After driving Audi’s new tech-fest A7 in South Africa, I found so much I preferred, and some issues I did not
Take into consideration the brand new Audi A7, and your thoughts will most likely be fixating on its hilariously giant grille. However, there’s so much happening behind that massive gob, and it’s principally good things. It’s as a lot of a distinct segment automotive because the earlier one, however an interesting factor nonetheless, and it successfully previews its incoming A6 saloon sibling.
Right here’s what we discovered after a two-day drive on the automotive’s launch in South Africa:
Driving the Audi A7 is severely stress-free. The journey from the optionally available air suspension (an choice that’s price ticking) is impeccably clean, with a caveat – proceedings take a crashy flip if you happen to go for large wheels and the decrease, stiffer S Line suspension. The latter does make a noticeable distinction to physique roll, however on a automotive like this, it doesn’t appear definitely worth the journey sacrifice.
Noise from the surface world is saved very low in the meantime, and the cabin is totally beautiful. The seats assist you in simply the correct method, the leatherwork is beautiful, and the place specced, the wooden trim seems deliciously good. That is automotive luxurious performed proper.
All of the vehicles we tried in South Africa got here with the energetic rear-wheel steering system, and it does make a distinction. Underneath 60kmh the rear wheels flip the alternative solution to the entrance ones to assist agility, and above that they flip in the identical path within the title of stability.
Certain sufficient, the A7 does really feel oddly full of life for a near-1900kg automotive in tighter bends, and also you get a sense of nice shock when it doesn’t flop round like a beached whale in demanding higher-speed cornering. However don’t anticipate the A7 to be a sports-saloon-cum-coupe, as a result of it isn’t.
It’s all very tied down and secure. It’ll fortunately get you from one place to a different competently and really shortly, however with out a lot in the way in which of pleasure. A Quattro all-wheel drive system which tends to offer method into – as you’d anticipate – good, predictable understeer is an element, however a number of the dearth of thrill issue is right down to the engines.
The three.0-litre turbocharged V6 is disarmingly clean and whisper quiet, even with what seems like somewhat synthetic audio enhancement. It’s stress-free (see our earlier level about refinement), however removed from thrilling. That type of works within the A7, which makes the petrol model extra interesting over the diesel – the one most will purchase. The latter has a punchier mid-range and shall be much more economical, however don’t low cost the petrol.
From the semi-autonomous performance to the trio of screens up entrance, the A7 is stuffed filled with tech. Maybe essentially the most attention-grabbing half although is the ‘delicate hybrid system’ – it’s fairly advanced, so keep on with us. There’s nonetheless a traditional starter motor, however that is used for chilly begins and chilly begins alone. Each different time the engine fires up, it’s the job of the water-cooled 48-volt belt alternator starter, or ‘BAS’.
There’s a lithium-ion battery within the boot, which could be replenished by as much as 12kW of power underneath braking or coasting. Plus, the re-gen could be rigorously managed if the entrance digital camera detects a slowing car in entrance. Intelligent stuff.
So, what’s the purpose of all that? Effectivity, principally – whereas coasting the engine can disengage solely, and the start-stop operate can improve as much as speeds of 11mph. It could possibly prevent as much as 0.7 litres of gas for each 62 miles you drive, and – our favorite bit – it reduces turbo lag. Because of this the V6 petrol is noticeably extra responsive than you’d anticipate, though over within the diesel, it hasn’t managed to kill off lag solely.
In a couple of years’ time, 48-volt techniques like this are going to be extremely widespread, and to date, that’s wanting like a superb factor.
I had two very completely different experiences with the A7’s semi-autonomous performance. It’s nonetheless a extra fundamental system (Stage 3 autonomy is being added at a later date, together with a distant parking function), however on my first attempt, it appeared like the perfect, smoothest system of its kind I’ve but used. Steering inputs felt mild and pure (you may’t say the identical of Volvo’s jerky Pilot Help), the braking was clean and well-timed, and it’ll solely allow you to take your palms off the wheel for a couple of seconds. Which is the way in which it needs to be.
However on the second outing, it didn’t appear glad in any respect. It was always drifting throughout into different lanes, and customarily wanted extra human intervention. Maybe the highway markings weren’t as clear – we’re unsure. We’ll want to check the system additional earlier than giving our full verdict.
The beginning worth of £54,940 for the A7 actually is a beginning worth. As is the case with most stuff from Audi – and certainly German vehicles usually – you’re going to need to stick on some choices that may inflate that worth by a major quantity. And proper on the high of your listing needs to be the Bang and Olufsen sound system – it delivers a deep, crisp and satisfying sound, whether or not you’re enjoying the London Symphony Orchestra or some early Snoop Dogg.
The engine within the petrol A7 is broadly the identical because the one within the S4, with a vital distinction: it’s hooked as much as Audi’s ‘S Tronic’ seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, not the ZF-derived eight-speed torque converter computerized. ‘Cling on,’ you’re most likely considering, ‘So the sporty S4 has a standard auto, and the wafty A7 has the snappier DCT?’ Nope, we don’t get it both, and once we requested a couple of of Audi’s technical individuals on the launch, we weren’t given a transparent reply as to why.
It’s a disgrace because the diesel A7 does have the auto, and is all the higher for it. It’s the type of ‘field you shortly neglect about as a result of it’s so refined in the way in which it really works, and that’s the way it needs to be for a automotive like this. The DCT then again works very effectively in guide mode, however stick it in auto, and also you’ll discover it simply can’t make its thoughts up if you’re altering your throttle inputs.
There’s been an unwritten rule for years that German luxurious vehicles merely should not have a contact display. However, little doubt fuelled by the sensible cellphone revolution, Audi is ditching the rotary management for a contact display format, which operates, effectively… very like a sensible cellphone. I get why – that’s how punters anticipate to work together with expertise lately, however I’m nonetheless adamant that vehicles can’t be handled the identical, just because a rotary controller is less complicated to make use of on the transfer than a contact display.
Nevertheless, preserving an open thoughts, what’s the brand new system like? It actually seems spectacular: together with the Digital Cockpit display used for the instrument binnacle – which seems sharper than ever – you get a pair of contact screens with a haptic suggestions response, with the most important one measuring 10.1 inches. And sure, the heater controls have been moved to a display, however since you may simply depart them up on the decrease 8.6-inch show more often than not, it’s not as massive a problem because it may very well be.
Open thoughts or not although, it simply didn’t appear as intuitive to make use of because the previous system, and in comparison with BMW’s better-than-ever iDrive system, it’s somewhat too difficult. In fact it’s somewhat pointless calling it ‘unintuitive’ after driving the automotive for less than two days – precise homeowners are going to have longer to get used to it and the unusual-feeling service that wants extra of a push than a contact to function. However is the local weather management ever going to be as simple to make use of on the transfer as if it had bodily controls? I don’t suppose so.
Even with the big grille (Audi’s design individuals advised us that, unsurprisingly, that’s as massive because the trapezoid grille goes to get), I’m keen on the way in which the A7 seems. It’s fairly but placing, and combines its neat aesthetics with distinctive luxurious and an obscene quantity of tech. A BMW 6-series Gran Coupe goes to be sportier to drive, however in order for you one thing smarter and extra stress-free, the A7 is in one other league. Will the subsequent Mercedes CLS be the higher automotive? We’ll discover out in a couple of weeks once we drive it for the primary time, however for now, it seems just like the bar has been set relatively excessive.