Audi A7 Sportback car review
- We like...Looks; build quality; efficient engines
- We don't...Just four seats
With its new A7 about to reach market Audi has (at time of writing) 35 models in its UK line-up, a bigger choice than anyone else delivers. Go back 10 years and it offered fewer than half that many.
To double up like this, it has had to spot demand for new types of car and then design and build them. Here – no prizes for guessing – its latest slots between two long-runners in its range, the A6 executive saloon and the A8 luxury saloon.
So, what is it? Something Audi calls a ‘sportback’ which is brand-speak for a hatchback. Mind, though, Audi will be quick to mention its coupe-like body profile, if only to explain why this car includes space for only four occupants, not five. It’s handsome but unmistakably an Audi, resembling the A5 Sportback introduced a year back. But the proportions are even better here: it’s impressive on the road and looks terrific in your rear-view mirror as it comes up on you.
Inside it feels cosier around the driver than a regular saloon might. That said, there’s room enough for four grown-ups to get comfortable. Yes, you read that right. Although at all but 5 metres long it’s a big car, it’s a strict four-seater. While there’s space in the back for a fifth passenger, there’s not a belt for him.
And that big hatch means not only that there’s enough space for their luggage but that you can drop the rear seat backs and free enough space for a bicycle or a load of garden rubbish. It also puts the A7 in a class where only BMW’s 5-series GT directly competes. Everything else that’s as big (and upmarket) has a saloon’s four doors plus boot.
The cabin brings no surprises. It’s the same class act that you see in other Audis and, if you pick the optional built-in sat-nav, the screen emerges from a lidded slot in the dash, just like it does in the A8.
For power you choose between 2.8 or 3.0 multi-cylinder petrol engines producing 201bhp and 295bhp respectively or 3.0 diesels delivering 201bhp and 241bhp. All except the lesser diesel (which is front-wheel drive and has a multitronic gear set-up) run Audi’s Quattro four-wheel drive system and S tronic auto transmission). Audi’s worked hard to reduce fuel consumption and emissions. The 241bhp diesel is capable of 47.1mpg overall and pushes out just 158g/km of CO2.
You pick between SE and S-line trim and both bring all you’d expect to a car of its size and price: leather trims is standard, for instance. Audi, however, dangles a long list of costly extras before buyers and it reckons that they’ll spend an average of £10,000 on them. They include an aircraft style head-up display and the option of using Google Earth images to overlay maps (that's an Audi first). You can also turn the can into a mobile wi-fi point, meaning that passengers can go on-line via their laptops.
To drive it feels just like other Audi saloons. It is notably accomplished in that it rides firmly and will remain flat into and through a quickly taken corner but will also sponge away bumps and changes in road surface without troubling occupants. There’s little wind noise or tyre roar. We tried the 3.0 petrol and the more powerful of the diesels and both ran exceptionally quietly.
But while it’s commendable for Audi to build different models that drive so alike, it also means the A7 feels at times a little bland and characterless.
Where BMWs and Mercedes each have strong driving characteristics – BMWs are engaging, Mercs feel strong and ‘planted’ on the road – this Audi feels aloof, distancing you from the action.
Should you buy one? The make’s research shows that just over half of would-be owners already own an Audi. If that’s you, you’ll delight in the car. If it isn’t, the car’s good looks, peerless cabin quality, refinement and comfort may well win you over.
- Engines3.0 TDI
- 0-60 mph6.3secs
- Insurance groups
Motors.co.uk value verdict: