2014 Audi RS 7 vs. 2012 Porsche Panamera Turbo S: Track Tested

Clash of the Super Sedans

Edmunds tests hundreds of vehicles a year. Cars, trucks, SUVs, we run them all, and the numbers always tell a story. With that in mind we present "Edmunds Track Tested," a quick rundown of all the data we collect at the track, along with comments direct from the test drivers. Enjoy.

For reasons beyond its badge and despite its awkward rear end, the Porsche Panamera has been the darling of the super sedan set since it hit the market. Not only did Porsche's new sedan offer the luxurious quality and exemplary build quality that premium buyers expect, but it drove like a Porsche and was faster than anything that big deserved to be.

But now there's a new contender to the throne that promises beauty with its brawn. The 2014 Audi RS 7 has a turbocharged V8 producing 560 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and 516 pound-feet of torque at just 1,750 rpm.

By all accounts, it's a brute, but is it enough to topple the mighty Porsche Panamera Turbo S, which back in 2012 cranked out 550 hp and up to 590 lb-ft of torque? There's another 20 hp on tap for 2014.

Here are our results:

2014 Audi RS 7
2012 Porsche Panamera Turbo S
Curb weight as tested:
0-30 (sec.):
0-45 (sec.):
0-60 (sec.):
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec.):
0-75 (sec.):
1/4-mile (sec @ mph):
11.5 @ 120.3
11.9 @ 117.2
30-0 (ft):
60-0 (ft):
Skid Pad Lateral Accel (g):

Vehicle: 2014 Audi RS 7
Odometer: 2,143
Date: 10/29/2013
Driver: Chris Walton
Price: $105,795 (base)

Specifications: Drive Type: Longitudinal front engine, all-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Eight-speed automatic
Engine Type: Turbocharged V8, gasoline direct injection
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 3,993/243.7
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 560 @ 5,700
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 516 @ 1,750
Brake Type (front): 15.4-inch ventilated discs with six-piston fixed calipers
Brake Type (rear): 14-inch ventilated discs with two-piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type (front): Multilink, stabilizer bar, adaptive air
Suspension Type (rear): Multilink, stabilizer bar, adaptive air
Tire Size (front): 275/30ZR21 98Y
Tire Size (rear): 275/30ZR21 98Y
Tire Brand: Pirelli
Tire Model: P Zero R01 PNCS
Tire Type: Summer
As Tested Curb Weight (lb): 4,511

Test Results:
0-30 (sec): 1.5 (1.8 w/ TC on)
0-45 (sec): 2.4 (2.8 w/ TC on)
0-60 (sec): 3.4 (4.1 w/ TC on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 3.2 (3.8 w/ TC on)
0-75 (sec): 4.9 (5.5 w/ TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 11.5 @ 120.3 (12.0 @ 119.1 w/ TC on)

30-0 (ft): 29
60-0 (ft): 108

Slalom (mph): 68.3 (68.0 w/ ESC on)
Skid Pad Lateral Acceleration (g): 0.96 (0.95 w/ ESC on)
RPM @ 70 mph: 1,800

Acceleration: I've been testing cars for nearly 20 years, so there are few surprises left. However, this RS 7 blew my mind from the first Comfort run in default Drive. The list of other cars that accelerate with this amount of effortless urgency and with the same seemingly limitless wave of torque is a very short one. It's interesting that there's no dedicated launch mode in the Audi, nor did we find, like in the past, a sort of hidden "enhanced" shift schedule once we had selected the right mode(s) and executed a proper amount of pedal overlap from a stop. Sure, standing on the brake until the tachometer swung past 2,000 rpm in Sport Drive with Dynamic mode selected proved the quickest, but the shifts felt the same — which is to say they were very quick and caused nearly zero head toss regardless. There have only been a few cars that accelerate like this: sitting on its rear wheels with the hood pointing just over the horizon from the moment the brake is released all the way until the throttle is lifted. It also felt as if it would maintain that rate of acceleration well beyond the quarter-mile. I believe the 200-mph speedometer. Cut to Keanu Reeves, "Whoa."

Braking: Firm pedal with medium travel is highly effective and reasonably easy to modulate. First stop was in Comfort mode, but I wasn't able to determine much more dive than in the remaining Dynamic-mode stops. All were arrow-straight and without ABS buzz/vibration, drama or fade of any kind. No odor. There seems to be just a bit more lock-up from about 5 mph to a dead stop than some other manufacturers use.

Slalom: Because of the car's admirably sharp turn-in, it immediately feels like a much smaller car and I found myself hitting cones with the rear tires. Oh yeah, a "sedan." After a few runs, I found I could breathe the throttle between cones to cause a little rotation to avoid those cones without upsetting the electronic stability control (ESC) system which I left enabled. Done right, I could go back to full throttle for the last two gates and let the electronic differential sort out where to direct the power while I simply steered the car. It would even allow a pretty generous slide with a "dab-of-oppo." I like how a driver may individually select settings for steering, dampers, differential and throttle, but as I later learned, simply selecting Auto sorts this out with nearly the same results through our slalom test. To me this means the system is fast enough to read and react without getting behind in real-time like I've witnessed in other similar systems. Well done.

Skid Pad: Here, I tried one lap in either direction with ESC disabled, and while it proved ever-so-slightly better (and I could match the times in each direction), I was far busier with both steering and throttle input to maintain the smooth arc around the circle than I was just enabling ESC and selecting either Dynamic or Auto mode. In either case, the RS 7 hints at understeer, but even the slightest amount of breathing the throttle allows the rear to step out ever so slightly where I could maintain it all the way around the skid pad on the throttle.

Vehicle: 2012 Porsche Panamera Turbo S
Odometer: 864
Date: 8/23/2011
Driver: Chris Walton
Price: $173,200 (Base)

Drive Type: Longitudinal front engine, all-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic
Engine Type: Turbocharged V8, gasoline direct injection
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 4,806/293
Redline (rpm): 6,500
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 550 @ 6,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 553 (590 with overboost)
Brake Type (front): Ventilated rotors with six-piston fixed calipers
Brake Type (rear): Ventilated rotors with four-piston fixed calipers
Suspension Type (front): Independent double wishbones, adaptive air suspension
Suspension Type (rear): Independent multilink, adaptive air suspension
Tire Size (front): 255/40ZR20 (101Y)
Tire Size (rear): 295/35 ZR20 (105Y)
Tire Brand: Michelin
Tire Model: Pilot Sport PS2
Tire Type: Summer performance
As Tested Curb Weight (lb): 4,414

Test Results:
0-30 (sec): 1.4 (1.9 w/ TC on)
0-45 (sec): 2.3 (3.0 w/ TC on)
0-60 (sec): 3.7 (4.4 w/ TC on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 3.5 (4.0 w/ TC on)
0-75 (sec): 5.2 (5.9 w/ TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 11.9 @ 117.2 (12.2 @ 117.5 w/ TC on)

30-0 (ft): 29
60-0 (ft): 112

Slalom (mph): 68.9 (66.7 w/ TC on)
Skid Pad Lateral Acceleration (g): 0.96 (0.95 w/ TC on)

RPM @ 70 mph: 1,600

Acceleration: What can I say but I was essentially along for the carnival ride. I just whack the throttle and the car does the rest. Launch mode spins tires briefly, then reroutes power. Short-shifts 1-2 but it all works so fast and so well that it's hard to sort out what just happened. Upshifts are predictably fast and a little harsh.

Braking: Zero drama, zero dive, zero fade, run after run. Firm pedal and arrow-straight.

Skid pad: Very little ESC intrusion (ever-so-slight throttle closure) allows the rear to step out slightly: highly receptive to throttle position to alter under-oversteer. No need to move hands; just throttle. With ESC off, a little more tail-out and a little more steering input required.

Slalom: (Run in Sport +) Wow, what a sedan! It feels like a two-seat sports car. Turn-in is a little lazy, but the car takes a set immediately and remains ready to spring back in transition. More steering dial than expected, but so, so precise. Best run with ESC off allowed me to drive it like a rally car (lift-stab) to rotate and exit at full throttle!

The manufacturers provided Edmunds these vehicles for the purposes of evaluation.