GREY HOUNDS
evo India|February 2021
600 horses, twin-turbo V8s, all-wheel-drive, launch control, lap timers and four doors. These are family cars you can take to the race track
SIRISH CHANDRAN

IS IT WEIRD TO BEGIN A TEST OF 300KMPH monsters with a commentary on, erm, ride quality? Last time I checked it said Thrill of Driving on the masthead of this magazine, not Chilling. Then again when four doors are attached to your twin-turbo V8, the obvious allusion is to you being of a generous disposition, accommodating the entourage while hotfooting to the hills. Maybe you’d like to warm the rear quarters once in a while, it also being fair to assume your time is way too valuable to waste on elbowing through traffic snarls. And on this score the Audi, hands down, wins this test.

I draw your attention to the wheels — monster 21-inchers that, by every acceptable yardstick, spell murder for your spine. Yet, the RS7 Sportback rides almost as comfortably as a diesel 5 Series, prompting us to visit what used to be our favourite shoot location, now situated at the wrong end of what truly is a horrendous drive. Zero f**ks towards road maintenance means the road we once used to scythe through with our big bikes can now only be tackled with an ADV, strewn as it is with gravel, potholes and, not that you get up to any speeds, a generous peppering of speed breakers to rub your belly over. But it’s also the ultimate test of ride quality and, in the RS7, I reach our rendezvous tea-point at the foot of the hill climb, order breakfast, and then wait a further 15 minutes for the rest to arrive. Where the M5 and especially the GT 63 have to slow down to a crawl the RS7 can, if not gallop, at least canter. You apply the same caution as you would if you were driving the aforementioned diesel 5 Series and that’s about it — no extra care for low-pro tyres or jabbing the button to raise the suspension and crab for every speed breaker. The RS7 rides astonishingly well. Two days later, I even handed over the ’wheel to assistant editor Aatish to chauffeur me through Mumbai while I marked my presence at yet another virtual round table. And not once did I yell at poor Aatish to slow down. It’s magic. And it should mean the handling is all over the place. Except…

WE NOW COME TO THE PART YOU ACTUALLY want to read about. Few bother with torturing their spine or their cars to get to where we are and that means we have the place all to ourselves. It also means breakfast has to be prepped from scratch and we use the time to hose down and stare at the cars.

These three are stunning. Obviously the most flamboyant is the AMG, that monstrously toothy Panamerica grille and nostrils flared in anger hoovering up entire villages en route and exhausting them in a mighty bellow through those gigantic quad, err, quad-shaped pipes. Opinions might be divided on this count but I think AMG have done a damn fine job of replicating the (2-door) GT’s style and lines over the much larger MRA platform from the E 63 AMG. Festooned in (optional) carbon including that breakfast table bolted onto the rear hatch, the AMG looks exquisite; on the money. Nothing makes a visual or even aural statement as this AMG, the GT thundering its arrival in a hail of noise. Just be careful of the wheel centre caps, they have a habit of divorcing themselves from the rims as is evident in the pictures.

The Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4-door Coupe is the most wordy AMG on sale right now, the most powerful, most over-endowed and most expensive at ₹2.57 crore. And speaking of money, this test isn’t a straight-forward group test as there’s a near-1 crore rupee price gap between the M5 and the GT 63, with the RS7 sitting plump in the middle at ₹1.94 crore — each occupying their own little sweet spots.

The M5 Competition, at ₹1.55 crore, sits at the other end of the scale. To the untrained eye this could be a diesel 5 Series but M5 owners don’t bother with such trivialities. This is the car that immediately springs to mind when you think of a fast four-door saloon, all other fast four-doors being usurpers to the M5’s crown. And I absolutely love the BMW’s looks, the stance, the way it hunkers down on those 20-inch rims, the muscles ripping and almost bursting out of the stretched metal. It is subtle enough to fly under the radar, yet even a sideways glance will get enthusiasts weak in the knees. And it shouts out its intent — not as vehemently as the AMG — but the pops, crackles and thunders are layered with unbridled enthusiasm.

I think that’s the biggest miss for the Audi. It sounds too, erm, tame. There is a deep-chested V8 rumble as it gargles high-octane juice at idle, especially when you hit the RS modes and the exhaust flap opens. But the decibels don’t assault your ears. People in the next city don’t hear you arriving. It isn’t a hooligan. And as for the styling, it isn’t an angry bird either. Audi grilles, just by their sheer size, have always made for angry cars, but in this company the RS7 doesn’t look like it has a beef to settle with the rest of the world. None of these are beautiful cars, but the Audi is the most elegant, the swoopy Sportback styling rendering proper beauty to the hindquarters. And of course, Audi does a crazy light show that could have been needlessly garish but is so tastefully executed that even grizzled veterans on our test team repeatedly locked and unlocked it when the sun went down. It is an appropriately expensive trick for what is a properly expensive car.

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