Perhaps the most interesting thing about Audi's new S7 is what it's not: the fastest car in the Sportback range. Despite the S7's 414 horsepower, that honour now goes to the even newer RS7, recently unveiled in all its be-spoilered glory with the promise of performance to embarrass all but the very latest supercar.
Does the existence of an even newer, faster car diminish the S7's halo? A little, for the object behind this kind of conveyance is to own the swiftest and best, and the £20k price premium over the - already hugely admirable - standard version of the A7 is intended to buy you superlative performance and unimpeachable bragging rights.
The S7 is probably fast enough for most people. It's also a pretty sizeable vehicle. Under that svelte skin, quattro four-wheel drive and a turbo-charged V8 (the same unit used in Bentley's Continental GT V8) somehow manages to propel this granite-hewn lump of bleeding edge Germanic designer tropes into the near distance at unimaginable speeds. There's power here, but the delivery is less starship and more battleship, as the capacious cabin and boot give you luggage space and legroom aplenty.
We've commented before on how this fastback body style is one of Audi's most successful bodyshapes in years, with a fluidity and sense of overall proportion that betters most of its (much smaller) siblings. Audi's interior stylings are pretty familiar by now, but they're still exceptional, with switchgear so silky that you want to go back and press things again, and a media interface that's still one of the best on the market.
There's a certain inverse snobbishness in not sticking your neck out and insisting on the biggest, best and most expensive of everything. Now that the RS7 has usurped the S7's crown as the swiftest big Audi, the S7 takes a slight but welcome dip below the radar. Sure, it's S7 is thirstier and dirtier than other, lesser, models in the line-up, but it's still beautiful and (relatively discrete). However, we'll wait to drive the RS7 before making up our minds which to chose.