The A7’s is comfortable and surprisingly manoeuvrable around town, but alternatives are more engaging to drive
You can get the Audi A7 with one petrol and one diesel engine. Both come with smooth automatic gearboxes and four-wheel drive, along with a mild hybrid system to help reduce CO2 emissions and boost fuel economy.
The 340hp 3.0-litre V6 in 55 petrol models is best suited to shorter trips and regular city driving. It’s slightly quieter at slow speeds than the 286hp diesel 50 model and its twin-clutch automatic gearbox responds a little faster than the diesel’s conventional automatic when you accelerate hard. Audi claims it’ll return 40.4mpg, but you can expect it to manage approximately 35mpg in real-world conditions.
The 55 petrol is also slightly quicker than the diesel – it’ll accelerate from 0-62mph in 5.3 seconds compared to the 50 model’s 5.7-second time. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have quite the same instant grunt from low revs to help with overtaking slow-moving traffic.
Unfortunately, the A7 doesn’t quite live up to its Sportback name. Then again, Quietback doesn’t have a particularly good ring to it, does it?
As a result, the diesel’s a much better choice if you do lots of motorway miles. It’s slightly quieter at cruising speeds than the petrol and more frugal, too – you’ll manage around 45mpg in real-world conditions compared with Audi’s claimed 50.4mpg.
Both cars come with mild hybrid systems that use a small electric motor to give the engine a helping hand when you accelerate. The system can also shut the engine off completely when you’re coasting to a stop and use energy from braking to recharge its batteries. It might sound complicated, but you’ll barely notice the system in action.
You might think a large, low-slung car like the Audi A7 Sportback would be tricky to drive – but not so. You get a surprisingly good view out thanks to the thin pillars beside the windscreen and it’s impressively manoeuvrable for such a large car.
This is thanks, in part, to its light steering and clever four-wheel steering system. The latter turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction to those in the front at low speeds to help you make tight U-turns in surprisingly narrow spaces. Sure, it’s no black cab, but it’s much easier to thread through congested city streets than a 6 Series GT.
Unfortunately, it’s not all good news. Its sloping roofline means rear visibility is quite restricted, but at least you get rear parking sensors as standard. For even greater peace of mind you can get the Audi A7 Sportback with Audi’s optional Park Pilot system, which uses a variety of cameras and sensors to steer you into all sorts of parking spaces automatically.
Another upgrade you should consider is the optional adaptive air suspension. This helps separate your backside from bumps in the road with a cushion of compressed air. It’s a significant improvement over the slightly bumpier standard suspension, or firm sports suspension you get as standard in S line models.
Don’t think Audi has sacrificed comfort to make the A7 sporty to drive. Sure, it doesn’t lean much in tight corners and its standard four-wheel-drive system delivers plenty of reassuring grip on slippery surfaces, but its light steering doesn’t inspire much confidence on a twisty back road.
Don’t let this put you off, however – after all, is most A7s will spend the majority of their life on the motorway. It’s here where features like the standard-fit double-glazed windows really come into their own, too. These help quieten down unpleasant wind noise and make the Audi easy to drive for long periods.
It’s especially relaxing if you pick the optional Driver Assistance Tour Pack. This comes with adaptive cruise control that matches your speed to other cars and a system that steers for you on well-marked roads – providing you keep your hands on the wheel.
The Audi A7 Sportback hasn’t been crash-tested by Euro NCAP yet, but features such as these should help make sure it earns a high score.