Audi A7 Hatchback (2014 -) review
Read the Audi A7 Sportback (2014 - ) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.
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The A7 is very obviously a part of the Audi range, and revisions introduced at the start of 2015 make that clearer than ever. The grille and headlights give it much the same face as the A6, and with the foglights integrated into the headlamp units (negating the need for separate lights), the front end has a very clean look. Where the A7 stands out is in having all-LED lights front and rear, as well as ‘dynamic’ rear indicators, with the lights ‘sweeping’ from inside to out, instead of flashing. Alloy wheels are fitted as standard to every model, while the aluminium window trim and gloss black finish on the B-pillars helps the car stand out in any car park. Step up to S line trim, and you get larger alloys, lower sports suspension and an S line bodykit, while Black Edition models replace much of the chrome trim with black items. Beyond that, the high-performance S7 and RS7 models also have their own bespoke look, with touches such as aluminium-effect mirror housings, a platinum grey grille and twin oval tailpipes.
Just as outside, so inside. The A7 is unmistakeably an Audi, but with a subtly sportier look and feel than the company’s mainstream models. Witness the three-spoke sports steering wheel that’s standard across the range, and the frameless windows, while the aluminium inlays on the dash and in the door trims mean it’s as classy as it is sporty: the build quality and materials used are peerless. Best of all, it doesn’t just look good; it’s pretty easy to use and live with, too. The wide range of adjustment on the driver’s seat and steering wheel means that pretty much anyone can get comfortable at the wheel, while the dials and displays are beautifully clear. True, the MMI system is not as instantly intuitive as the iDrive system in BMWs, but once you’ve cracked it, it’s easy enough.
Audi may bill the A7 as hatchback-meets-coupe, but in terms of accommodation, it’s more the former than the latter. Front and rear, there’s enough legroom for four adults, and despite the swooping rear roofline, a couple of adults will have enough headroom in the back, too. However, if you want a genuine family ferry, a regular A6 will do the job better. Boot space is good, with the 535-litre boot larger than what you’ll find in the A7’s most obvious rival, the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe. And, with split folding rear seats standard across the range, it’s also very easy to extend that space, albeit not quite to the estate car-rivalling space Audi would like you to think the A7 has.
Ride and handling
We’ve only had relatively limited experience of the latest A7, but even in that time, we found that the Quattro models feel better to drive than the ultra models – the only two-wheel drive cars in the range. You might think it’s just a case of the four-wheel drive giving you more traction and grip, but there’s more to it than that. Not only do the Quattro models feel more sure-footed, they ride more comfortably, with the movements of the body more tightly controlled. That said, the ultra models aren’t poor, and you’ll be perfectly happy to put up with their shortcomings to get the car’s superb fuel economy. Overall, the car is more GT than sports car, and it feels more at home cruising at high speed on sweeping main roads than blasting down a B-road. The over-light steering means that the A7 isn’t as engaging to drive as its BMW rival, and the 6 Series also feels a little crisper through the bends.
To cut a long story short, there’s no A7 in which you’ll feel short of performance. Even the least powerful – and supposedly economy-focused – ultra model (with a 3.0-litre diesel engine) will get you to 60mph in a shade over seven seconds, and with its peak torque coming at less than 1500rpm, there are no sacrifices to make in terms of driveability. It’s remarkably flexible and strong enough to set the front wheels squirming if you accelerate hard on a greasy surface. In all honesty, unless you need four-wheel drive, there’s no need for a more powerful A7. Indeed, as you step up into the more powerful engines, you’re struck not by how much faster you go, but by how much less work it is to go as fast. The bi-turbo BiTDI engine is seriously fast, and the S7 is faster still. The pace of the RS 7 and RS 7 Performance models, meanwhile, is nothing short of bonkers.
Scan through the A7’s vital statistics and there are some seriously impressive figures in there, not least of which is the 60.1mpg average economy and 122g/km CO2 emissions you get from the 3.0 TDI ultra engine. That’s comfortably better than you get in any BMW or Mercedes rival. What’s more, even the more powerful engines give decent economy: the bi-turbo BiTDI, for example, will get you to 60mph in 5.2 seconds, but still averages more than 45mpg. It’s figures such as that which make the petrol-engined cars – dearer to buy, less economical and liable to lose value more quickly, but not much quicker in the real world – rather less attractive. The A7’s insurance costs look good against its rivals’, and even compared with the A7’s desirable competition, its residual values are impressive, which means whole-life costs are affordable. However, it’s important to note that you do pay quite heavily up front for the A7’s style: the equivalent model in the A6 saloon range costs several thousand pounds less to buy.
Audi may have a reputation for high quality, but that’s not necessarily borne out by the evidence. In fact, the company sits low down in Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index. On the other hand, if you scan through the reviews from owners of the A7 on this website, they report excellent reliability.
The A7 has not been put through a Euro NCAP crash test, but we feel safe in saying that we expect this car to follow other Audis in performing very well. As standard, the A7 comes with six airbags and lots of electronic safety devices, but there are plenty more on the options list. These include rear airbags, the Night vision assistant, and the Pre-sense basic system, which takes precautionary action if the car senses a potential incident.
Aside from the high-performance models, there are three trim levels in the A7 range, and all are well equipped. The most basic – although ‘basic’ is hardly the word – is SE Executive, and this comes with leather upholstery, sat-nav, DAB radio, front and rear parking sensors, and four-zone air-conditioning. Beyond that, the extras on both S line and Black Edition trim levels are mainly style-focused, while the S7 and RS7 have their own unique trims.
The Audi A7 is just the thing for buyers who want an executive car, but want something that little bit different from a conventional saloon – and are prepared to pay a premium for the privilege. Its styling will certainly stand out from the crowd, and as well as looking good in the company car park, there are some very tax-friendly engines on offer.