Flagship with coupé lines, limousine comfort and hatchback versatility
Audi’s saloon flagship, the A8, is a very fine car. But some owners want the luxury and equipment of the A8 along with a touch more sportiness and flair. Step forward the A7 – a four door, four-seater luxury car with a coupé-like profile and a tailgate for access to the flexible luggage space.
The A7 follows the latest Audi design language of large surfaces, sharp edges and taut, athletic lines. The singleframe grille is wider and lower than that of the A8, emphasising the car’s sportier character, and is flanked by narrow LED headlights. A long bonnet, long wheelbase and short overhangs give it the look of a sports coupé, as does the sloping roofline. At the rear, a tapering rear end treatment ends with a curved lip to the tailgate that also contains an automatically-extending spoiler. A large and distinctive single-piece OLED rear light bar joins the rear lights, whose tail lights are made up of 13 vertical segments.
Inside, the horizontal lines and sleek instrument panel create a sense of airy spaciousness that Audi describes as a ‘futuristic lounge’ atmosphere. Audi’s design team has removed as much clutter and switchgear as possible, concentrating all the infotainment and control interface in two large touchscreens.
The A7 is available with a choice of two powertrains. The 50 TDI diesel is powered by a 3.0-litre V6 and can accelerate from 0-62mph in just 5.7 seconds. The 55 TFSI covers the same sprint in just 5.3 seconds, but at the expense of increased fuel consumption. Both powertrains feature the seven speed S tronic transmission and quattro all-wheel drive.
All engines feature a new mild hybrid system (MHEV) based on a 48-volt electrical system, delivering greater fuel efficiency and comfort. For example, the engine can coast in freewheeling mode at speeds between 34 and 99mph and it also activates stop-start at speeds of up to 13.7mph. This is claimed to improve fuel economy by as much as 10 per cent.
The A7 comes with Audi’s latest dual-screen infotainment system, with the top one measuring 10.1in and dealing with the radio, sat-nav and smartphone mirroring, while the 8.6in screen below is reserved for the climate controls. Both offer razor-sharp graphics and clear haptic feedback. Ahead of the driver all instrumentation is conveyed in a programmable Virtual Cockpit, putting all the information the driver needs clearly in view.
In Sport trim, the A7 comes with LED headlights, 19in alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors with a reversing camera, cruise control, electric leather seats, sat-nav, a DAB radio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring as well as a powered tailgate. S line adds adaptive LED lights, 20in wheels, sport suspension and more aggressive S line styling.
The new A7 Sportback features a total of 39 driver assistance systems to make things easier and safer for the driver while continuing the trend towards semi-autonomous driving in traffic or on motorways. Automatic emergency braking is standard, as is lane departure assist, but blindspot monitoring and traffic sign recognition are options. As with the A8 with which it shares its technology, Audi plans to roll out a more comprehensive level of autonomous safety systems over time.
Verdict: if you want a luxury four-door, but don’t want to look too corporate, the A7 combines all the good things about the A8 in a body style that’s both sleeker and more individual. Despite the coupé-like lower roofline it’s still a spacious and comfortable way for four adults to travel long distances, and the tailgate with flexible folding rear seats adds an extra touch of versatility.