Now I know what you’re thinking, these cars don’t exactly share a sector of the market when they’re new, and you’d be right. However in the used market a good RS7 and good GT-R both inhabit the £30-40k portion of the market. So they’re both similarly priced, but what exactly are you getting for your money with these two?
The Audi has a v8 compared the GT-R’s V6, both are bi-turbo charged with smatterings of torque and good exhaust notes. The RS7 is down on power to a tuned GT-R but a stage 1 remap would quickly have the Audi surpassing the Nissan. The R35 is held back by its gearbox, you can bolt some turbos on but torque is usually capped at around 620lb-ft. The RS7 on the other hand can safely handle around 800nm in the 8 speed ZF box. Costs of a 650bhp GT-R are around £4700 if done with Litchfield. An RS7 will deliver around 700bhp-1000nm for just £640 (a remap and air filter).
Things unfortunately get a little damning for the GT-R in this section. Early “CBA” cars like mine only offered half leather seats without sat-nav (yes there’s touch screen centre screen) heated seats and a BOSE stereo (if you selected that in a premium edition or above). The refinement is non existent, with tyre roar , stones hitting the underside and exhaust drone the GT-R feels very cheap. I also found the seats very uncomfortable and the ride is ridiculously harsh. Now over to the Audi.
The RS7 has full leather honeycomb-stitched sports seats, with lumbar support both fully heated and electric, Bluetooth phone prep, sat-nav, head-up-display, cylinder shutdown, auto lights and wipers , WiFi, sunroof, lashings of carbon fibre I could go on…..and not a rattle in sight. Everything feels beautifully finished and solid. I especially love the way the top of the dash beneath the windscreen is an arch of carbon-fibre. This is a car you can cruise in for hours and hours in sumptuous comfort and refinement. But the V8 can snarl and sing if you open the valves in dynamic or individual mode.
The GT-R scores strongly in this sector when compared to the Audi. The steering is still massively lacking in feel but feels direct and compliant compared to the RS7. The GT-R is a much more capable chassis with never a suggestion of understeer on the road, however the back is more than happy to break away under heavy braking and acceleration. I learned a lot about the R35 and it’s ability to pull itself back into line during a slide with minimal steering correction. Something I always hated was the GT-R felt like a pendulum in the bends, after selecting your line and input levels. Mid corner the weight starts to shift and it’s just an unpleasant feeling , not as confidence inspiring as I hoped. The GT-R was originally specced on run-flat Bridgestones, however my car had Michelin Pilot sports and despite dropping a sidewall size front and rear, you could feel the sidewalls flexing mid corner when really pushed , again a worrying feeling through the wheel. (I’m grateful for the knurling on the factory rims.)
The RS7 is a very different beast, satisfying surges of torque and power will launch you out of a village onto any A-road with ease. But what’s it like when you get to a twisty road? Erm……. numb is the word I’m going for. There’s about 2 inches of off centre steering with literally no weight or feel whatsoever. My car is specced with air-suspension, which to it’s credit in dynamic mode really limits body roll and the car feels more composed than I expected. But vagueness is how it all feels to me. I’ve enjoyed mid-speed corners with guesswork, but I took a brave pill and went into a tight right-hander on a B-road and had no clue how the car was going to respond. If you’re slow and deliberate the RS7 can be compliant and communicative, but in all honesty it’s definitely a family hauler and motorway mile-muncher. I’m sure dynamic ride control equipped cars are more composed, but a 2-tonne land-yacht is never going to set lap records. The RS7 will undoubtedly be a rocket when it’s tweaked and fettled with to the tune of 700bhp, but I would rather change the steering dynamics than the power levels and I know other C7 owners who feel the same.
As I began, the RS7 and GT-R have very little in common other than their current price point. But I’ve used both daily and I must admit I wouldn’t go back to a GT-R now. I said when I very first got the R35 that if I’d paid much more for it I would’ve felt ripped off. Yes it could be improved with loads of sound deadening, nicer seats and a more modern infotainment system but then you may as well start over. If driving is all you care about and it’s purely a weekend toy I encourage you to buy one. They’re great fun, you get a lot of attention and they demolish most British roads. But if you need to use it as a car I would stay clear unless you have ear-defenders and a good chiropractor. The RS7 was a revelation to me when I first tested it. That V8 roar on cold-start yet near silent once the doors were shut. Seats that’ll support you and comfort you for hundreds of miles. Yes it’s slow (relatively speaking in present company). But as a package (apart from 5 seats) I can’t think of much the RS7 doesn’t offer the petrolhead. More power can be extricated from the mighty PowerPlant with relative ease (just a remap and air filters up to stage 2). APR reported one of their cars with just filters fitted doing a 2.6 second 0-60 run and 10.6 second 1/4 mile so it can be a nuclear missile if you ask it nicely. Mine will be for sale before spring 2021 so if anyone wants a really rare colour/spec RS7 covered in carbon fibre please get in touch.