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Audi A7 review - stylish fastback provides A6 alternative
If you’re in the market for something like an Audi A8, BMW 7 Series or Mercedes-Benz S-Class, but you really don’t like three-box saloons, then the Audi A7 Sportback is for you. Its ‘extended coupé’ profile hides a chassis that is neither A6- nor A8-based, although the A7 naturally shares a lot of technology with the two models that sandwich it in the Audi hierarchy. The A7 is a wonderful thing to cruise around in, given its high levels of refinement and typically stunning Ingolstadt interior, but the exterior’s rakish promise is let down by a chassis that is ever so slightly inert. This is especially true of the S7 and RS 7 performance models, which are brutally quick but strangely uninvolving.
Unless you’re absolutely set on saving the planet – by conversely buying a huge executive sports vehicle like the A7 – then avoid the ‘ultra’ model. It’s all very worthy, utilising additional green technologies on the 3.0-litre 215bhp engine to cut emissions by 14g/km and improve combined economy by 4.3mpg, plus it is the cheapest A7 of all in SE Executive specification at £45,915. But it masks a secret: it is the only two-wheel drive A7, and sadly power doesn’t go to the rear axle. Yup, the upmarket A7 3.0 TDI ultra is front-wheel drive.
The S and RS models are worth mentioning here because, if we were marking those cars alone, we’d probably give the A7 three out of five. The reason is that the very use of S/RS badging on an Audi automatically sets dynamic expectations at a certain level; you want the car to give you an entertaining drive that is a cut above normal Ingolstadt fare. Sadly, as we’ve found all too many times, S and RS Audis are hit and miss – some are excellent, some are a bit ‘meh’. And the RS 7 in particular falls into this latter category, its astonishing straight-line performance being the only thing worth recommending it for. On the handling and steering front, it’s all too predictably safe. The S7 is less of a disappointment, because Audi gears the S-cars to be discreet-yet-rapid, which it emphatically is.
But then, so is the standard range. The BiTDI and TFSI cars will be more than quick enough for most people’s needs, they’re both more economical than the S/RS cars, they’re obviously cheaper to buy and the fact that their handling isn’t the sharpest in the world is neither here nor there. For that reason, we prefer the regular A7 range to the performance models.
Performance and 0-60 time > Even outside of the realms of the S7, the A7 is brisk. The fastest model can reach 62mph in 5.2sec and will bounce into its 155mph limiter.
Engine and gearbox > Petrol and diesel drinkers come in V6 layouts and send drive to seven- or eight-speed S Tronic gearboxes.
Ride and handling > Aside from the front-driven ultra, the A7 comes exclusively with quattro four-wheel drive. Avoid Dynamic Steering like the plague.
MPG and running costs > All engines are EU6 compliant and as such produce good numbers: the ultra tops this with a claimed 58.9mpg and 124g/km.
Prices, specs and rivals > Priced to rival the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe and Mercedes CLS, the A7 starts at £45,915.
Interior and tech > The A7 doesn't get Audi's latest TFT displays - first featured in the new TT - but its displays are still better than those of its rivals.
Design > At five metres long, the A7 is a stretch even for an elongated coupe. But post-2014 facelift, it wears an inoffensive yet recognisable body shape that's likely to split opinion.