Audi A7 Hatchback (2011 - ) review
Read the Audi A7 Sportback hatchback (2010 - ) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.
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Pictures can’t quite convey the dramatic lines of the Audi A7 Sportback – it really is a unique car. While the larger A8 saloon is quite restrained, the A7 has been lavished with details that will demand your attention long after you’ve bought it. The rear is particularly interesting, with a sharply sloping rear window and distinctive lighting. Opt for the larger 20-inch wheels – or the S line version – and the A7 commands as much attention as anything else on the road.
Surprisingly, the A7 doesn’t just adopt the interior of its big brother. Aspects of the A8’s classy cabin are evident, but the A7’s cockpit is distinctly sportier. The materials used for all surfaces are top rate, and some of the wood and leather finishes are nothing short of gorgeous to look at and touch. Despite the presence of a vast amount of information, the instruments and read-outs are clear and intuitive to use. It will take an owner a while to learn where everything is, but that’s all part of the appeal. Opt for the range-topping S7 and you will be treated to some fabulous sports seats. Not only are they both comfortable and supportive, but their diamond quilted pattern gives the interior a bespoke ambience.
There’s plenty of legroom for four adults, and although rear headroom isn’t as generous as it is in the BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo, it’s more generous than that in a 6 Series Gran Coupe. The driver is well looked after with a wide range of adjustment on the steering wheel and seat. Audi quotes 535 litres of luggage space with the seats in place which fold down easily to free up even more room. The boot is a fraction shallow, but the hatchback bootlid makes it easier to load up than most of its rivals.
Ride and handling
Be careful about which versionyou pick, as it’s easy to transform the A7 from a comfortable luxury car into one that rides with a much harder edge. The larger wheels and Sports suspension that M Sport models get has a big effect on the car’s ride comfort. Wider tyres add to road noise, too. The A7’s steering is quite light, but it turns the nose of the car in quickly and it feels surprisingly agile given its size. The Quattro four-wheel drive system that is fitted to most models gives reassuring grip in all conditions, particularly in the S7, where it is combined with torque-vectoring to maximise cornering stability and velocity. A sports oriented version of Audi’s Drive Select is also fitted as standard, which has tangible effects on the air suspension ride quality.
There are essentially three engine options in the A7. Our recommendation, the 3.0-litre TDI turbodiesel, comes in two power outputs (201bhp or 242bhp) and with different automatic gearboxes depending on whether or not you opt for Quattro four-wheel drive. Petrol power comes from either 2.8-litre or turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 engines, with 201bhp and 296bhp respectively. The more expensive of the TDI engines has more pulling power even than the turbocharged petrol option and it’s well matched to the S tronic gearbox. The S7 performance flagship gets a new 4.0-litre turbocharged V8 engine, which endows it with near supercar levels of power. With 414bhp on tap, the motor will get this big car from 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds, and it will accelerate strongly all the way up until the car’s electronic speed governor calls time at 155mph.
The most frugal A7, the front-wheel drive 3.0-litre TDI model, returns an impressive 53.3mpg average. Company car drivers will be drawn to the low CO2 emissions of this version, too, with a figure of 139g/km. None of BMW’s 5 Series Gran Turismo models can match that. In mixed driving, we managed nearly 40mpg in the Quattro-equipped 3.0-litre TDI version. That compares well with the quoted 47.1mpg figure. Thanks to it’s largely aluminium structure and new cylinder-on-demand technology (where half of the cylinders are shut down during light use), the S7 manages to return a combined 29.4mpg while emitting a respectable 225g/km of CO2. As with all premium cars, be prepared for premium-priced servicing and insurance.
While the A7 is unproven as yet, Audi has an enviable reputation for reliability so buyers should have no worries. The engines, transmissions and electronics have all been proven in other cars. The perceived quality of the A7 is very high.
Cars as big and expensive as the Audi A7 rarely get subjected to the Euro NCAP crash tests. However, a good measure is the Audi A6 model, first introduced in 2004. That car achieved a full five stars for adult occupant protection so you can be sure the A7 matches that. As standard the A7 comes with all the airbags and electronic safety devices you’d expect, though there are several more advanced features on the options list, including active lane assist and pre-sense, which reduces the severity of an imminent collision.
SE models come with a lot of equipment including 18-inch alloys, Audi drive select, an impressive infotainment system including sat-nav, Bluetooth and MP3/iPod connectivity, cruise control, automatic lights and wipers, electrically adjustable and heated leather seats, climate control, parking sensors and Xenon Plus headlights with LED daytime running lights. The sporty S line grade adds 19-inch wheels, sports suspension, sports front seats and various styling tweaks. Both models are well equipped as standard, though you will be tempted by the options list and the purchase price is quite high. The S7 comes equipped with Active Noise Cancellation. Using four integrated microphones, the system listens to ambient cabin noise and can emit an anti-phase sound to eliminate unwanted noise. Audi claims the system reduces cabin noise by up to 75%.
The Audi A7 is for luxury car buyers that want to stand out from the crowd. It’s the A8’s sportier alter ego and is not for the shy and retiring types.