Alpina B5 2020 review: Touring
Take a BMW 5 Series, sprinkle a little madness over it, and you're left with what might just be the ultimate performance wagon. But can the Alpina B5 Touring handle family duties as well as it handles the fast stuff?
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If you’re looking for a sedan version of the RS 6 Avant, then you’ve come to the right place – sort of. See there is no RS 6 Sedan, but the RS 7 Sportback is the next best thing – you may even find it an even better thing because not only does it share RS 6 Avant’s outrageous engine and high-performance hardware, it’s also a sedan …but with a hatchback.
And if that kind of thing makes you happy, sit down – because the new generation RS 7 Sportback has just landed.
|Audi RS7 2020: 4.0 Tfsi Quattro Mhev|
|Engine Type||4.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Hybrid with Premium Unleaded|
That's almost 600 horsepower and the supercar acceleration that goes with it is brutal: we're talking 0-100km/h coming in 3.6 seconds. That also matches the RS 6 Avant and it's a tenth of a second faster than the Audi R8 V10 RWD supercar, (and also the previous-gen RS 7 Sportback Performance) and this is a large, four-door, five-seater.
Compared to the previous generation RS 7 Sportback Performance the power is down by 4kW, but torque is up by a whopping 100Nm. Give me torque over power any day.
The Audi RS 7 Sportback lists for $224,000, which is exactly $8K more than the RS 6 Avant.
Coming standard are the enormous 22-inch alloy wheels, the matrix LED headlights with laser lights, metallic paint, a panoramic glass sunroof (which is new to the model), privacy glass, head-up display, soft-close doors and red brake calipers.
Inside there's the Bang and Olufsen 16-speaker sound system (that new, too), sat nav, the 12.3-inch virtual instrument cluster, wireless Apple CarPlay (new, as well), wireless charging, full leather upholstery with RS sport front seats that are heated and now come with ventilation as standard, and four-zone climate control.
I've left off all the standard RS mechanical equipment, but I'll cover that in the driving section below.
Is it good value? Well the Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 S is $186,435 but it has way less grunt, the Alpina B5 which I've also road-tested lists for $210,000 and there's the Porsche Panamera 4 Sport Turismo for $236,300.
The big news is the RS 7 Sportback now comes with five seats. The previous generation car had just two seats in the second row. I'll talk more on practicality below but for now let's examine the new styling.
This RS 7 Sportback has new broad, black mesh grille, flanked by gigantic side air intakes, narrow headlights, and a thin upper air inlet which is a hat tip to early racing Audis.
While that new angrier, more angular and menacing face is a showstopper, everything about the new RS 7 Sportback seems to be accentuated further.
Look at the wheels. The previous generation came with 21-inch rims, now the new normal for the RS 7 are 22-inches – they're huge. Those wheel guards also flare out 20mm more than a regular A7's and the rear haunches have bulked up massively.
Come to the back of the car and the diffuser and bumper have also been beefed up. Nobody sitting behind you in traffic is going to think this is just a regular A7.
Don't expect the RS 7 Sportback's insides to be just as hardcore as its exterior. The cabin is almost identical to a regular A7's. It's a stunning cockpit dominated by a dash which protrudes back towards the passengers and houses the media screen. Anther display for climate is set into the big centre console which divides the driver and co-pilot into almost cocooned cells.
The cabin isn't without its RS touches though – there's the sports seats with honeycomb stitching, fully digital instrument cluster with RS specific meters, the RS steering wheel, the Nappa leather on the dashboard and the doors, the aluminium inlays. The level of fit and finish is up there with the best that I've seen on any production car.
The RS 7 Avant is 5009mm long, 1424mm tall and 1950mm across for a wide planted stance.
I've never met an RS model that hasn't been great to drive – these cars are way more than just tough body kits and big wheels. The engineering which separates the RS 7 Sportback from the A7 makes them more distant cousins than siblings.
As I mentioned before the RS 7 Sportback and RS 6 share more than the same twin-turbo V8, there are also the giant brakes in form of 420mm discs at the front with 10 piston calipers and 370mm discs at the rear.
The optional carbon ceramic brakes are the largest ever to be fitted to a production vehicle at 440mm at the front and 370mm at the rear, saving 34kg in mass over the steel brakes.
Now standard for the first time is Audi's Dynamic Package, which adds dynamic steering (a variable ratio) paired with all-wheel steering, a sport differential, and a 280km/h top speed.
Coming standard is adaptive air suspension and for $2850 you can option the Dynamic Ride Control suspension, which is a hydraulically activated adaptive damper system
At the Australian launch, Audi supplied two RS 7 Sportbacks: one with the air suspension and the other with not only the Dynamic Ride Control system, but also the RS Dynamic Package Plus which adds the ceramic brakes and increases the top speed to 305km/h – this was the car I started off in.
I'm going to say right away that you don't need ceramic brakes for regular road use. Sure it means you can tell people that you have the biggest brakes in the world and they save you almost 35 kilos in weight, and, yes, they're resistant to fading, but they're expensive to replace and the steel ones are incredibly good.
The model featured below is the 2020 Audi RS7
I also feel the Dynamic Ride Control sports suspension isn't necessary in a car like the RS 7 Sportback. This is a Grand Tourer designed to eat up hundreds of miles at lightspeed in comfort.
So, while I found the first RS 7 Sportback with the big brakes and sports suspension sharper and firmer than the standard car, it didn't seem to fit with this vehicle's intent.
The regular RS 7 Sportback still accelerated with the same brutal force and roared at the scenery flashing past. It still handled through the tight corners superbly with excellent turn in, mind-boggling traction and grip, and excellent body control, but all in far more comfort.
This is the point – we covered hundreds of miles at the Australian launch of the RS 7 Sportback in a range of RS models, and sports suspension can go from great to gruelling on Aussie roads with their coarse-chip bitumen and potholes. The RS 7 Sportback, with its air suspension, not only made driving far more comfortable, but easier, too.
The previous RS 7 Sportback was a four-seater, now it has five seats. That's right, a middle seat has been added to the second row, but, as you'd expect, it's not the best place be in the RS 7 Sportback, straddling the large driveshaft and ducking under the low roof-line.
That fastback profile does mean headroom in the second row is nowhere near as good as the RS 6 Avant's, but legroom is the same and, at 191cm tall, I can just fit behind my driving position with about 10mm to spare.
Up front it's not as spacious as you might think. That stepped dash protrudes into the passenger's space, the door pockets are thin and the centre console storage under the armrest is small.
For phones there's a wireless charger and two USB ports in the centre console storage box, while back seat passengers have two USB ports and a 12V outlets. There's also directional air vents and dual-zone climate control in the rear, too.
ANCAP tested the A7 in 2018 and gave it the maximum five-star ANCAP rating, however, this rating does not apply to the RS 7 Sportback high performance model.
That said, the RS 7 Sportback is fortified with nearly every piece of advanced safety tech there is in Audi's cupboard. There's AEB which can detect and brake for cyclists and pedestrians at speeds between 5-85km/h and vehicles up to 250km/h; there's rear cross traffic alert and intersection crossing assistance with braking; lane departure warning and corrective steering to keep you in your lane, and blind spot warning.
Not a fan of parking, the RS 7 Sportback can do it by itself, or there's a 360-degree camera that'll help you do it yourself. There's an exit warning system, which will warn you if a vehicle is approaching as you go to get out, too, and if the RS 7 Sportback detects that it will be hit from behind, it will prepare the cabin by tensions the seatbelts and closing the windows, including the sunroof.
Along with all that there are Audi's new Matrix LED headlights with laser lights, rain sensing wipers and adaptive cruise control.
For child seats you'll find three top tether points and two ISOFIX mounts across the second row.
There's no spare wheel – instead, there's a tyre repair kit.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
This is a large, all-wheel drive car with a 600 horsepower V8, but it also has a mild hybrid system in this new generation, which will switch the engine off at let the car coast down hills or at speeds under 22km/h.
Audi says this can save up to 0.8L/100km in real-life driving. That's great news, but consumption is still fairly high with Audi saying that after a combination of open and urban roads the RS 7 Sportback will have used 11.6L/100km.
The RS 7 Sportback is covered by Audi's three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty which not only falls behind in duration compared to mainstream brands but also its direct rival Mercedes-Benz which now has five-year, unlimited kilometre coverage.
Service intervals are every 12 months or 15,000km with a three-year plan costing $2380 and a five-year plan for $3910.
The new-generation RS 7 Sportback heralds the further evolution of this large majestic beast, with more features, a beautifully finished cabin and with more grunt with the looks to match. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better combination of power, dynamics and comfort in the Audi range – apart from in the RS 6 Avant of course.
|S/B Performance 4.0 Tfsi Qtro||4.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$203,500 – 257,290||2020 Audi RS7 2020 S/B Performance 4.0 Tfsi Qtro Pricing and Specs|
|4.0 Tfsi Quattro Mhev||4.0L, Hyb/PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$172,000 – 217,250||2020 Audi RS7 2020 4.0 Tfsi Quattro Mhev Pricing and Specs|
|Engine & trans||10|
|Price and features||8|