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Audi A7 Sportback 3.0 TFSI and TDI quattro SE S tronic road test report

3.0 TFSI and TDI quattro SE S tronic

As Audi continues to grow its model range to fill every conceivable market niche, the gap between the A6 and A8 is now bridged by the new A7 Sportback which offers luxury saloon prestige with coupé style, GT performance and hatchback practicality. But is all that too much to ask of one car?

Road Test Reports Says4.5 star rating
A front-facing image of the Audi A7 Sportback

Image number 2 of the Audi A7 SportbackImage number 3 of the Audi A7 SportbackImage number 4 of the Audi A7 Sportback

Performance Performance - 5 stars

Both the 300PS 3.0 TFSI petrol and the 245PS 3.0 TDI diesel are restricted to a 155mph top speed, so neither are slowcoaches. With 500Nm (369lb/ft) of torque, the TDI pulls very strongly from as low as 1,400rpm, but ultimately the TFSI accelerates that bit harder, managing 0-62mph in 5.6secs – 0.7sec quicker than the TDI – a pretty academic advantage on the public road. Both are equipped with fuel-saving stop/start technology and the super-smooth, quick-changing 7-speed S tronic dual-clutch gearbox (with an almost superfluous manual mode), and both can effortlessly dispatch motorway miles at seriously high speeds. Manchester to Munich in a day? Bring it on!

Ride & Handling Ride & Handling - 5 stars

The new A7 is built on the all-new chassis that will underpin the all-new A6 due to arrive in 2011. Both the all-wheel-drive A7s I drove were fitted with Audi’s optional and, at £2,000, not inexpensive adaptive air suspension system with electronically-controlled damping and self-levelling. With three selectable settings, this raises or lowers the ride height automatically according to conditions, controls body roll and even accounts for towing and wheel changing. Although my drives were conducted on mainly well-surfaced Spanish roads, the so-equipped A7’s ride, steering, grip and general handling is hard to fault, but although the TFSI and TDI are apparently the same weight, the TFSI feels a little more nimble and asks less of its tyres in fast corners.

Build Quality & Reliability Build Quality & Reliability - 5 stars

Based on my drives in both models, quality isn’t just hard to fault, but effectively impossible. All the interior leathers, plastics, metals and woods are to an impeccable standard, as are the paint, chrome and alloy finishes of the exterior. Like the new A8 I tested earlier in 2010, the A7 is remarkably quiet and refined, and if you’ll pardon the cliché again, it feels ‘hewn from solid’. In the 2010 JD Power ownership satisfaction study, the A5 and A6 both scored a top three placing in their respective classes, and although Audi as a brand ranked lower than rivals Lexus, Jaguar, Mercedes and BMW, it still managed a comfortably above industry average score.

Safety & Security Safety & Security - 5 stars

It almost goes without saying that the SE spec A7 comes as standard with items like an anti-theft alarm, light and rain sensors, ESP, front and side airbags with curtain airbags, ISOFIX child seat mountings, Xenon and LED lights and a tyre pressure monitoring system, but it also features Audi’s Pre-sense system which helps prevent collisions, or mitigates the consequences. Key safety-related options include a night vision assistant employing a thermal imaging camera to highlight persons in front of the car, the Audi side assist blind spot warning system, the Audi lane assist lane departure detection system and the pre-sense system first seen in the latest A8.

Space & Practicality Space & Practicality - 4 stars

Just as the A5 Sportback is a sleek hatchback version of the A4 saloon, the A7 Sportback is a 4-seat, 5-door hatch version of the next A6 saloon. In terms of interior passenger space, the A7 offers almost the room of the standard wheelbase, top-of-the-range A8, or in other words, there’s loads of space in the front with generous legroom and adequate headroom in the rear. The A7’s boot is also decently proportioned with a 535-litre capacity with all seats in use, extending to 1,390 litres, loaded to the roof with the rear seats folded.

Ownership & Value Ownership & Value - 4 stars

Prices start at £48,000 and £48,070 OTR (inc. 20% VAT) for the quattro 3.0 TDI and TFSI models respectively. However, my test cars weren’t short of four-figure options such as the £2,000 adaptive suspension, adaptive cruise control (£1,800), comfort seats (£1,640), satnav with phone prep and online services, inc. Google Earth plus internet and wi-fi hotspot capability (£1,575), night vision (£2,100), 600 watt Bose surround sound (£1,000) and more which raised their prices to close on £65,000. Throw in the £1,450 head-up display or a £6,300 B&O audio system and the sky’s the limit… At these heady levels simple matters like 47.1/34.4mpg combined and 158/190g/km CO2 figures (TDI/TFSI) may seem immaterial, but four good cars in one is quite an achievement.

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