Sportback 3.0 TDI quattro S line
is going Sportback-mad at
moment. Weve only just seen the
launch of the S5 Sportback (the
sporty version of the A5 Sportback)
and now Audi is launching yet
another new model the bigger A7
THINK OF THIS NEWCOMER as halfway between an A6 and an A8; and halfway between
a practical hatchback and a sleek coupe. Audi's stab at the big four-door
coupe format may be a little late to the party but arguably it's a much
more successful attempt than BMW's bloated 5 Series GT. Probably its
closest competitors are the Mercedes CLS and Jaguar XF.
The new A7 Sportback is a big, striking car. It's longer and wider than the
Audi A6 but also lower so it really does look imposing on the road.
It's got a lot going for it stylistically, from the swoopy nose to the angular
haunches and dramatic fastback roofline. From some angles, there are even shades
of Aston Martin Lagonda in there…
I'm going to edge out on a slight tangent for a moment to make an interesting
comparison between the petrol-engined A7 Sportback and the S5 Sportback.
weigh pretty much the same, at 1,755-1770kg. In petrol form they both have six-cylinder
engines: the S5 has a 328bhp 3.0-litre supercharged V6 engine; the A7 3.0 TFSI
a naturally-aspirated 'six' with 295bhp.
241bhp 3.0 TDI is
a fantastic unit,
no question about it
very rev-happy for a
bursting with torque...
Even boot space isn't much different: 480 litres in the S5; 535 litres in the
A7. And there's not a vast difference in price, either the A7 costs £48,070,
the S5 is priced at £40,965.
The biggest difference is interior space. While the head on my 5ft 8in frame
hits the rear headlining in the S5 Sportback, there's easily enough room for
a six-footer in the back of th
Audi is basically offering three six-cylinder engines: 2.8 FSI petrol, 3.0 TFSI
petrol and 3.0 TDI diesel. Because of the tax situation, almost no-one is going
to buy a petrol-powered A7 (sales are predicted to barely make triple figures
in 2011). The diesels are the ones everyone will choose about 3,000 of
them in 2011 in the UK.
The 241bhp 3.0 TDI is a fantastic unit, no question about it it's refined,
very rev-happy for a diesel and bursting with torque. But I actually prefer
the 3.0 TFSI petrol version. It's got much more character, a great sound and
more raw speed. If you can afford the running costs and the extra tax, it's
a great choice.
There's no manual gearbox option for the A7, just Multitronic auto or S tronic
dual-clutch transmissions. The seven-speed S tronic system is as brilliant in
the A7 as any other Audi: it changes up and down with uncanny instantaneousness
and its tiptronic mode (using the shift paddles behind the steering wheel) is
superb for press-on driving.
You can buy a front-drive-only A7 diesel with less power if you wish but the
rest of the A7 range has quattro all-wheel drive fitted. Quattro versions apportion
torque sixty per cent to the rear wheels and 40% to the front ones, which means
the feel is much more like a rear-drive car (as are all of the A7's rivals).
Yet quattro makes the car extremely grippy and very forgiving. For an even sportier
feel, the optional sport differential can transfer torque between each of the
rear wheels as well.
just about possible to get the A7 out of shape if you bowl into a corner too
quickly; the back end will start to slide before the stability control gently
intervenes. Despite its bulk, the A7 is great to hustle along B-roads and the
fun feel is also helped by direct and well-weighted steering. Yet the A7 is
also very refined, a superb cruising machine which rides with convincing comfort.
the A7 is great to hustle
along B-roads and the
fun feel is also helped
by direct and well-
Cabin ambience is another strong suit. Audi has notched a new high with the
A7 in terms of design, feel and finish. The seats are superb and ultra-adjustable,
the driving position is impeccable and the quality of the fittings and trim
is beyond reproach. There's also no better SatNav system than the A7's, which
now boasts Google Earth imagery it's amazing to see the scenery flashin
My only gripe really is how expensive a fully specced A7 can get. Audi's range
of tech-fest options will have you salivating but the prices are enough to make
your eyes water too. For instance, the Bang & Olufsen 1200W audio system is
a blistering bit of kit and more powerful than a mid-sized PA
but is it really worth £6,300?
The head-up display that beams info on to the windscreen will make you feel
like a fighter pilot but you'll need to sell the 'plane to pay the £1,450 it
costs. Night vision is another great 'black-ops' toy, but its £2,100 price tag
and questionable safety benefits surely make it a pure extravagance.
And extravagant the A7 certainly can be: one of the stuffed-with-kit test cars
I drove would have cost you all of £72,990. To put that into perspective, you
can buy a Porsche Panamera for that. Chris Rees
Audi A7 Sportback 3.0 TDI quattro S line |
Maximum speed: 155mph | 0-62mph: 6.3 seconds | Combined MPG: 47.1mpg
Power: 241bhp | Torque: 368lb ft | CO2 158g/km