Group test: Audi RS7 vs Porsche Panamera Turbo

Group test: Audi RS7 vs Porsche Panamera Turbo
Group test: Audi RS7 vs Porsche Panamera Turbo

It’s all we need: four doors and four seats. And at least 550bhp

Isn’t paper a wonderful thing? All kinds of things would be so much simpler if we just lived on paper. But life is often like that football team – great on paper, rubbish on grass. It’s something to bear in mind with this test.

Because on paper there’s no point in doing this, since they’re the same. Both the Audi RS7 and Porsche Panamera Turbo are powered by 4.0-litre V8s, each with twin turbochargers. They power all four wheels, and have a range of modes to ensure the highest levels of luxury. Both have the sort of big coupe saloon body that mean premium prices.

So let’s get them on the road. It’s a place the Audi RS7 has been for a while. We’re familiar with that stylish raked silhouette, but in RS mode it looks yet more aggressive, despite the years piling up on it. And that V8 may not be a new release, but you won’t care when you unleash all the 605bhp at your command.

This is one of those engines, one you remember for the way it can pull from nowhere and then rush for the line with real venom. It’s huge, and it works closely with the eight-speed auto to deliver performance across the range with a great roaring soundtrack that is a thrill to play with.

Porsche Panamera Turbo

Porsche Panamera

Price: £136,853 (as tested)
Engine: 4.0-litre, V8, twin-turbocharged, petrol
Power: 542bhp
Torque: 568lb/ft
Transmission: Eight-speed PDK, four-wheel drive
0-62mph: 3.8 seconds
Top speed: 190mph
Weight: 2,070kg
Economy: 30.4mpg combined
CO2 emissions: 212g/km

But it’s not the easiest of cars to drive really fast. The steering is just too light and uncommunicative to offer total confidence, and it’s a struggle to find the right suspension mode. Comfort is too soft when you press on, and Dynamic is really way too hard and crashy. Auto is perhaps the only sensible compromise.

But the sports diff does help to pull the nose in and keep everything on line, while that engine is vastly entertaining. Which is good, because the cabin really isn’t. This is the one area, the area where Audi always shines, where the passing of time does the RS7 no favours. It just seems dated and really not up to the price point of this car.

The Panamera Turbo is far more current, and you’ll be aware of that the second you slip into its cabin. It’s full of tech and screens and haptic buttons, both for those in the front as well as the rear. The driver sits low and it is ready to rumble.

But it’s big, and it feels a touch intimidating at first and not the easiest vehicle to position accurately despite all the sensors and tech to help you. Then you get on a bigger road and let it roll a bit.
You don’t forget that size and weight and general presence, but you do marvel at how well it is all controlled. And how fast it all moves. The Panamera Turbo is just astonishingly powerful, surging with so much instant response that your brain needs a moment to catch up.

Audi RS7 Performance

Audi RS7

Price: £105,830 (as tested)
Engine: 4.0-litre, V8, twin-turbocharged, petrol
Transmission: 8-speed auto, four-wheel drive
Power: 597bhp
Torque: 553lb/ft
0-62mph: 3.7 seconds
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
Weight: 2,005kg
Economy: 29.7mpg combined
CO2 emissions: 221g/km

Whatever the RS7 is, the Panamera is more so. More power, more speed, more suspension control, more feel to the steering, just more, more, more. It does all this with a distinct lack of effort. This really is the vehicle for crossing a continent in a day, and you’ll do it in style too.

Which means, for us, the Porsche Panamera Turbo is the clear winner here. It’s impressive how far it has moved forward from even the first generation. It’s big and hefty and is perhaps slightly less engaging as a driver’s car than many would want in a Porsche, but there’s no denying its incredible ability.

The performance is outrageous, the cabin is utterly luxurious and trick, and the whole vehicle is a decent distance ahead of the Audi RS7 – a car which is showing its age in this company. It’s still a great car, and more people probably warmed to it than to the Porsche, but we look forward to the next generation RS7. Let’s hope they keep that V8.

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