Audi SA has expanded its RS line-up to six with the launch of an RS 7 Sportback. Be warned - beneath its luxurious design lurks a 412kW beast that needs to be tamed... S3 Sportback, S Q5, S1... Audi is launching a number of S-badged vehicles in South Africa. Not to miss out on its share of the limelight, the first of a new generation of RS models has landed.Through February 2014 Audi has doubled-up on its performance offerings with the launch of the first RS-badged SUV in its “Q” line-up, the RS Q3, and the supercar-hunting RS7 Sportback. Still to come are the S1, S8 and TTS but more on those models later...With the launch of its RS 7 and RS Q3, Audi has grown its RS line-up (Audi RS 4 Avant, RS 5 Coupé, RS 5 Cabriolet and TTRS Coupé) to six.IMAGE GALLEY: 2014 Audi RS 7 SportbackThe new RS 7 Sportback is 5m long, 1.9m wide and 1.4m tall with a wheelbase of 2.9m. The RS 7 Sportback in made of 20% aluminium and includes many high-strength steel parts.THE BEASTPowering the RS 7 is a four-litre V8 TFSI capable of 412kW/700Nm mated to an eight-speed tiptronic gearbox driving all four-wheels. Since Audi’s seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox can’t cope with the tuned 4.0 TFSI's torque, the RS7 uses the pervasive ZF eight-speed auto.The RS 7 Sportback rockets, for that is what this family-car does, to 100km/h in 3.9 seconds and on to a limited top speed of 250km/h in standard configuration, 280km/h with the optional dynamic package and 305km/h in dynamic package plus guise. Fuel consumption is rated at 9.8 litres/100km with emissions of 229g/km.TAMING THE BEASTWhat’s it like it drive? In short, the RS7 is utterly mental and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s akin to a wrestling bear in a tuxedo, albeit one that's attached to a trailer and capable of reaching more than 300km/h. The RS7 delivers one of the most engaging of driving experiences, but there is a caveat – you better know what you’re doing.Braking hard, swinging for the apex, wrestling the car to some semblance of tidy driving...there’s an overwhelming sense of pride as you’re forced to employ all your driving know-how during a spirited drive but it dawned on me that there might be individuals who have more Rands than sense.Be warned – beneath its luxurious design lurks a beast that needs to be tamed. AUDI GONE WILDDriven at moderate speeds its handling is crisp, body roll non-existent and the RS systems in place enable it to be perfectly poised on the road, as civilised as any other A7. Put your foot down and it becomes an entirely different animal, for this a strait-laced Audi gone wild!At high-speed the power is nothing short of visceral, with explosive acceleration and grin-inducing torque. It's handling shifts from poised and clean to downright manic as its torque-vectoring rear differential makes the most of its dynamic capabilities. It's through the corners that you'll either become smitten or horrified by its performance as it reveals a sense of 'hooliganism' and liveliness. The responsive steering removes the perception that you're hauling a substantial mass, that is until you begin braking and lining-up for a bend. You’ll find yourself taking on a line that’s too tight through corners and have to wrestle your way back. With less steering and more throttle finesse you'll be rewarded with impeccable balance but then, where's the fun?In longer, slower corners the rear sports diff can be felt helping to fight the centrifugal force generated through the twisties. The grip’s there and you'll build up trust that the car will respond to your bidding, expect at high-speeds the RS7 isn't keen on listening.CYLINDER ON DEMAND The RS 7 Sportback has a cylinder on demand (COD) system. During gentle(ish) use, the engine shuts down four of its cylinders and enables the 4.0 TFSI to run as a four-cylinder engine. Keeping you on the tar are four internally vented discs measuring 390mm up front though optional 420mm carbon fibred ceramic discs with grey callipers which can be ordered as part of the Dynamic Package plus. Its air suspension can lower the body by 20mm and its adaptive damping adjusts the suspension’s response based on road conditions, driver style and mode selected. The sport suspension plus with dynamic ride control (DRC) can be used as an alternative to the air suspension. It uses steel springs and adjustable dampers. DESIGNThe RS 7 Sportback has been given an assertive design as befits a vehicle of its stature, these include distinctive bumpers, black honeycomb grille, aluminium trim, spoiler, diffuser and large, elliptical exhausts. Inside, the dials has finished in black, the scales in white and needles in red. A 3D RS 7 logo displays on the tachometer while the three-spoked leather steering wheel, illuminated door sills and MMI driver information system sport RS badges. The footrest and pedals have an aluminium finish. Carbon-fibred inlays are standard, with four additional materials available as options. The rooflining is standard in black cloth, with options in silver or black.The RS sport seats have pronounced side bolsters and covered in a combination of black leather and quilted sections. The seats can also be covered alternatively in honeycomb-quilted leather in either black or silver. Audi offers optional power-adjustable comfort seats with memory function. Switchable flaps in the exhaust system make the engine sound even more sonorous and buyers can also opt for a sport exhaust system. Luggage capacity ranges is 535 litres and can be increased to 1390 litres with the rear seats folded.The standard MMI navigation plus is bolstered with the addition of Bluetooth online car, Audi connect services and a wireless local area network connects the passengers’ mobile devices. The RS7 has an advanced Bang & Olufsen audio system.OVERALLThe RS7 is a stylish luxury vehicle with unabashed performance, enabling you to squeeze every ounce of dynamism out of it. Any attempts at vehicular-lunacy is met with advanced electronic systems and relentless grip. It's brilliant provided you know what you're what you're doing.The Audi RS 7 Sportback is priced at *R1 450 500 and is sold with a five-year or 100 000km Audi Freeway Plan. According to Audi, it hopes to sell 40 RS 7 Sportbacks in 2014.MORE FROM AUDIAudi SA will boost its local range later in 2014 with the introduction of its smallest S-badged hatchback yet – the 170kW S1. Powering the latest entrant to the S Quattro series is the Volkswagen Group’s new 2.0-litre TFSI capable of 170kW/370Nm, mated to a short-shift six-speed manual. Audi said it’s considering its RS 6 Avant for introduction in 2015 due to “the popular demand of this model”. The second quarter of 2014 will see the launch of the 200kW Audi TTS Special Edition, new S8 and S3 Cabriolet.Earlier in 2014, Wheels24 reported that Audi’s first S-badged Q5, the S Q5, and third-generation S3 Sportback arrived in SA.*The original figure has been changed following Audi SA releasing incorrect prices at the time of publication.