Performance and 0-60mph time
It’s a healthy line-up for the A7, because even the front-wheel drive 'Ultra' 3.0 TDI model can do 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds before running out of steam at a respectable 149mph. Adding the extra torque and four-wheel drive traction of the 215bhp quattro doesn’t improve top speed but does shave the 0-62mph time to 6.8 seconds.
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The gap between the more powerful 268bhp 3.0 TDI quattro and the BiTDI is pretty small, as the former does 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds while the latter ticks it off in 5.2 seconds. The TFSI sits in between them, at 5.3 seconds for 0-62mph, while all three cars are electronically limited to the German gentleman’s agreement figure of 155mph.
With such muscular performance on offer from the regular A7 range, it is almost unthinkable that there are two quicker Sportbacks – the S7 does 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds while the mental RS 7 can achieve the sprint in a scarcely believable (for this size of car) 3.9 seconds. Both are still pegged at 155mph, although on the RS 7 you can opt to raise that limiter to either 174- or 189mph. Performance models can drop the 0-62mph time to 3.7sec.
To return to the regular range, the 3.0-litre TDI V6 is a lovely unit, creamy and strong no matter what output it’s providing. The TFSI is also a nice engine but it is outmanoeuvred by the torquier, more frugal BiTDI.
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 16g/km and improve combined economy by 7.4mpg next to the regular 3.0 TDI, plus it's the cheapest A7 of all in SE Executive specification at £46,865. But it masks a secret: it is the only two-wheel drive A7, and sadly that power doesn’t go to the rear axle. Yup, the upmarket A7 3.0 TDI ultra is front-wheel drive.