a backseat, or even a place to put your golf clubs – the RS7 is the winner. The trunk is actually surprisingly spacious as it is quite long, and with the rear seats folded down you can fit a surfboard, bike, or whatever you please quite easily. The R8, not so much…
If you want a supercar – you now have two options from Audi – sedan or coupe. If you want something a little more practical and subtle for your day-to-day needs yet able to embarrass just about anyone in a straight line, then the RS7 is your car. If you just want a sports car to have fun with on the weekends and track days, the R8 is hands down your winner. One thing is for sure – the decision on which car to buy when you hit your midlife crisis is getting much, much tougher these days.
Photo Credits: Myself, Motor Trend, HRE/Wheels Boutique
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