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Ladies' choice

2014 Audi RS 7 much more than a high-priced boy toy

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The 2014 Audi RS 7 (top), a.k.a. the red car, will win the hearts of drivers be they male or female. Two of the RS 7's 15 Bang & Olufsen speakers are located in its dashboard (above). Push the gas pedal too hard and and it won't be long before the speedometer (right) reads 160 km/h.

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Postmedia Network Inc. The 2014 Audi RS 7 (top), a.k.a. the red car, will win the hearts of drivers be they male or female. Two of the RS 7's 15 Bang & Olufsen speakers are located in its dashboard (above).

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Postmedia Network Inc. Push the gas pedal too hard and and it won't be long before the speedometer (right) reads 160 km/h.

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An Audi RS 7 is a man's car, a 560-horsepower gangster of a sedan, the kind few women will lust after. Women are sensible (except when it comes to shoes); they're prudent enough to resist any argument that tries to justify spending more than $100,000 on a car. Always the ones to make reasoned decisions, they keep us unshaven knuckle-draggers from frivolously depleting the family's savings for such necessities as fast cars, old trucks or another set of BBS rims clad in cup tires. Women, it goes without saying, are simply smarter than men, able to strip away their hyperbole like husk from corn.

An Audi RS 7, with a starting price of $115,000 and the acceleration of a Ferrari, could therefore never withstand the scrutiny of a female's natural assessment because, in her mind, speed and aerodynamics are irrelevant when it comes to transportation -- not to mention the cost of an RS 7 is probably five times greater than the average wedding.

The man, in proposing to acquire such a spectacular beast, must never even mention the 516 pound-feet of torque in his argument because such metrics are meaningless to most of the female species. Women, it seems, invariably choose sensible over sensational, value over vivacious. An RS 7 is simply too extravagant. A true gentleman would never bother to table a discussion about buying one.

"I love this car!" reads the first of many text messages from my wife, which, in the few weeks following our possession of this elegant Audi, was known to her as "the red car," despite the fact "Audi" or "RS 7" is shorter and simpler.

Despite the fact many women would never choose a car for its speed or prestige, the question most repeated while we were lucky enough to have the big sedan a short while was, "Can I take the red car?"

Her affection for the 2014 Audi RS 7 is certainly not misplaced, nor is it unique.

Because style is something both sexes can appreciate, an RS 7 is like fine art, equally appreciated by anyone.

On looks alone, the A7 -- shaped to look like a coupe, in turn cleverly fashioned to disguise the fact this car is a hatchback -- is simply one of the sexiest to come from Ingolstadt, ever more so in RS trim. As soon as my wife's cousin and sister-in-law were aboard for a girls' getaway to her mother's, the phone lit up again, "What a car!" said the first text. "So awesome," said another. "Scary how fast it goes," and again, "I'm in love with this car."

I am not making this up.

These women do not know that twin turbos feeding a 4.0-litre V-8 producing 560 horsepower position the RS 7 on a trajectory to 100 km/h in under four seconds -- even if they have become addicted to "trying it out."

They have also, like 16-year-olds with their first car, taken to revving the engine while parked, in an effort to impress anyone who will listen to the RS 7's barking, mad-dog exhaust. They do recognize some serious engineering has gone into this Audi because they have also noticed the engine cannot be heard -- nor can it be felt -- at any time when driving sensibly, that it is as smooth as George Clooney after a single margarita. They are blissfully unaware Audi's quattro AWD system is constantly monitoring all four wheels for slip.

It did not take long for them to discover what happens when the pedal is pushed hard and, in a flutter of seconds, the exhaust ports open to deliver some seriously raunchy sound and before you know it, 160 km/h has arrived.

Yes, logical innocents turned into lawbreakers thanks to Audi. Even mother-in-law, age 82, was impressed.

Another text arrives: "Keep hitting 140. Where is cruise control?" (Turns out it had malfunctioned.)

Even if those exhaust rhythms are what most men want to hear most often, the ladies become far more taken by the purity of the optional Bang & Olufsen sound package, delivering 1,200 watts of crystal-clear notes through 15 speakers, two of which rise up from the dash. Too bad the system won't recognize iPods older than three years old, they complained. It can, however, retrieve music via Bluetooth, the hookup for which was noted as "simple."

With three women in the car, one had to ride in back. Less impressed with the comfort of the seats than the elegant stitching and leather, one found head room an issue, especially for She of the Big Hair. While the rear-seat heaters were lauded, none of the gals, oddly, were taken by the Alcantara headliner, something most men seem to adore. And why doesn't a $115,000 car come with a heated steering wheel?

Small details most car reviewers take for granted were appreciated: things such as the centre armrest in the back that held food and drinks in different-sized cups, unlike the front cup holders that were far less functional.

Side-view mirrors (carbon fibre in the case of the RS) were enjoyed for their large view and blind-spot monitoring; the head-up display was liked because it also showed navigational features (though one wanted speed limit info up there). Having multiple climate settings for each zone was widely praised, since each woman was of a different vintage and, therefore, had a different need for heat.

Despite complaints from many auto journalists that Audi's MMI controls are too complex, none of these women objected to the way the car various features were accessed.

Then again, none of them took note of the accurate steering, taught handling and deft braking. None of them mentioned the brilliant LED lighting or the deliberate decisions of the eight-speed transmission, or that highway fuel economy, at roughly 8.5 L/100 km, was good enough for a range of 750 kilometres on a full tank -- stuff that required my experienced observation. Which would have been possible if only I were able to get the keys back from them.

The amazing thing about the RS7 is that its adoration by those of the XX chromosome in no way niches the big red beast as a "chick" car. Indeed, not even the fact it boasts such pragmatics as all-wheel drive and an automatic transmission change the fact the Audi is now my favourite car of all time.

Acceleration, engine (and B & O stereo) sound and comportment are all, if not class-leading, at the very least, more than sufficient.

The fact my previous favourite ride of the past 22 years has been BMW's then-incredible 1992 M5 -- again with the four doors and again with the sweet-sounding engine -- proves I am at least consistent in my criteria, if not my brands.

You could, if you were filthy rich, spend more money on a car. You can't, no matter how much you spend, buy a better car.

 

-- Postmedia Network Inc. 2014

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