The wait becomes agonizing when you know that something exciting awaits you. There’s anxiety and thrill inside – both at the same time. A good pal of mine recently got married, and the wait from his engagement to D-day caused him to have mood swings as if he was a teenage girl going through her monthly crisis. I’ve known him since our school days, and I’d never seen him behave in such a way – moreover, why would anyone be excited about his own destruction anyway?
On the other hand, I can completely understand childish behaviour, and its resulting thrill. For instance, when we were waiting for our first ever parasailing escapade – there was goose bump-inducing excitement! Or, for that matter, the wait for physics experiments in school, where we enticed other boys to try out our model – and once they did, they’d get a low-voltage shock making them look like Calvin gone wrong. We were crazy kids – so the idea of seeing my friend become ‘homely’ was strange, and that’s why his behaviour during this waiting period irked me. But, it was funny at the same time.
And laughing is a good thing – it makes me lose some of my belly mass too. I’m not kidding, it’s scientifically proven. Ask the intelligent guys at Vanderbilt University in Nashwille, Tennessee – a bunch of them discovered this through the apparent application of intellect during a complex activity called research. Laughter also reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, and makes blood vessels function well by enhancing the blood flow. That makes one live longer. I must thank Audi for helping me extend my life a bit – as both the A7 and the RS5 made me laugh.
I mirrored this feeling of anxiety and thrill of my then to-be-married-soon friend a couple of days before we were to drive (and shoot) the Audi RS5 and A7 together. And I’ll keep this report revolving around the two cars as much as I can – because I really want to talk about them a fair amount. So, I’ll keep my rants to a bare minimum.
In the car world, everyone has a favourite – even us motoring journalists do. But, we try our best to be as objective as we can be when reviewing or road testing various cars and bikes. I have my favourites too – and, if I’m honest, none of them are Audis.
But, Audi’s produced some magnificent cars right from the Type C to the NSU Ro80, which had a Wankel engine and was hailed for its design. The R8 is a supercar good enough to rival Ferraris and Aston Martins. It looks outlandish too. But, the most iconic of all Audis has to be the Quattro. And, frankly, no matter how hard Audi has tried, they’ve haven’t been able to make another car quite like the Quattro. It was an honest-to-goodness, classic 2-door coupe that was framed with straight lines and a handsome squarish shape. This was the 1980s. Three decades on, what we have now is the RS5 – a 2-door coupe too, but the comparisons end there.
The RS5 looks like, well, nothing special. Yes, it looks bold and strong – courtesy of the large air intakes and flared wheel arches – but not extraordinary or unique. You should know, I have an issue with the manufacturers indulging in their latest obsession – having corporate grille sections or what-have-you on all their cars. Just the other day, I saw Hyundai’s refreshed i10, and the new Verna, on the road running parallel to each other. And, from the front, the two cars look shockingly similar – that’s corporate identity at work for you. Sorry, but it just doesn’t work for me. Audi suffers from this problem too. Some models look so similar that no matter what angle you view them from, they look like the unimaginative work of a chap who woke up and pencilled the straightforward shape of the corporate grille out of obligation towards his job – and then just photo-copied it at different dimensions for the various models.
It kills any excitement that a shape may have the potential for. And that’s why I liked the A7 – because the subtle elements of excitement add drama to the overall design. It’s different from the other Audis, and is supremely stylish. It charmed me.
I usually don’t talk about the cabin and fancy equipment a lot. But, frankly, I was expecting some hardcore, driver-focussed treatment in the RS5 – it is a proper sports coupe after all. I was left disappointed. It’s all top notch quality plastics, and a lot of leather that surrounds you, but the sheer concentrated and focussed characteristics of a sports sedan are missing. You want such a machine to stare at you with an unflinching firmness. But the RS5 manages to be soft, comfy, and quite sober. It shouts of a typical Audi interior, with phenomenal quality, but no madness to it. That forced me to wonder if the dynamic ability of the car would be much the same.
To find an answer to that, I cranked the engine and immediately strange things started happening – I felt this rush of adrenaline and my heart began to melt and pound at the same time. I was – and think what you may – genuinely turned on. With 4.2 litres worth of lung capacity singing through twin exhaust pipes – it’s a throaty masterpiece. And then, when you prod the throttle just about a quarter of its travel, it growls at you with a gentle rumble. That turns you on even more, and you floor it. Oh-my-God – there’s no other way to describe it! The RS5’s exhaust note is an acoustic pleasure worth every inappropriate-sounding moan that your vocal chords suddenly come up with.
The engine is glorious, and hits all the right notes with its music, power, and masculinity. But then everything goes awfully wrong. The engine filled me with so much hope that I started attacking every corner and roundabout we encountered.
And while the RS5 sticks to the road like a leech to skin, even in the wet, and provides more speed than you’ll ever need, it gives you very little in return if you’re looking for hooliganistic excitement. So, I opted out of the driving seat and let Dhruv take a shot at it – still nothing. You see, the RS5 is basically a laptop powered, not by batteries but a nuclear bomb – but it’s a laptop nonetheless. There’s so much electronic interference that you can’t play with the steering and throttle and kick the rear end off line. The steering feels good to hold – it’s even direct – but the experience is a little muted because it’s emotionless.
In my experience so far, all Audis have been slightly understeery. But, with this one, they’ve moved the front axle forward, and the engine lurks way behind it – which, in theory, should counter understeer. But plainly, it hasn’t worked. The RS5 doesn’t let you flirt with the throttle in the way a rear-wheel drive would. It fights against the theories of physics to get the nose pointing into corners as desired – no matter what the speed. I say this as though it’s a bad thing, but it does ensure that you look like a superhuman behind the wheel. And, as a result, not only is it earth shatteringly fast, but extremely safe as well.
And the ride is quite sensational. I expected it to be harsh and choppy – much like driving on Om Puri’s face. But it was brilliantly poised and rather comfy – even on Indian roads! This is truly a point-and-shoot, go-anywhere German muscle car. And, if you really want to know, there’s sufficient space at the back for a dog, or a fully grown human. But if you want lots of usable space, and the best cabin in the automotive world, then allow me to introduce the A7.
The A7 is a great car – I love it. Sure, it doesn’t come with an overzealous animal under the bonnet, and, yes, it doesn’t really excite you much when throwing it around corners. But that’s exactly why you love it – because the A7 isn’t meant for such things. At the same time, it can cover ground fast. And it’s a pleasing and sexy shape that makes a guy’s heart flutter – that in itself is quite a weird phenomenon. It’s not raunchy, like Pamela Anderson, it’s more subtle and stylish – much like the French President’s wife, Carla Bruni. She’s alluring. She’s also a model-turned-actress-turned-first lady-turned-artist, but that’s another story.
The A7 exists in a niche segment within the luxury sedan segment that was established by the still-lovely, original Mercedes Benz CLS. But Mercedes thought that the CLS was getting long-in-the-tooth, so they decided to design a new model. And the new CLS isn’t really as nice as Audi’s newfound firepower in this segment. I expect a lot of CLS owners to gravitate towards Ingolstadt as a result. My initial thoughts that the A7 looked quite like the not-exactly-pretty Panamera in profile died an instant death when I saw it in the flesh – it’s splendid.
The A7’s interior, too, is fabulous. The instrument panel is clear and elegantly stylish, the fascia is inviting, and the seats just make you sink in comfort. I prefer its cabin to even the A8’s – it’s that good! Just wish the A7 had massaging seats that the A8 comes packed with – that would’ve made it perfect. I loved the head-up display – you’re constantly fighting to beat the speed you saw flash a moment ago. It’s like a video game!
You get a lot of bang-for-your-buck with the A7 – like a super Bang & Olufsen sound system and a multimedia system that also doubles up as an interface, which lets you ruin the car’s setup from being comfy to supposedly sporty – I say ‘supposedly’ because it doesn’t really make the A7 sporty, since the A7 isn’t actually supposed to be sporty. It is supposed to be fast, yes – which it is – and it’s supposed to be stylish and cosseting, which, again, it is. And, to that end, it rides beautifully. It’s so well damped that even the largest of all potholes are dealt with easily.
So, the RS5 is like a firm handshake of a suit-wearing business associate – you’d like him, but wouldn’t want to hit the bar and order a beer with him. But, spend time with the RS5 and you realise that there’s an element of naughtiness somewhere too. Audi has arranged it such that there’s a drop of petrol fed into the hot exhaust every time you change gear. And this makes changing gears sound delectable. Just listen to it on the over-run, and you’ll understand what I’m on about.
The A7, on the other hand, is an elegant and pretty woman who’s company at a bar would get you noticed, and how! You’d most certainly have arrived. The A7 itself is the unpretentious brunette who spreads lust in her wake. I’d have mine in a short sparkling red sheath dress, if you don’t mind!
Also Read: Audi A4 Review, Test Drive
|Engine||2967cc / 6 Cylinder / 24 Valves / Common Rail Direct Injection / Turbocharged||4163cc / 8 Cylinder / 32 Valves / DOHC /
|Transmission||7-speed S tronic / Permanent all-wheel drive||7-speed S tronic / Permanent all-wheel drive|
|Power||241bhp @ 4000 – 4500rpm||443bhp @ 8250rpm|
|Torque||500Nm @ 1400 – 3250rpm||430Nm @ 4000 – 6000rpm|
|Price||Rs. 64 lakhs (Ex-showroom, Delhi)||Rs. 76 lakhs (Ex-showroom, Delhi)|
|The vulgar power of the RS5 corrupts, and the Gorgeous looks of the A7 seduce.|