Audi A7 Sportback interior
The A7’s stunning cabin looks like it belongs in a concept car, not a practical five-seat coupe. Sadly, its futuristic infotainment system could do with a few tweaks to make it easier to use
The Audi A7’s high-tech interior doesn’t try to feel overly sporty like the BMW 6 Series GT’s cabin, nor does it come with lavish fiddly details like a Mercedes CLS. Instead, you get masses of glossy black plastics, cold-to-the-touch brushed aluminium trims and plush leather and suede-like Alcantara on the seats, dashboard and doors.
Even more eye-catching than this, however, are the A7’s three high-resolution infotainment screens. The first – Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital display that replaces analogue dials – sits behind the steering wheel, while the other two are nestled neatly in the centre console. A glossy finish means they blend in with the Audi’s black dashboard much more convincingly than the Mercedes CLS’ bulky free-standing screens.
Overall build quality is excellent, even in entry-level Sport models. Nothing creaks or flexes and (besides the speaker grilles tucked way down near the footwells) you’ll struggle to find any surface that feels even remotely brittle.
Sport models also come with customisable LED mood lighting that’ll let you bathe the doors and footwells, and highlight the dashboard, in an almost infinite combination of lurid colours – should you ever wish to.
Pick an S line version and you’ll be treated to a sportier steering wheel with perforated leather trim and some fancy metal paddles for changing gear. The standard car’s grey roof lining gets a darker black finish and some extra metal trims appear on the door sills, pedals and dashboard.
Press the engine start button and the A7’s three huge screens blink into action like something from a modern-day Jetsons’ comic
The Audi A7 comes with one of the most high-tech infotainment systems of any car on sale. Its three screens vary from 8.6 inches to a whopping 12.3 inches across and look far more futuristic than anything you’ll find in the Mercedes CLS or BMW 6 Series GT.
The 10.1-inch display on the dashboard sits in a brushed aluminium frame that’s designed to mimic the Audi A7’s front grille, while a second 8.6-inch display below replaces the old car’s physical heating and ventilation controls.
Both screens are crisp and reasonably easy to read, but you’ll need more than just a quick glance to choose between their mostly monochrome icons as you drive along. You don’t get any physical shortcut buttons to help you switch between the system’s main functions either – but then it’s the same story in both the BMW and Mercedes.
What the Audi does give you is some feedback that makes pressing the screen feel just like clicking a mouse or unlocking a smartphone. It works reasonably well, but it’s still not as convincing as old-fashioned buttons and you do have to give the screen quite a hard prod before it’ll accept your inputs. It can be slightly slow to respond if you tap rapidly to quickly change the temperature or heated seat settings, too.
Combine this with the rather small touch-sensitive shortcut buttons beside the larger central screen and the Audi’s infotainment system doesn’t feel quite as intuitive to use as BMW’s simpler iDrive.
Thankfully, the standard-fit Virtual Cockpit display helps make up for the other screens’ shortcomings. It looks fantastic and it’s dead easy to switch between screens showing a pair of large dials, detailed media playback information or a widescreen sat-nav display using easy-to-reach buttons on the steering wheel.
Speaking of sat-nav, the A7 comes with a handwriting-recognition feature that lets you write in an address letter by letter directly onto the touchscreen. It’s a neat gimmick to impress your friends with, but you’ll probably end up using the much faster on-screen keyboard instead.
If you don’t like Audi’s own sat-nav, you can always mirror your favourite smartphone navigation apps using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. These features come as standard across the A7 range and also let you play music from streaming services such as Spotify through the Audi’s stereo. There’s also a neat wireless charging pad and Audi’s Phone Box feature that uses the car’s built-in aerial to boost your phone’s reception.
The A7’s standard 10-speaker stereo is perfectly punchy, but die-hard music fans will want to upgrade to one of two beefier B&O units instead. These come with either 16 or 19 speakers (depending on which option you choose) which help add a healthy dose of extra volume and bass.