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Audi A7 Sportback 3.0 TFSI review
Model: Audi A7 Sportback 3.0 TFSI
Bodystyle: five-door hatchback
Engine: 3.0 V6 supercharged petrol
Transmission: seven-speed auto
GALLERY: Audi A7
What is it?
Audi seems to have a car in its range for every niche market and the A7 is the latest model to plug a gap you never knew existed.
Sitting above the A6 but below the A8, the Sportback is a sportier take on both and promises the practicality of a family car combined with the design flair of a coupé.
Where does it fit?
The premium coupé-hatchback market is a popular one thanks to the success of the Mercedes CLS, which took the notion of the luxury family car and made it into something very desirable.
Then came the BMW 5 Series GT, though its bulky proportions failed to hit the spot. Porsche, too, has entered the market with the Panamera, while Aston Martin has the Rapide to cater for the mega wealthy, and Volkswagen the beautiful Passat CC for mere mortals.
The A7, starting at £43,755, is probably the best looking of the lot, combining an interior as solid and smooth as granite with a front nose that almost resembles the R8 supercar's. Side-on it looks muscular and squat. The pinched rear is the only let-down on the style front.
Is it for you?
The A7 will seat five, has a huge boot with seats that fold flat, the customary range of big petrol and diesel engines and all the refinements you expect of a £40k+ Audi.
However, if you're expecting a sportscar you will be disappointed. If you just just want a smooth GT car that looks sensational and has room for the family, the A7 is perfect.
What does it do so well?
We tried the 3.0-litre V6 TFSI petrol engine, which has 300hp and 324 lb/ft of torque and is helped along by a small supercharger.
Unsurprisingly, it is very punchy and reactive, sprinting to 62mph in 5.6 seconds and making this the fastest A7 you can buy at the moment. The performance is smooth all the way to the red line.
Quattro four-wheel drive means that even on icy and snowy roads, the A7 is sure-footed. It inspires confidence in winter weather, especially when you drive past a stranded rear-driven BMW.
What doesn't it do well?
The A7's steering is light and doesn't provide enough feedback to call it a sportscar. It's set-up for long, high-speed motorway cruises and at this it excels.
At 75mph in top gear the engine is ticking over below 2,000rpm making it as silent inside as Westminster Cathedral. An 'acoustic' windscreen, which directs sound away from the cockpit, means road and wind noise is subdued at speed.
The double-clutch seven-speed gearbox, standard on all the Quattro models, might seem like one gear too many, but the changes are supersonically quick.
What's it like to live with?
Even with large 19-inch alloys and four-wheel drive, the A7 rides comfortably thanks to the adaptive air suspension which monitors the road conditions and tunes the dampers to offer the best support possible.
But the interior is what sets this car apart from its rivals. The 'Audi Interior' is becoming a cliché these days but for good reason because only Rolls-Royce and Bentley can beat it for refinement.
The cabin is modern but not crude, the choice of materials more Waitrose than Tesco's, the buttons and switches solid and with a precision to their action. You can tell this is a well-thought-out cabin and is shared with the forthcoming A6.
The 'MMI' system that controls the stereo, sat-nav and temperature controls is displayed on a 6.5-inch monitor that rises out of the dash. A larger, touch screen version is available as an option.
Another option is a GPRS receiver, which can access Google and deliver news and weather reports as well as allow you to plot a route at home and send it to your car. You can also order wireless connectivity so you can access the internet on your laptop or phone.
How green is it?
The 3.0 V6 is never going to be a planet-saver, but thanks to stop-start tech, brake-energy recuperation and a light body made of aluminium and steel, the A7 should average 34.4mpg with this engine and puff out 190g/km.
Would we buy it?
The A7 has moved the game on in this sector. It is great to drive, fantastic to look at and magnificent to travel in. There's a new Mercedes CLS due soon, but it will have to be significantly improved to better the Audi A7.
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