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The 2014 Audi S7 is a good measure of how lofty the standards are for luxury cars these days. Not even a decade ago, the regular A7 would have been considered an incredible performance machine, with its athletic all-wheel-drive chassis and 310-horsepower supercharged V6. But these days, it's just par for the course, so Audi felt compelled to crank up the performance a few more notches. That's where the S7 comes in -- and believe us, we're not complaining one bit.

The S7's magic mostly emanates from under its curvaceous hood, where you'll find a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 that's good for 420 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. We're honestly running out of superlatives to describe these new force-fed German engines. Audi's twin-turbo V8 is distinguished by its relatively small displacement, but otherwise its principal attributes are as expected: incredible strength and equally incredible refinement. There are much stouter engines available at the S7's price point, of course, but we could use this one every day without ever wanting more.

Like the regular A7, the S7 is a questionable choice if you want to carry people or cargo, as its fastback roofline takes a big bite out of cabin volume. Nonetheless, you can squeeze in four adults and their luggage, and we think the S7's dashing style makes up for any inconveniences. We still can't quite believe that Audi felt the S7 was really necessary, but, hey, it's a great time to be a driver if you appreciate great cars. Add the 2014 Audi S7 to that list.

What's New for 2014?

A blind spot monitoring system and power-folding exterior mirrors are newly standard, and the Black Optic appearance package debuts as an option.

What We Like

Phenomenal twin-turbocharged V8; sport-sedan handling; finely crafted interior; enviable looks

What We Don't

Limited rear headroom; shallow hatchback trunk

How Much?

$81,095

Fuel Economy

The all-wheel-drive S7 packs a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 rated at 420 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. The transmission is a 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual.

Fuel economy is a strong suit, at least by segment standards. Thanks in part to a cylinder-deactivation system that enables the engine to cruise with just four cylinders, the Environmental Protection Agency rates the S7 at 17 miles per gallon city/27 mpg highway.

Standard Features & Options

Like other Audi S models, the 4-seat S7 ($81,095) is offered in one well-equipped trim level. It comes with 19- or 20-inch alloy wheels, quad exhaust tips, xenon headlamps, an adjustable air suspension, a sport rear differential, a sunroof, a blind spot monitoring system, power-folding exterior mirrors, Audi's Drive Select system (featuring electronic adjustments for steering, throttle and transmission) and Multi-Media Interface (MMI), leather upholstery, a sport steering wheel with shift paddles, power sport seats with diamond stitching, a Google-Earth-based navigation system, Wi-Fi hot spot capability and a Bose audio system.

Options include an Innovation package (head-up display and night-vision assistant with pedestrian detection); full LED headlights; a Driver Assistance package (adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation with automatic braking, lane-departure prevention and a corner-view camera system); a Cold Weather package (heated steering wheel and rear seats); a Comfort Seating package (22-way power front sport seats with ventilation and massage functions, as well as Valcona leather upholstery); a Black Optic package (gloss black exterior trim and bi-color 20-in wheels); an Alcantara headliner and a concert-quality Bang & Olufsen audio system.

Safety

The 2014 Audi S7 comes with standard stability control and 4-wheel anti-lock ventilated disc brakes. Eight standard airbags are located throughout the cabin (front, front side, front knee, full-length side curtain), with additional rear side airbags offered as an option. The S7 also offers a blind spot monitoring system, a lane-departure prevention system, a collision-mitigation system with automatic braking, a corner-view camera system and night-vision assist with pedestrian detection.

Behind the Wheel

The S7 is a porker on paper, with a curb weight approaching 4,400 pounds. You'd never know it from behind the wheel, though, as the S7 feels for all the world like a compact sport sedan when you're pushing it. Audi has worked some serious magic here, starting with the rear-biased Quattro all-wheel-drive system, which features a standard sport rear differential that keeps power and grip on the same page in hard cornering. The S7 also boasts a responsive, precise steering calibration that imparts a sense of confidence and control. On the flip side, the ride is rather firm, even with Drive Select set to Comfort. But that's generally the way it is with high-performance German machines, and we think it's a small price to pay given the S7's stupendous all-around skill set.

Other Cars to Consider

BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe -- Skip the 6-cylinder 640i if this Audi is in your sights, but the 650i Gran Coupe with its twin-turbo V8 is aimed squarely at the S7.

Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class -- Even the base CLS550 is a twin-turbocharged beast with surprisingly capable handling for a Benz. If you've got the cash to spare, though, there's no substitute for the shockingly fast CLS63 AMG.

Porsche Panamera -- The reality is that even a standard Panamera V6 can cost more than an S7 with the typical array of Porsche options. We consider the S7 a superior alternative to the Panamera V6, and a tough matchup even for the V8-powered Panamera S.

AutoTrader's Advice

The S7 keeps the A7's beauty and adds a hefty helping of brawn. What's left to complain about? If you buy it, we can more or less guarantee you'll love it.

Find an Audi S7 for sale

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Josh Sadlier is an automotive journalist based in Los Angeles and has contributed to such publications as Edmunds.com and DriverSide.com. He holds arguably the most unexpected degree in his profession: a master's in Theological Studies.

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