Surviving a 2,000 mile family road trip in an Audi RS7
The last time my family made the long, parched drive from Phoenix to Austin on I-10, we were in our 1998 Nissan Sentra, with its gummy floormats and cracked windshield, driver’s-side window that no longer works and its built-in casette player, a sad car for sad times. We were fleeing California and a recession that had ruined us. We went slowly--the Sentra had no other mode--feeling depressed and anxious, towards an uncertain future.
This year, we did the drive in an 2014 Audi RS7.
It wasn’t ours. None of these cars we test are. It’s all a sick illusion. Still, we had a $125,000, 560-hp sports machine to drive across the desert and back in our 2,000 mile family adventure. “Wouldn’t you have preferred a nice diesel?” a colleague asked. That would have made sense for a family road trip. So would a Honda Odyssey with a built-in vacuum. But instead they offered us a car that wouldn’t be out of place in Forza 5. My wife, my 11-year-old son, and our ancient Boston Terrier would feel the burn.
My colleague Ezra Dyer has already made an efficient and witty evaluation of the RS-7’s crazed drive dynamics and warp-speed 0-to-60 action. I also had my chance to push the car around its limits, and I can say this with certainty: It is the best commercial sports sedan out there, above the excellent but slightly wafty BMW M6 Gran Coupé and the excellent but slightly heavy Jaguar XJR. The fact that I can even begin to make such a comparison makes me want to punch myself in the face. There you have it. The Audi RS7, a light rocket, stands alone.
This wasn’t a track drive, it was a family road trip, a function that the RS-7 was clearly not designed to perform. But that’s what I used it for, and that’s how it will be evaluated here.
Fuel Economy: During our voyage, we averaged just under 22 MPG. At first, it was blowing gas, but then we stopped using it alternately in comfort and performance modes, and instead changed it to an “auto” setting, where the car automatically calibrates the engine to use either four or eight cylinders, depending on the situation. That helped extend the 20-gallon tank a lot, though it didn’t keep us from spending $300 on gas over the two weeks we had the car. Like a snooty lord, the RS7 only takes premium.