Audi A7 Sportback review - Is Audi's four-door coupe the one to have?

Remains a highly desirable car, but ride and driving dynamics could be better

Evo rating
Price
from £54,940
  • Exterior styling, interior design, refinement, technology
  • Poor ride on air suspension, so-so dynamics

Audi might not have invented the concept of the 'four-door coupe', but with the first generation A7 Sportback it certainly ran with it, turning out a dramatic fastback shape that managed to take Audi’s otherwise restrained and often samey styling and give it a new personality.

Time and the proliferation of similarly sleek models from rivals has dulled that original car’s visual impact, and gentle evolutions like the latest A7 Sportback will never delight like their predecessors, but the new car brings with it updated technology, subtle styling revisions and the promise of better performance and economy.

> Audi RS5 review

In terms of exterior and interior styling Audi has largely hit its mark, but what the latest A7 fails to bring to the table is a suitable ride and handling compromise. Put simply, it’s neither comfortable enough to effectively serve as a luxury car, nor entertaining enough to hit the spot as a driver’s car – hobbled by a jittery and unsettled ride, and a combination of numb steering and slovenly responses.

Those pounding up and down the motorway are less likely to discover these shortcomings, and for them the excellent cabin quality and design, hushed engines, absence of wind noise and strong performance will all be enough to justify the purchase – but Audi can, and should, do better for one of its most desirable models.

Audi A7 Sportback in detail

Performance and 0-60mph time - The 55 TFSI petrol is the quicker of the pair, out-sprinting the 50 TDI diesel by four-tenths to 62mph. Both hit a limited 155mph and both are smooth and refined, though fuel costs aside we prefer the petrol’s delivery.

Engine and gearbox - Choice of petrol or diesel V6s, the diesel using permanent all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic, the petrol with on-demand all-wheel drive and a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Both feature 48V mild hybrid tech.

Ride and handling - Neither as comfortable nor as entertaining as we’d like from a car like this. Very refined indeed on smooth roads, but less so on poor UK surfaces. Neither air suspension nor all-wheel steering seem worth the money.

MPG and running costs - Diesel models are competitive with rivals in terms of economy, while the petrol 55 TFSI should use a little less fuel than its closest petrol competition.

Interior and tech - Cabin design, quality and technology to lead the class, if a little anodyne for some. The touchscreens aren’t perfect, but probably the best of their type.

Design - Familiarity with A7s has dulled their visual impact, so the new model doesn’t seem as sharp as it once might, but fans of the model should find plenty to like.

Prices, specs and rivals

The bottom line for A7 Sportback pricing is £54,940; that gets you the 50 TDI quattro in Sport trim. Spending £55,140 steps you up to the 55 TFSI in the same Sport trim, while S line models begin at £57,840 for the diesel and £58,040 for the petrol.

Sport specification nets LED headlights and tail lights, 19-inch five-spoke alloy wheels, Audi Drive Select, heated and folding door mirrors, Pre-sense safety tech and lane departure warning and cruise control as standard. S line goes further with Matrix LED headlights, unique LED daytime running lights, 20-inch alloy wheels, sports suspension (which cuts 10mm from the ride height), an S line styling package and S line interior trim changes.

To this you can add features like adaptive conventional suspension (£1125) or air suspension (£2000), four-wheel steering (£1900), and a sport differential (£1500). The cost can quickly mount up, though as we’ve stated in the ride and handling section you can probably hold on to the extra cash required for the four-wheel steering and air suspension, since neither significantly improves the driving experience.

The A7 Sportback’s closest rivals are the Mercedes-Benz CLS and BMW 6-series Gran Coupe. The former is newest to the market while the latter is about to be replaced by the 8-series, so if you’re seriously struggling over your decision it might be worth waiting for BMW to show its hand before you opt for the others.

As a driver’s car the Mercedes shades the Audi, both riding better and handling with more aplomb, while its new inline-six engines are smoother than the Audi’s V6s. The Audi fights back with a great cabin, but for the time being the CLS gets our nod as the best large and luxurious four-door coupe.

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