Audi A7 Sportback (2018 - ) review
The A7 Sportback is a large, four-door hatchback based on the similarly-sized A8 limousine. It rivals cars like the Mercedes-Benz CLS and BMW’s 6 Series Gran Coupe.
Interested in buying an Audi A7?
How good does it look?
Looks are always subjective, but Audi has pushed its traditionally-conservative boat out a bit for the latest A7 Sportback, with some sharp lines and interesting details, most notably the wide rear light cluster, which plays some funky animations when you turn the car on. Two trims are available. The standard Sport model rides on 19-inch alloy wheels and has full LED headlights, while the S Line has 20-inch wheels and very clever Matrix headlights that will maintain full beam while tracking oncoming cars in shadow so as not to dazzle them. The S Line also has sportier suspension, which means it sits 10mm lower than the Sport. Solid black or white paint is standard, with other colours available as paid-for options.
What's the interior like?
The fact is that most Audi models set the benchmark in their respective classes for interior quality, and the A7 is no different. The materials and build quality are superb, and the design is slightly jazzier than we’ve seen from Audi in the past. Technology dominates, with two central touch-screens to control most of the systems from sat-nav and audio on the top screen to seat controls and air-conditioning on the bottom one. It looks great, but we’ve found it slightly confusing to use. However, that will no doubt improve once you’ve spent more time with it. You also get a virtual dashboard in place of traditional analogue dials, and depending on spec, a jet fighter-style head-up display that projects information onto the windscreen. Very cool.
How practical is it?
The A7 is a big car and as such there’s plenty of room inside for four adults, with ample headroom in the back despite the sloping, coupe-style roof. The boot is also a big size – 525 litres with the rear seats up, or 1390 with them down – and Audi says it’ll hold two full golf bags. If you don’t play golf, you should be able to get a full holiday’s worth of luggage in, and the hatchback boot lid makes access much easier to access than in a traditional saloon. Inside, there’s a glovebox, two cupholders next to the gearstick and door pockets big enough for a sports bottle (or lots of empty chocolate wrappers). There’s also a small storage space under the central armrest.
What's it like to drive?
There are four suspension set-ups available, depending on which version of the A7 you go for. We’ve tried the top-end, optional air suspension set up, which you can configure in either Comfort or Dynamic mode. Based on our short time with the car, it’s a bit disappointing, transmitting far more information into the car than you need or, probably, expect. It’s not uncomfortable, but it’s not as wafty as we’d hope for from this type of car. The handling is more than capable, with commendable control over body roll through the corners and extra cornering ability thanks to a rear-wheel steering system that works in tandem with the front axle. However, the steering feel through the wheel lacks the directness to make it a genuinely engaging drive, even in Dynamic mode. Overall, it’s not smooth enough for ultimate luxury, or direct enough to be a proper driver’s car.
How powerful is it?
There are two engines available at launch, both V6s, one petrol and one diesel. Both are excellent. The petrol is the fizzier option, with a 0-62mph time of 5.3 seconds, which is dispatched with minimal drama thanks to all-wheel drive on every model. The diesel version is a fraction slower to 62mph, but is still brisk, and benefits from plenty of low-down torque, meaning it seems more effortless when you press the accelerator. More engines will follow in time, bringing improved fuel economy and reduced CO2 emissions. Both engines come with automatic gearboxes that are super smooth and quick to respond.
How much will it cost me?
The purchase price of the A7 Sportback is broadly in line with the Mercedes-Benz CLS, although industry predictions suspect the Mercedes will hold its value slightly better, and it’s likely to be cheaper than the Audi to service and maintain. However, strong fuel economy in the A7 will save a considerable about of money over the years and miles, and in the end there’s not a huge amount between the two when it comes to overall costs.
How reliable is it?
As the latest A7 Sportback is all new, there’s no historical data on how it’ll perform. Audi as a brand overall doesn’t have a brilliant reputation when it comes to reliability, sitting towards the bottom of Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index, which ranks manufacturers by past performance. It’s a similar story in JD Power’s 2017 Vehicle Dependability Study, which listed Audi last but one of all manufacturers analysed. Here’s hoping the A7 Sportback can start turning that around.
How safe is it?
Audis have an excellent reputation for safety, and we expect the A7 Sportback to uphold that and more. It’s yet to be crash tested by safety organisation Euro NCAP, but we’ll be staggered if it doesn’t score the maximum five stars, thanks to loads of state-of-the-art technological features as standard, including automatic emergency braking, which will intervene if you don’t react to an impending accident. A lane departure warning system is also standard on all models, as are side, front and rear airbags and two Isofix child seat mounting points in the back.
How much equipment do I get?
Even the entry-level Sport model A7 Sportback is a high-end, luxurious car, and as such it comes with a good amount of equipment as standard. The electric seats are clad in leather and heated in the front, while two-zone climate control air-conditioning keeps things cool (or hot). An LED pack provides some funky interior ambient lighting, the colours of which are customisable, and the boot is electrically operated. Under the centre armrest is a wireless phone charging plate, and a six-speaker sound system with Apple Car Play, Android Auto and DAB is standard. Upgrade to the S Line for a few special embossed logos and black headlining, but most of the extra money goes on the special headlights and upgraded suspension. Options are plentiful, and include a high-end stereo and more suspension upgrades, as well as 21-inch alloy wheels, a larger fuel tank and a panoramic sunroof.
We’d like to drive more versions of the A7 Sportback – on standard suspension – before giving our definitive verdict, as we have some reservations about its ride quality. Having said that, it’ll still appeal to customers looking for a sharp, thoroughly modern luxury car with a wonderful interior, great performance and some cutting-edge technology. The new Mercedes CLS will have to be pretty darn good to compete.