Audi A7 Sportback Review
An accomplished coupé-like executive cruiser, the A7 Sportback is a well-executed blend of luxury and performance
Strengths & weaknesses
- Elegant yet muscular
- Well equipped
- Good performance
- Pricey options
- Not the most engaging car to drive
- Ride could be smoother
The Audi A7 Sportback combines performance and space with a sense of panache for style-conscious luxury car buyers.
Its swept-back windscreen, curved roof and full-width rear LED lights ensure that the A7 cuts a dash. At the same time, it’s a car that can still seat four people in comfort and carry enough bags to stock the designer luggage department at Harrods.
Known as a four-door coupe, the Audi A7 is less of a compromise than a two-door coupe. Its rear doors enable passengers to get in without having to perform a spot of impromptu yoga and allow parents can justify it on practical grounds.
Despite a high list price, starting at around £55,000, discounts of more than £8,000 are common, while the used examples of the previous-generation Audi A7 are a fraction of the cost.
The A7 Sportback is roughly the same size as an Audi A6, but more luxurious, giving the driver the sense of commanding the Starship Enterprise. You’re surrounded by touchscreens, digital displays and a stubby gear lever that looks like it could launch you into hyperspace mode.
A 12.3in screen replaces the dials in front of the driver. The so-called Virtual Cockpit displays information, including a large map and directions, right in the driver’s eyeline for extra safety.
There are another two screens in the centre of the dashboard (stacked vertically) for sat-nav, music, phone and climate control. Everything is wrapped in ice-cool aluminium-effect trim and leather and there are lighting gimmicks galore: detailed mood lighting configurations inside, plus a short light show from the LED strip at the back when you lock and unlock top-specification models.
It would be the perfect place for a gadget-lover to spend time behind the wheel, if it wasn’t rivalled by the Mercedes CLS, another four-door coupe, which offers a huge widescreen display across the dashboard.
More prosaically, two child seats will fit easily in the back, or two adults can sit comfortably, even if the curved roof means that headroom is that bit more snug than a saloon. The raised middle seat is less cosseting, so it’s not ideal if you regularly carry five passengers - the more spacious BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe is a better bet.
The Audi A7’s 535-litre boot will easily carry a holiday’s worth of luggage; it’s larger and more practical than the Mercedes’, thanks to the large hatchback bootlid.
It’ll also take you to the Mediterranean sun effortlessly. Fill it with people, luggage and a coffee or two; set Apple CarPlay (or Android Auto) to shuffle and you could happily drive to the Côte d’Azur in a day.
It’s quiet, performance is ample, the seats are first class affairs that keep aches and pains at bay and the ride comfort is fairly smooth. Some bumps and potholes do cause a slight juddering, though - even with the optional air suspension.
Diesel-powered models return around 36mpg in real-world driving and have relatively low CO2 emissions (147g/km) for such a large, powerful car. You’ll have to settle for less than 30mpg from petrol cars but even that would have seemed inconceivable a decade ago.
When it comes to enjoying yourself on a winding country road, the A7 doesn’t prove as enjoyable as a BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe or Porsche Panamera. The steering is accurate enough, but never makes you feel involved with the process - you feel as if you’re directing rather than driving.
In that respect, it’s similar to the Mercedes CLS but can’t match that car’s ride quality. Judged objectively, you’re probably better off with the Mercedes. Or you can save thousands of pounds with a more conservative Audi A6, Mercedes E-Class or BMW 5 Series.
But this is a car that sells on style. And if you’ve fallen for its swept-back design, the rest is unlikely to disappoint.
|Three years/60,000 miles
|£515 in the first year, £140 thereafter
Best Audi A7 for...
Best for Economy – Audi A7 Sportback 50 TDI
Despite being powered by a 3.0-litre V6 engine, the diesel variant of the A7 Sportback does return impressive official fuel consumption figures of 48/7 to 50.4mpg, depending on what size wheels are specified.
Best for Performance – Audi A7 Sportback 55 TFSI
The petrol version of the A7 is no slouch, despite its size and weight (1,890kg unladen, but with driver): the 0-62mph benchmark acceleration test takes just 5.3 seconds.
October 2017: A7 Sportback debuted via satellite broadcast and internet livestream.
April 2018: first UK models arrive.
Understanding Audi A7 names
Trim level Sport
There are two levels of equipment specification, Sport and S line. Sport is the ‘basic’ trim level, with S line offering additional equipment (for more money) and an even sportier character.
Engine 50 TDI
Audi offers buyers the choice of one petrol (badged 55 TFSI) and one diesel (50 TDI) engine option.
Both petrol and diesel versions are mated to automatic gearboxes, but the petrol car has a seven-speed S tronic (dual-clutch) while the diesel has an eight-speed tiptronic (the more traditional style of auto ’box).
Audi A7 Engines
50 TDI, 55 TFSI
Audi is keeping the engine range of the A7 Sportback simple, with just one petrol and one diesel option.
The 50 TDI is a 3.0-litre V6 diesel that produces 286 horsepower (hp), and comes with quattro all-wheel drive and eight-speed tiptronic automatic transmission. As befits a car with a sub-six-second 0-62mph time (5.7 seconds, to be exact), it feels impressively punchy on the road, while it’s also very refined, especially when cruising at high speed on the motorway.
At the same time, however, it also returns decent on-paper fuel economy of 48.7 to 50.4mpg (depending on wheel size) and CO2 emissions aren’t excessive, either, at 147-150g/km. This combination of performance and economy makes for a highly persuasive package.
The same could also be said of the 55 TFSI petrol variant, too, with its 3.0-litre V6 powerplant pumping out 340hp, which enables a 5.3-second 0-62mph time. The quattro all-wheel-drive system is also fitted to this version, alongside a seven-speed S tronic automatic gearbox. The performance premium over the diesel does inevitably result in higher running costs, with 39.2 to 40.4mpg the official fuel consumption figures (although these are likely to be considerably lower in real-world driving – especially for drivers who like to provoke that V6 engine into a raucous state).
Audi A7 Trims
Sport, S line
The A7 is one of Audi’s more luxurious models, so there is an extensive list of standard equipment on all models, with only slight differences between the two trim lines, Sport and S line.
Sport models feature – take a deep breath… - 19-inch alloy wheels, LED front and rear lights, leather seats (the two front seats being heated and electrically adjustable), two-zone climate control, LED ambient interior lighting, a powered tailgate, an MMI infotainment system with twin touchscreens (10.1-inch above and 8.6-inch below), 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit information display, Audi Connect connectivity package (including emergency call function in case of a collision), voice control with voice recognition function, DAB, Bluetooth, smartphone wireless charging, Drive Select driving modes, rear-view camera and parking assist, plus the now-expected safety features (such as lane departure warning).
Counterintuitively, the S line trim (an additional £2,900 over the cost of Sport cars) is designed to be even sportier than the Sport, so it has 20-inch alloys, sport suspension, Matric LED lights, additional exterior styling features, leather and Alcantara-upholstered sports seats, and stainless steel pedals.
Despite the high specification of both models, buyers could seriously indulge themselves with further optional extras. How about all-wheel steering (£1,900), air suspension (£2,000), a full-length sunroof (£1,600), four-zone climate control (£800) or a Bang & Olufsen sound system (£6,000)?
In addition, there are also packs of extra equipment, such as the Tour Pack (to support long-distance drivers) for £1,950, or a City Assist Pack for £1,375.
Audi A7 Reliability and warranty
Because this second generation A7 Sportback is so new on the market, and sells in comparatively exclusive volumes, it doesn’t feature in the Auto Express 2018 Driver Power survey.
Audi only appears in 18th place in the survey’s list of most reliable manufacturers, but given that any A7 Sportback is likely to be brand new or nearly-new, it will be covered by at least a comprehensive warranty.
That warranty is relatively standard for the premium manufacturers, with faults covered for three years or up to 60,000 miles.
Used Audi A7
On sale for only a matter of months, this latest Audi A7 Sportback is too new to offer any used car bargains, although there are already nearly-new cars available.
These don’t offer enormous savings over new cars - mainly because new car discounts already offer savings of more than £8,000 - but are available for immediate delivery.
As more models become available, you can expect prices to fall considerably. It has already happened with the previous-generation Audi A7 Sportback, which is now excellent value for money. You’ll pay from around £20,000 for 2014 and some 2015 cars.
As usual with Audis, there are plenty of expensive optional extras available, which make it complicated to work out the value of each car. You should request the detailed specification of any car you’re interested in, to see exactly what’s been fitted to it.