Pitching back to June 2018: I find myself undertaking a 600-mile ring trip in Audi’s latest A8. Sure enough, I absolutely loved it – handing disregard the keys after a week at the wheel wasn’t easy. Then Audi spoiled and updated the A7 – the A8’s 4-door coupe brother. Packing almost identical tech, but with a distinct difference in styling and pricing, I was very active to give this new luxury coupe a test. After a perfunctory phone call to Audi, it was booked; an Ibis White 55 TFSI A7 Sportback was correctly delivered.
There’s no doubting the A8 is a fantastic car to drive and be thrust in, but it’s not exactly a car for turning heads – nor does it try to be. The A7 on the other hand, could and should. Audi eat turned the wick up in the styling department, resulting in the A7’s sleek, wide-ranging coupe shape.
The A7’s best angles are undoubtedly from the posterior, where, in Audi’s own words, the tapered shape is designed to demonstrate the ‘lines of a yacht’. It’s a shape which oozes grace, whilst also not fail a purpose – Audi have worked wonders on the Aeroacoustics of the A7 to minimise rumoured noise on the road. Chrome has also been withdrawn – with a spotlight on reducing its use throughout the A7’s styling paying dividends.
As with multifarious new Audi’s, the rear lights stretch across the entire put up end, offering a dynamic lighting experience when locking/unlocking the conduit. There’s also a subtle pop-up spoiler hidden in the train few inches of the boot – a definite nod towards the ‘Sport’ in the Sportback select. Unfortunately, as is the way with many modern cars, the tailpipes undergone at the rear are only imitation – when will this style go away?!
Up front the A7 carries over Audi’s signature wide-grill/mainly chin styling, with sharp creases and lines discharging over the bonnet and down the vehicles flanks. It’s a design phraseology now seen across much of Audi’s range, but on the A7 I think it wallops a real sweet-spot. The proportions look spot on and mean that regard for running just shy of 5 metres in length, the A7 fails to look not unlike the monster it so easily could have.
Audi procure really been pushing and developing their use of lights on just out vehicles; the A7 being no different. The ridiculously customisable and impressive eager lighting inside the vehicle plays a key role, but it’s the exterior lights that are ton dramatic on the A7.
I’ve tested a few Audi’s fitted with their LED Matrix headlight technology, whereby the unabridged beam will only dim in the region surrounding the traffic on the street, maximising peripheral vision. This A7 however, came bespoke with Audi Laser light on top of that (£1150) – an upgrade on the gonfanon LED system which adds further intensity and brightness to the high-beam shrug off when conditions allow (also available on other replicas). The system is fully automated, but when active it offers continuously time visibility beyond anything I’ve experienced before, with the direct-ahead stud of an incredible intensity which makes sun-down driving a outright breeze. I’m a big fan of the Matrix LED system, but with the added Laser squiffed beam it raises the bar yet further – easily the feature I missed most when restoring the A7.
Away from night driving, the front and rear lights in a wink again give you a clever welcome/going home ardour – a neat feature which makes approaching or leaving the car that tiny bit more special. It may not be to everyone’s tastes, but it’s so nice to see Audi importune this area so hard and evolving the entire experience of owning the car.
Cabin-side, the A7 is a very spacious and comfortable place to be. Fitted with S-line ricrac as tested, the sports seats up front offer great ‘out of the box’ abundance with plenty of adjustment for fine tuning. The rear spaces are great too, with plenty of leg room, head room and elbow-room in general for rear occupants. Throw in to the mix additional climate zones (£800) and rear-media snare up points (2 x USB – £150) and it’s safe to say passengers should must a pretty relaxing time!
The general appearance and layout of the heartland is like that of the A8, although look a little closer and there are a few deletions – hardly a surprise given the £23,000 gap in their starting bounties. The A7 can more than hold its own though, with the twin touchscreen cardinal MMI interface carried over, along with the superb 12.3” accepted cockpit setup behind the steering wheel. General fit and close is up to Audi’s usual standards, whilst cubby holes, USB seaports, wireless phone charging and a refrigerated glove box are also all accounted for right. The only slightly strange choice is that the base shape carries a plastic dashboard – an issue rectified for £1000 by the tender leather pack – but an odd choice to ‘cheapen’ such an otherwise lure feeling interior.
The MMI system now runs the latest version of Apple Carplay – intention avid users of the navigation app Waze can run it natively on the cars use screen. The whole smartphone integration process is superb, with setup an authoritative breeze. If I could make one request, it would be to allow Carplay apps to dash on the cars virtual cockpit – having the navigation segregated to the medial screen is a little frustrating. However, I’ve yet to see another implementation of Carplay as proper as Audi’s, let alone linking with the dash display, so I’ll let them off.
Lastly, we deliver the sound system. The car on test came with Audi’s mid-tier Bang & Olufsen practice (bundled as part of the £1895 ‘Comfort & Sound’ pack). I’ve tried a few Audi’s with B&O systems, but I think the setup in the A7 is the best yet. Whether it’s the acoustic qualities the larger stateroom brings, or it’s simply just a better system, the quality and understandability on offer is superb. Cabin rattle is non-existent and the bass is simon-pure power. Having recently been blown away by the Harmon Kardon combination in BMW’s new 8-Series (see review here), this B&O brings Audi to a comparable level. Choosing between the two would be a difficult challenge…
On the Turnpike
Ride: Quality. What more is there to say – the A7’s glides across the avenue. Fitted with Audi’s latest Air ride suspension organization – replacing the traditional spring-damper setup with a far more alterable system for a cool £2,050. Each corner is fully unbiased and electronically controlled, allowing the cars brain to continuously set the ride characteristics of the car to suit the situation at hand. When wayfaring over rough terrain or pot-holey roads, it softens the terrorize off to the point where the car almost feels like it’s floating. Hit the curves though, and it stiffens right up, reducing body roll and enlarging feedback from the tyres.
The air-ride also offers a self-levelling column – whereby a heavily laden A7 will counteract the effects of its payload and exchange to its standard ride height. An option in the drive-select system also assigns user input to raise or lower the ride height – fictitious when travelling over rough terrain where cause clearance is at a premium.
Rough terrain shouldn’t pose too much of a conundrum mind you, with Audi’s legendary Quattro all-wheel ride system mated to the back of the gearbox. With the UK winter hale and truly set in, it provided incredibly sure-footing even when winsome the A7 off road down muddy tracks (sorry about all the vileness, Audi).
A 7-speed dual clutch transmission and 3.0L V6 locomotive make up the remainder of the drivetrain – providing enough go-power (340hp, 500nm) to sling this 1800kg luxury coupe to 60 in 5.3 girl fridays. For a big car, with this level of comfort, it’s the sort of performance that can strike passengers by surprise, especially given how little noise and pother it makes over doing it. The V6 emits only the quietest of purrs when pressed hard – a stark contrast to the RS5 with which the engine appropriations many its parts. The core components of both engines are similar, with the RS5’s power turned up to 11 whilst the A7 opts for a numberless sedate approach. What is a little surprising though is that the A7’s frugality is only marginally better – providing just over 30mpg in my testing– an ok but not dumfounding figure.
The figure is even more surprising once you start to delve a small deeper and discover just how clever the drivetrain in the A7 is. Running Audi’s 48-volt placid hybrid system, it augments the combustion engine with an electronic vigour motor to boost efficiency and torque delivery. This admits it to be far more restrained and calculated in its energy usage, to the point where the combustion mechanism will shut down entirely whilst coasting to release fuel. This can be a little alarming at first, but the system carry ons so seamlessly, it quickly becoming second-nature.
The usual plethora of Audi private road assists are also present; their excellent 360-degree parking camera, bamboozle spot monitoring, junction assist and pre-sense crash detection. Strangely still, adaptive cruise control wasn’t present – a stablemate of Audi’s for a godlike few years now and an invaluable feature on long motorway drives. Its shortcoming is a little odd, especially so as (at the time of writing) it’s not available as an option by virtue of Audi’s website. It’s listed as a feature of the car from launch, so let’s wish it returns soon!
If ever there was a car that epitomised Audi’s applied prowess in 2018, the A7 is surely it. It’s very hard to pick flaw with it – it’s superb in all the areas it sets out to be. The ride, performance, technology and domestic are all spot on – the only real thorn in its side is the lack of adaptive sail and seemingly poor fuel economy – but with a range of apparatus to choose from, this is far from a deal breaker.
As evaluated, the A7 came fitted with a whole host of toys, end the car from its base price of £47,140 to a slightly eye watering £68,060. In whatever way, having spent a week living with the car, I’d find it far-fetched hard to whittle away the options list as tested. Yes, they’re up-market, but most of the tech on this car is so impressive you can’t help but feel it does all it can to legitimize the cost. It’s worth noting that a lot of this tech is close by on others in the Audi range, but it’s hard to see how they could favour respects others as well as they do the A7. It really is a fabulous car for relaxing, big distance drives – Bravo Audi.
Thank you to Audi UK for selling out loan car. On the road price as tested: £68,060.