Audi says its new A7 combines the magnificence of a coupe, the performance of an Avant property, and the status of a luxurious saloon in a single handy package deal. Studying between the traces, it’s troublesome to not think about that in attempting to mix the qualities of three vehicles it can find yourself being barely worse than all of them at these respective disciplines.
The corporate has stunned us up to now nonetheless and the unique A7 stays one of many extra profitable proponents of the four-door coupe style. In styling phrases alone the most recent A7 lives as much as its predecessor, regardless of a this being a busier market today, however fashion can solely go thus far – the A7 must work on the street, too.
Having first pushed the A7 Sportback in South Africa and pushed vehicles on air suspension with four-wheel steering, we have now tried the automotive on UK roads in a extra typical setup, with metal springs and common steering – and because it seems, the easier and cheaper choice is definitely the higher alternative.
Engine, transmission and 0-62mph
At launch Audi will supply a pair of engines within the A7 Sportback, each displacing three litres, each V6, however one working on petrol and the opposite diesel. We’re aware of each now, as they’re used broadly elsewhere within the Audi vary, and predictably Audi expects round 80 per cent of A7 gross sales to go to the diesel when orders start in April.
Each are aggressive by way of energy and torque, the 3-litre TFSI (badged 55 TFSI) making 335bhp and 369lb ft of torque, and the 3-litre diesel (50 TDI) producing a decrease 282bhp however a meaty 457lb ft. Whereas each ship their energy to all 4 wheels, the route there’s totally different for every. The TFSI will get a seven-speed twin clutch transmission, however the diesel, on account of its additional torque, makes use of the eight-speed ZF torque-converter auto used broadly throughout the trade. The pair additionally use delicate hybrid know-how, detailed additional under.
These energy figures are mirrored within the vehicles’ respective efficiency numbers. The petrol is quickest off the mark, crossing the 62mph barrier in 5.3sec, 4 tenths forward of the diesel. Each are restricted to 155mph on the high finish, and whereas mixed financial system and CO2 figures haven’t but been confirmed for the diesel, the petrol is claimed to attain 40.4mpg (on 19in wheels; 39.8mpg on 20in wheels) with 158g/km of CO2 (161g/km on 20s).
A lot of the A7’s know-how has filtered down from the bigger A8. Elective four-wheel steering is one part, turning the rear wheels by as much as 5 levels in the wrong way at low speeds to enhance manoeuvrability, and as much as two levels in the identical course at larger speeds for improved stability and response at larger speeds.
A7s additionally use 48-volt delicate hybrid know-how as normal, with a belt-driven alternator-starter and a small lithium-ion battery hidden below the baggage compartment that may recuperate vitality below braking or coasting and firing up the engine as a part of a start-stop system. The system may shut down the engine when coasting for additional gas financial savings, whereas an everyday pinion starter motor is included for chilly begins.
Unusually, every makes use of a barely totally different variation on Audi’s “Quattro” all-wheel drive setup. The diesel is a everlasting all-wheel drive system with a self-locking centre differential, however the petrol makes use of an electronically-controlled multi-plate clutch-type centre diff that may disengage drive completely to the advantage of gas effectivity. If the automotive detects slip on the entrance wheels, drive may be despatched to the rears to compensate.
Inside, the A7 Sportback’s inside is very similar to that of the A8, most notably utilizing a pair of touchscreens on the centre console (10.1in for the higher display, 8.6in for the decrease) to deal with most minor capabilities. They use haptic suggestions to simulate actual buttons (fairly convincingly, really) and reply to smartphone-style prods, pinches and swipes.
What’s it wish to drive?
The steadiness of luxurious and dynamism you anticipate from a automotive like this can be a arduous one to attain. On our preliminary drive in South Africa it felt like Audi had missed the mark, however on UK roads in a unique specification, issues are improved considerably.
The issue? All vehicles on the unique launch have been geared up with each the non-obligatory adaptive air suspension and non-obligatory dynamic all-wheel steering, in each Sport and S-Line specification with 20in and 21in wheels respectively.
On the air suspension, the experience high quality falls a way in need of what we’d anticipate from a automotive of this kind. Even in its most comfy setting, the A7 by no means actually settles apart from on the smoothest surfaces, and the fixed joggling on rougher roads isn’t simply surprisingly uncomfortable, but additionally sends a resonance by means of the shell that compromises the in any other case glorious refinement.
Change to Dynamic mode and the A7 doesn’t experience a fantastic deal worse, however nor does it flip right into a sports activities saloon. It isn’t explicit sporty on the metal spring-suspended vehicles both, however crucially the experience is less complicated to take care of than it’s on air. The distinction is delicate however essential, with the springs absorbing sharper, higher-frequency bumps extra readily the place the air-suspended vehicles consistently jiggle. Each calm down additional at velocity, however the improved experience of the common setup means we might counsel steering away from the air suspension should you can.
It is tempting to say likewise with the dynamic four-wheel steering. The primary vehicles we drove, geared up with the system, did not really feel particularly agile and demonstrated an inclination to wander a bit at velocity. Automobiles with out do not shrink round you both – curiously so, because it made fairly a distinction to the bigger A8 – however whereas your turning circle at decrease speeds shall be simply over a meter wider, the conventionally-steered A7 would not appear to lose a lot in different driving situations.
The steering itself is way from being a frontrunner in its area, feeling sluggish to reply across the straight-ahead, nevertheless it’s constant if not significantly talkative thereafter. Sadly, one different criticism we had with these preliminary, larger specification vehicles – a drumming, low-frequency resonance by means of the bodyshell – appears to stay, and leaves you feeling rather less relaxed than you may on the finish of a drive.
It’s not all dangerous information. The cabin is unbelievable and that double touchscreen system among the many best of its sort to function safely. The seats are comfy and the driving place may be adjusted just-so. As well as, resonances apart, the A7 is in any other case very quiet – acoustic glazing retains wind noise to an absolute minimal, tyre noise is comparatively low, and the petrol and diesel engines are hushed at a cruise.
The petrol feels just like the engine you’d choose if gas prices aren’t an element. It feels greater than fast sufficient, is tuneful if not stirring, and pulls constantly and easily to the purple line. The diesel feels stronger for a quick few moments within the mid-range, as you’d anticipate, however doesn’t react as keenly and runs out of curiosity should you try to lengthen it additional – although the gravelly tone decrease down isn’t disagreeable. Gearchanges from the 2 totally different transmissions are easy too, although modifications within the dual-clutch automotive are ever so barely extra noticeable than these of the ZF fashions. In distinction, the S Tronic vehicles step off the mark with larger urgency than the common auto, which delivers a pause after which a surge when attempting to make a fast getaway out of junctions and at roundabouts.
Worth and rivals
UK prospects could have the choice of both Sport or S Line trim, and the 2 engine choices when the automotive goes on sale. The petrol Sport will start at £55,140, whereas S Line will raise that to £58,040. The diesel-engined Sport begins at £54,940 on the street, and rises to £57,840 for a similar engine with S Line trim. S7 and RS7 variations are seemingly in future.
That pricing places the A7 Sportback roughly on par with its closest rivals. Taking the petrol for instance, Audi marks out the Mercedes-Benz CLS 450 4Matic in AMG Line trim (£57,610) as the closest competitor to the 55 TFSI S Line, in addition to two BMWs – the 640i Gran Turismo (beforehand 5-series GT) with xDrive coming in at £57,570, and the 640i Gran Coupe in related trim however rear-wheel drive, at £64,680.
The Mercedes is quickest, the Audi most frugal, the rear-drive BMW the lightest, and every is as more likely to be chosen on its badge or styling as any goal measure. The Gran Coupe is by a small margin the drivers’ alternative of the group and rides a bit extra fluently than the Audi too – although no automotive on this group stands head and shoulders above the others general.