The Audi A7 proves you can have your cake and eat it.
Another German brand may have invented the four-door coupe segment as we know it, but Audi is likely the most adventurous manufacturer to roll with the direction. While the Mercedes-Benz CLS and BMW 6-Series GranCoupe look like elongations of their true-coupe siblings, the Audi A7 looks nothing like the A6 that underpins it, or the A5 coupe that slots below it. With a dramatic fastback roofline and a steep, abrupt tail, the Audi A7 is a unique design proposition that’s also practical. It retains the cavernous cabin of the A6 saloon, while introducing a lift-back hatch to increase practicality. The A7 is nothing short of stunning in every respect, period.
The engines on offer may be limited, and it has been up to some criticism in this regard, but the A7 has largely shrugged it off. This is a premium, luxury, lifestyle-oriented offering, and it makes no apologies about what it is. And if you’re looking to stand out a little in the corporate carpark, the A7 might just well be the tool to do just that.
“The Audi A7 looks like a beautiful and sleek coupe, but it’s actually a luxurious and practical five-door executive express.” - Carbuyer UK
While the A7 may be mentioned in the same breath as the Mercedes-Benz CLS and Porsche Panamera, it’s a truly different beast to behold. The CLS merely welds a coupe-roofline on a saloon body, and the (original) Panamera resembled a Porsche 911 that’s had an anaphylactic shock; The A7 is an altogether different recipe. Audi has seemingly done the impossible by marrying deadly looks to impressive practicality, and in doing so have created a profile that is about as instantly-recognisable as the six-point SIngleframe grille or the four rings that live within it.
As the A7 is a premium offering, slotting above the A6 saloon and appealing to a more style-oriented customer, there’s no trim level in the A7 lineup that’ll leave you wanting. Big wheels, a healthy helping of aggression, and plenty of visual flair all come as standard here, and the A7 is better for it. Should that not be enough, an S-Line package is available to further enhance the appeal of what looks like a European muscle car.
Engine & Drivetrain
“As you can see from the rundown, there’s plenty of appeal to the senses in the A7 range…” - CarAdvice
In Australia, the Audi A7 Sportback is motivated exclusively from finely-tuned oil-burners. The base model (if you can call it that) 3.0TDi Quattro packs a 3.0-litre turbodiesel that’s good for 160kW and 500Nm, which makes for smooth but rapid progress on the motorway and around town. Power goes to all four wheels through a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, which shifts quickly and imperceptibly no matter the situation.
Step up to the 3.0TDi BiTurbo Quattro, and suddenly there’s 235kW & 650Nm on offer from the same 3.0-litre diesel (though, as the name suggests, it sports a second turbocharger). The beastly oil-burner cooperates with an eight-speed dual-clutch auto, which is capable of rocketing the A7 from rest to 100km/h in a jaw-dropping 5.2-seconds. Despite that performance, the more powerful Sportback claims an official fuel consumption rating of just 6.1L/100km, which isn’t entirely unrealistic if you have a light right foot.
“It may only be a four-seater but the Audi A7 Sportback has heaps of legroom and a big boot.” - AutoExpress
Like all Audis, the cabin of the A7 is impressive no matter how you judge it. There’s a wraparound feel that’s usually reserved for sports cars, with a lower-than-usual seating position emphasising the fact you’re not in just any other Audi. Build quality is excellent, and the tactility of the controls contributes to the overall enjoyment.
Despite the A7’s positioning as a lifestyle product and the seemingly-compromising roofline, the big Sportback is actually surprisingly practical. There’s great storage all round the interior, with no less than three stowage points along the centre console up front, and a massive boot behind the rear seats. Cargo space is rated at 535-litres with the rear seats up, with a total of 1390-litres on offer when the seats are folded flat. Space is a little shallow though, due to that dramatic roofline.
Huge boot aside, the A7 is pretty good at carrying people too. The rear half of the cabin is cavernous, with plenty of room for all but the lankiest of passengers. It’s headroom that you run out of first (no surprise there), but legroom is generous. As expected of a sporty proposition, the seats in the A7 are amazingly cosseting, with S-Line seats that merely enhance that hemmed-in feeling further.
Behind the Wheel
“The most pleasing aspect of the Audi A7’s chassis is that it serves a genuinely comfortable, pliant ride.” - Autocar
Available exclusively as a Quattro all-wheel drive proposition, the Audi A7 wholeheartedly embodies the term ‘grand tourer’ in its truest sense. The 3.0-litre diesel engines may not offer much in the way of an aural experience (the 3.0TDi is silent, while the 3.0TDi BiTurbo has a muted rumble), it does give the big Sportback some pretty long legs out on the motorway. This car eats miles like you wouldn’t believe, and long journeys can be undertaken with little concern for discomfort. Set the adaptive suspension to ‘Comfort’ and you’re left wafting up the tarmac in endless comfort, with the engine up front ever willing to dispatch slower-moving traffic with ease.
But the A7 is not a one-trick pony. Find a nice bit of back road, and the ‘Dynamic’ setting will come good. The steering tightens, the suspension stiffens, and the entire car goes into attack mode. The A7 feels right at home clinging to corners too, which will leave many drivers grinning from ear to ear. When it comes to ride and handling, the word ‘capable’ falls short of describing the A7’s breath of ability.
It’s not perfect, though. While NVH levels are low and muted, the bigger alloy wheels can sometimes send sharp shocks into the cabin when driving over particularly jarring surfaces. And while the chassis is willing, the steering wheel doesn't inspire confidence with its lack of communication, though the ability of the A7 will likely never leave you nervous.
Safety & Technology
“The A7 bi-turbo also came overflowing with driver assistance technology, most of which will be optional locally.” - CarAdvice
Being based on the Audi A6, the A7 Sportback ought to perform similarly to the 5-star EuroNCAP-rated former. The A7 enjoys a generous smattering of airbags, adaptive headlights with LED daytime running lights, the usual electronic brake, traction, and stability systems, all-round parking sensors, and a reversing camera as standard. This makes the Sportback a surprisingly well-rounded proposition for families too, despite what its mature and stylish image may suggest. Optional safety & convenience kit include things like active cruise control, adaptive steering (which we highly recommend if you enjoy an involving drive), park assist, and S-Line sports pack for extra aggression.
Like all Audis, the A7 can be very high-tech should you want it to be. Also on the options list is ‘Night View Assist,’ which fits a night-vision camera up front and displays the view on the display that’s nestled between the dials. While this might sound like a great way to avoid wandering wildlife in the middle of the night, it’s worth mentioning that the adaptive LED headlights are actually pretty bright as they are, with optional Matrix-LED units available to keep high-beam on at all times (while never dazzling other road users). There’s also a heads-up display to put driver information right in the line of sight, which we have found to be surprisingly useful. The options list continues (as Audi options lists tend to do), but we advise exercising caution when ticking those boxes.
It style may be divisive, but the A7 continues to stand as one of the most distinctive contenders in its segment. With a wedge-like shape and heaps of attitude, the A7 is the best way to remind yourself (and indeed others) that you really can have your cake and eat it. Great ride and handling, paired with oodles of space and great practicality means that there’s almost no compromise in owning this dramatically-styled Sportback, making it one of the most easily-recommended cars on the market.
The two variants on offer are both good, and which variant you should settle for depends highly on your budget. You don’t really lose out on either car, as fuel consumption, reliability, and range of ability are similar on both cars. It’s merely a matter of performance - and in the real world, you’d be hard-pressed to find a situation where the ‘base’ 3.0TDi will fall short. That said, this is a sports car after all, so a little more power wouldn’t go amiss. Either way, we can pretty much guarantee that life with an A7 will see you taking the long route home more often than you really should.
WhatCar? - 3.0/5.0 - “The Audi A7 Sportback is beautifully finished and well-equipped. Pity it’s not as good to drive as some of its rivals.”
AutoExpress - 4.0/5.0 - “Sleek styling and hatchback practicality set the Audi A7 Sportback apart from the usual executive saloon car suspects.”
Telegraph UK - 8.0/10 - “The Audi A7 is a car that can appeal to both your head and your heart, with smooth yet efficient engines, lots of space and sleek styling. Yes, an A6 is cheaper to buy, but the Audi still undercuts its direct rivals and is every bit as appealing.”
TopGear - 6.0/10 - “Great-looking and groaning with tech, if a bit stolid on the road. The A7 takes the fight to the Mercedes-Benz CLS… and wins.”
CarBuyer - 3.5/5.0 - “The Audi A7 looks like a beautiful and sleek coupe, but it’s actually a luxurious and practical five-door executive express.”
Autocar - 4.0/5.0 - “This may be a coupé carrying a sport label in its name and it may be fast, but the A7 is not an especially sporting car; rather inert handling and desensitised steering see to that. But it’s highly effective as the rapid, luxurious, hi-tech and stylish cruiser that Audi intended it to be.”
MotorTrend - 4.0/5.0 - “The A7 is Audi’s big luxurious sporty hatchback. Almost identical to the A6 sedan, save for the fastback roofline, the A7 slots just below the A8 in the lineup and functions as a halo vehicle of sorts.”
CarAdvice - 8.5/10 - “The Audi A7 Sportback has enough new technology and detail efficiency improvements to keep it competitive against the facelifted Mercedes-Benz CLS as a large sedan alternative. Between the new entry diesel and flagship bi-turbo, the buyer can use the range as if it were an abacus shifting gradually between luxury and sports, and in all instances doing it very well.”