The A7 is unusual. It comes with the sort of options you’d expect on a luxurious car such as the A8 or an S-Class, but offers no extended wheelbase variant for those customers who are to be chauffeured. So is it just a very nice family saloon? Well, it definitely could be, but Audi didn’t quite have messy children in mind when they designed this car.
Not only are the A7’s customers difficult to determine, but so too are its competitors. The only real rival is the Mercedes CLS, with an equally vague clientele. Some might consider the BMW 3GT & 5GT substitutes, though the 3-Series is too small to compare and the appearance of both are quite repulsive in comparison to the Audi and Mercedes. The 6-Series Gran-Coupé could be a closer match, but with it costing £20,000 more than the A7, its market is slightly different.
The appearance of the A7 will be what sells the car to most people. It certainly is striking. The car will appeal to those who are looking for the sporty looks of a coupé and still require the convenience of a car that has 4 or 5 (your choice) easily accessible seats. The Mercedes CLS is good-looking in equal measure, but doesn’t have quite the same sporty appearance. Taste is the only factor which really separates the two cars from the outside and I’m inclined to go for the A7. It pulls off the coupé look far more than the CLS (even if the CLS’s looks shout louder than the A7’s), and the retracting rear spoiler – though really just a gimmick – is irresistible.
What is surprising about the A7 from the outside is its size. Although based on the A6, the A7’s sporty looks make it seem slightly longer and considerably wider than the A6 – which is no bad thing.
The flashy Audi interior design, first introduced on the A8, works very well on the A7 and, arguably, suits this car more than the flagship luxury piece. The folding sat-nav screen is present; as are optional Bang & Olufsen speakers (at £6,300!) which retract into the dashboard when not in use. I’m not the biggest fan of the retracting screen as it can look like an afterthought when in use, but it does allow for a nicer layout of controls on the dashboard.
The A7 is also one of the most technologically advanced cars available. I can’t list all its features, but notably, as an option (of course) the car can be equipped with full internet capability. This allows the navigation system to download satellite imagery for the car’s maps from Google as well as allowing the vehicle to source phone numbers and locations of nearby attractions if you want to, for example, book a table at a restaurant. Finally, the whole car turns into a WiFi hotspot for your tablets and other mobile devices to gain access to the internet. I’m sure that we’ll start to see features like this on most new cars in the future.
The specifications for the relatively mid-range A7 Sportback 3.0 TDI quattro SE:
Power/Torque: 201bhp 295lb/ft
Max. Speed: 146mph
Acceleration: 0-62mph in 7.2 seconds
CO2 emissions: 152g/km
Fuel economy: 48.7mpg
Insurance group: 33
VED Band: G (£170)
The main thing that stands out above is the fuel economy – it’s very good for such a large car. I was also surprised by the insurance group in that it was lower than I expected. The price seems reasonable, especially when you consider, for a German car, all A7s come with leather, sat-nav, 2-zone climate control, powered boot lid and a host of other features which, on many similar cars, are very expensive options.
Obviously, the above figures don’t reflect the A7 as the fastest car in the world, but Audi have a solution. The S7 is much faster (and much more expensive at £63,000) than the A7, travelling to 62mph in under 4 seconds – faster than the M6 Gran Coupé. At the same time, it manages to remain relatively efficient through a clever technology that will only use 4 of the 8 cylinders in the engine when little power is required. The S7 is no less refined either, and uses the technology found in noise cancelling headphones to reduce engine noise in the cabin if the engine note is deemed intrusive.
As a driver’s car, the A7 is far superior to the A8 and, in 4-seat configuration, almost as pleasant to be driven in. If at all possible, sell the family silver and remortgage the house to buy the S7. It looks even better and nobody could resist the diamond-stitched leather interior. Also, keep an eye on the RS7, which will either be an even bigger improvement than the S7, or a step too far.
The A7 receives a noteworthy 4.5 stars from me.