2018 Audi A7 Sportback review: Road-going business jet

Introduction

Like the idea of having your own road-going private jet, but want to be the pilot as opposed to the passenger? You’re looking for a top-flight executive coupe. The good news is that this sort of car serves as a status symbol amongst manufacturers and you know what they say - war is the mother of invention. The new Audi A7 Sportback faces tough competition from the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe and Mercedes-Benz CLS, but it has a few gadgets up its sleeve to try and one-up its fellow Germans.

Bodystyle: Four-door coupe Seats: 5              Price: From £53,995-£56,955

Did you know? Every Audi A7 features a 48 volt mild hybrid system.

2018 Audi A7 Sportback

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Verdict 8.0 / 10

The previous A7 was a runaway success and so Audi has worked hard to refine the popular formula. Boasting cutting-edge tech and sharp looks that’ll make it stand out in the business lounge, the new A7 gives competitors something to think about.

Driving enthusiasts might want to look in the direction of the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe for a more engaging drive, or the Merc CLS for comfort as the Audi is lacking the goods to be the outright best at both. However, it does cover the middle ground and this will be appealing to some.

Autonomy level three might not be live just yet, but when it is the Audi A7 will be ready.

Design & Exterior 9/10
Interior & Comfort 8/10
Technology & Connectivity 10/10
Performance & Handling 7/10
Safety Features 8/10
Spec & Trim Levels 8/10
Running Costs & Fuel Economy 8/10
Pricing 8/10

We Like

Handsome looks

Hatchback opening

All-wheel-drive grip

We Don't Like

Could be more engaging to drive

Lack of engine options for now

Costly options

2018 Audi A7 Sportback

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Design & Exterior 9/10

Cars like this are all about image and the A7, like a freshly tailored suit, serves its purpose well.

Feast your eyes on some of the finest creases in the industry, which give this car an incredibly purposeful stance. Taking note of the Audi Prologue concept car revealed in 2014, the new A7 is emphasised by taut lines that make the body look shrink-wrapped over a muscular skeleton beneath.

You’ll find the typical Audi family traits, too, with the large trapezoid grille being unmistakable. Something that’s totally new to the A7 is this car’s intricate, Matrix LED lights that put on quite a show. They certainly give unlocking the A7 at night a sense of occasion, but they’ll set you back just over £1.6k unless you got for an S Line car.

When it comes to fashion sense this latest Audi coupe makes the BMW offering look old and Merc’s challenge a little dull in comparison.

2018 Audi A7 Sportback

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Interior & Comfort 8/10

A flashy exterior is all well and good, but you’re going to be spending most of your time inside, so a cabin that cossets while the traffic isn’t going anywhere is most welcome. Thankfully this A7 ticks that box.

The thing that really separates the A7 from its competition is the sheer attention to detail. There isn’t a stitch out of place and this interior just oozes quality of design. Aluminium and fine leather line everything within arm’s reach, making the cabin feel plush and expensive. A pair of touchscreens absorb much of the switchgear leaving a clutter-free centre-console.

It doesn’t quite have the same levels of opulence as the A8, but the extensive options list can help you with that. Valcona leather, heated seats for all and acoustic glazing are yours if you’re willing to pay for them.

Audi has created more space inside this car than its predecessor, that’s despite the latest A7 being shorter overall. Witchcraft or Time Lord technology? Neither, actually, just some clever engineering that has lengthened the wheelbase. Rear occupants have plenty of leg room to stretch out, however, that sloping roofline does eat into head room and the middle passenger has to straddle a large transmission tunnel.

On the move this cabin is a comfortable and relaxing place to spend time. Wind noise is kept to a minimum, especially if you spec the automotive equivalent of double glazing, and road noise isn’t bad either – even on the optional 20-inch alloys.

2018 Audi A7 Sportback

Practicality

If you’re shuttling back and forward to meetings, occasionally collecting clients and playing chauffeur to the kids at the weekend, you’re going to need some space.

Boot space is the same 535-litres as before, but a large hatchback opening makes loading awkward items easy. It’s a bigger and more practical space than that found in a BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe or Mercedes-Benz CLS. The less stylish but more practical BMW 6 Series GT trumps the A7 with 570-litres.

Forward visibility is pretty good, and large door mirrors certainly help when manoeuvring this large car, but its sporting roofline creates a shallow rear window. Thankfully all cars come with a reversing camera.

2018 Audi A7 Sportback

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Technology & Connectivity 10/10

The Audi A7 is a tech fest and assimilates many of the futuristic features found on its bigger A8 brother. If you love your gadgets and gizmos, this car is like Disneyland being both magical and quite expensive.

A pair of large touchscreens dominate the centre console and serve as your interface to Audi’s latest infotainment software. The upper screen offers various main menus while the lower plays a supporting role delivering added information or control switches. The system is responsive and logical in layout, but the thing that really makes it stand out is haptic feedback. For those who don’t speak tech geek, when you push a button the screen vibrates much like the latest smartphones. This allows you to know when you’ve selected something without having to directly look at the screen — perfect for when you’re on the move.

Dual-zone air conditioning comes as standard, but that can be upgraded to four-zone for £800 if you really want your passengers to be at their most comfortable.

You can have a DVD player, digital TV, an awesome Bang & Olufsen stereo and so on. Driving doesn’t get much more convenient… That is until you no longer have to drive at all. Just like the A8, this car is autonomy level three meaning that it can drive without any input at speeds of up to 37mph on dual carriageways. Right now the law hasn’t caught up with the tech, but when it does this Audi will take you to your destination while you enjoy the ride.

2018 Audi A7 Sportback

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Performance & Handling 7/10

Performance

For now there are only two engines available, a petrol or diesel 3-litre V6. Smaller four-cylinder engines are on their way along with a plug-in hybrid model.

There are a few differences between the petrol and diesel cars with the former swapping cogs via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and the latter an 8-speed torque converter auto. Both feature Quattro all-wheel drive, but the petrol car can de-couple the rear drive when it’s not needed for better fuel economy.

The 3-litre V6 TDI, or 50 TDI as Audi’s new naming convention dictates, produces 282bhp and 457lb ft of torque. There’s plenty of thrust giving this big car a 0-62mph time of just 5.7 seconds. It’s quick, but never loses its sense of sophistication thanks to a muted engine note. Cruising on a stretch of motorway is serene and effortless, as is a swift overtake should the occasion arise. The 8-speed auto is simply a specter at the feast, delivering shifts that go unnoticed. That said, selecting a gear via the wheel-mounted paddles is sometimes accompanied by a momentary hesitation.

If petrol power is more your thing, the 55 TFSI is whisper quiet and just a tad faster hitting 62mph in 5.3 seconds. The combination of petrol V6 and a seamless dual-clutch gearbox provides smooth linear acceleration. However, if you’re likely to spend most of your time on the M25 the extra 88lb ft of torque the diesel offers might suit your needs better.

2018 Audi A7 Sportback

Handling and comfort

The Audi A7 has four driving modes that dictate how the car behaves. You can choose between Auto, Dynamic, Comfort and Individual.

In Comfort the steering is at its lightest and the throttle response its most gentle, it’s ideal for wafting along. If you add adjustable dampers at £1,125 you can soften the suspension also. We’d recommend going the whole hog and selecting Adaptive Air Suspension as it does a much better job of ironing out the creases of British Tarmac. That said, high frequency bumps in the road still tend to transcend into the cabin.

Auto detects how you are driving and adapts the car’s systems accordingly. The transitions go on behind the scenes and are hardly noticeable.

As this is a coupe it’s only natural for it to feature a Sport mode. Applying heftier steering means that you can be more accurate with your inputs when driving spiritedly. It might cost £2k, but go for the dynamic all-wheel steering to improve agility. At low speed the car will turn its rear wheels in the opposite direction for a tighter turning circle, or in the same direction at higher speeds for stability. Body control is good through a sequence of bends, but you never really feel all that excited by the way this car moves. It’s quick, capable in all weathers thanks to the grippy all-wheel drive system, but lacks that driver connection that would make it more entertaining.

If you take pleasure in carving up snaking B-roads the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe is the better bet, but the A7 is arguably the most refined motorway trawler of the bunch. That last point counts for a lot considering that’s where most will spend their time.

Engine choice: 3-litre V6 TDI

0-62mph

5.7 seconds

Fuel economy

50.4mpg

Emissions

147g/km CO2

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Safety Features 8/10

Euro NCAP have yet to test the new Audi A7, but good safety equipment should net it an easy five stars.

You can have up to 39 assistance systems on the new A7, but every car comes standard with a host of airbags, cruise control with speed limiter and automatic emergency braking.

There are two Isofix points in the back seats, and another in the front passenger seat if you tick the option box.

However, there are a few more safety items you might want to spec, but they don’t come cheap. Traffic sign recognition is an extra £200 and the 360 degree camera can only be had with the near £2k Comfort and Sound pack. The City Assist Pack includes a blindspot warning, rear seatbelt pre-tensioners and front Cross Traffic Alert. Yours for a princely £1,375. Night Vision might the perfect gadget for unfamiliar country roads, but not at £2,200.

Arguably the biggest safety feature of this Audi has yet to come online. The vast majority of car accidents are caused by human error, so taking the human out of the equation has the potential to make driving safer. We’ll have to put that theory to the test when autonomy level three can be used on public roads.

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Spec & Trim Levels 8/10

Colours

If you’re after a black or white A7 you’re in luck! Audi won’t charge you a penny for them, but be prepared to spend around £700 for other hues. The metallic colour pallet consists of a handful of silvers and dark greys with a sporty shade of red being the only highlight.

For the same money you can go for a pearl effect paint job. It might only be offered in grey, but it does make this executive jet look particularly smart.

2018 Audi A7 Sportback

Trim Levels

The Audi A7 is offered in two trim levels, Sport and S-line, with a barrage of options available for each.

Entry-level Sport is pretty well equipped from the off with 19-inch alloy wheels, LED lights, DAB radio, Audi’s fantastic Virtual Cockpit, rear camera and cruise control.

S-Line adds a bit more style with larger 20-inch alloy wheels, fancy Matrix LED lights, leather and Alcantara sports seats, as well as sports suspension that drops the ride hight slightly.

As with any premium car, the options list can be a killer on the A7. Things like adjustable dampers are over £1000, air suspension £2k and a panoramic sunroof costs £1,600. But it’s the little things that soon mount up, like a heated windscreen at £575 or rear cup holders for £100. Audi will even cheekily charge you for electric folding door mirrors on a car that starts at nearly £54k.

Audi’s packs can save you some money if you’re looking for a handful of toys. Bite the bullet and go for the near £2k Comfort and Sound pack to get things like a 360 degree reversing camera, mood lighting and a premium Bang and Olufsen sound system.

2018 Audi A7 Sportback

Size and Dimensions

Length

4,968mm

Width

1,908mm

Height

1,422mm

Max towing weight unbraked - braked

TBC

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Running Costs & Fuel Economy 8/10

For now the Audi A7 is offered with two engines, both of which are 3-litre V6s. A plug-in model will soon arrive, which could save you some money when it comes to running costs and will be a great option for company car users.

The 282bhp diesel V6 claims up to 50.4mpg combined, that’s just a whisker better than a 640d Gran Coupe and CLS 350d.

A 335bhp V6 appeases petrol fans and claims just shy of 40mpg combined thanks to its 48V system that allows the car to coast for short periods.

Many will be looking at the A7 as a company car and so BIK is a big factor. For 2018/19 the rate stands at 34 percent or £620 a month  for the diesel on 40% tax. The petrol option is a little cheaper with BIK of 32%. The A7 again bests its German rivals and also claims best-in-class residual values.

Reliability and servicing

Recent surveys consistently show the brand to be amongst the best in the industry, a key reason for many to consider an Audi.

All new cars come with a three-year 60,000 mile warranty, but there are extensions available for the A7. A four-year 75k mile warranty costs an additional £730 or £1,750 gets you a five-year 90,000-mile upgrade.

Servicing

Minor

The car will tell you

Major

19,000 / 24 months

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Pricing 8/10

The Audi A7 is priced to undercut its closest rivals, the Mercedes-Benz CLS by a little, the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe by a lot. In the case of the BMW there’s a £6k void between starting prices. The A7 also comes standard with all-wheel drive, something that is totally lacking on the BMW.

An A7 Sport kicks-off at £54k or £57k for the S-line, but the vast majority will go for a PCP deal. Drop a healthy £6,000 deposit on a petrol A7 and you can have it for around £700 a month. The diesel is only £20 a month more costly over three years. Each undercuts the Mercedes CLS by a considerable margin.

Audi wants to be king of the hill when it comes to four-door coupes and keen pricing will win the new A7 plenty of fans.

Check out:

2018 Audi A7 Sportback

Recommendations

Tech Junkie

The A7 already comes with plenty of toys, but make sure you go for the Comfort and Sound pack to get that awesome B&O sound system.

Cost Conscious

The options list can very quickly make the A7 a seriously expensive car. It already comes with most of the things you’d want like DAB radio and cruise control.

Luxury Seeker

If you’ve got the cash you can make your A7 almost as lavish as an A8. Coat everything in leather, add some fancy wood trim and don’t forget to get the sound insulating glass to keep the riffraff out.

Mercedes-Benz CLS

The new CLS is a serious challenger for class leadership, but it can still work out more costly due to worse residuals than the Audi.

BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe

A more involving car to drive, but it’s costly and starting to show its age.

Porsche Panamera

Arguably the more desirable badge, but it comes with less desirable running costs.

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