23 Aug: Audi A7 Sportback

… Audi A7 Sportback Sport Line quattro …

The Audi A7 Sportback is an ‘old-school’ GT. That’s not a derogatory term, that’s a compliment. What Audi has done is taken the original concept of a continental grand tourer and updated it.

That original definition of a ‘GT’ was quickly adopted and devalued by other manufacturers. It was applied to the bootlids and flanks of an unlikely breed of cars which claimed to be more sporty high performance versions of their everyday commuting counterparts.

The GT badge was further degraded by exotic sports car manufacturers who simply wanted to add more lustre to their undoubtedly quick, but cramped, low-slung two-seaters with only enough space in the ‘boot’ for a toothbrush and mankini.

Audi has legitimised the term again with the A7 Sportback. The result is a roomy 5 seater saloon with a huge boot and effortless cruising ability. It also offers another advantage lacking in other so-called GTs – range, the ability to travel long distances without having to stop for fuel every couple of hundred miles.

That’s down to the new 3 litre V6 TDI engine which in test car form provided 227 bhp through its quattro all-wheel drive system. This is a quick and capable machine which offers tremendous grip in all conditions, but if you want more, 4 wheel steering is an additional option.

It’s a big car though. Five metres long and as wide as a ‘proper’ Transit, the car tips the scales at 1900 kgs, but it doesn’t feel heavy, although it does feel solid. The car will sprint from rest to 60 mph in under 7 seconds and fast enough to trigger speed cameras on autobhans and autostradas. Thank goodness for cruise control, eh?

Combined with adaptive air suspension, and the 8 speed Tiptronic ‘box, the result is one of the most relaxed motoring options on the planet. You could drive from Glasgow to Nice with one stop for a fuel top-up and a Mars bar supper, or it’s French equivalent.

The 50-plus mpg consumption is enhanced by a mild hybrid drivetrain fitted as standard, which in real-world driving reduces fuel consumption by up to a quarter of a gallon every 100 miles. It does so by intelligently shutting off the engine at speeds of between 34 and 99mph enabling the engine to coast in freewheeling mode. The Belt Alternator Starter (BAS) re-fires the engine almost imperceptibly after coasting, and is capable of feeding up to 12kW of energy back into the lithium ion battery during recuperative braking.

The technical sophistication of the car is matched inside the sumptuous cabin. At first sight, the dashboard looks pretty spartan, till you switch on the ignition. Two black panels in the centre console and the driver’s display dead ahead then illuminate opening up the hidden array of electronic options and delights.

All the major and ancillary functions are there, although it will take a minute or two to familiarise yourself with the huge choice of settings available. But it’s the attention to detail that lifts the car above the ordinary. For instance, the handbrake indicator light glows red when parked, as you would expect, but when the engine is running and the vehicle is in motion it glows green when stopped at traffic lights or junctions. A nice touch.

The only thing I didn’t like was the ‘intelligent’ lighting system which determines when headlights should be used. Given the sometimes dazzling intensity of modern LED lighting systems, I would prefer drivers to retain ultimate control of when they should be used. No doubt there is an option within the Controls to over-ride that but according to Audi there are over 400 personal preferences which can be changed/stored in the system. It would take me more than a week to find it on that basis!

With more sophisticated technology than you’re ever likely to need, if you want to cross continents quickly, frugally and in comfort, the A7 Sportback is hard to beat.

Oh, and one more thing, with 4WD and a huge boot it could double up as a rally service barge, but I don’t think anyone would seriously want to be so cruel. No dirty boots and oily overalls in here please.

  • Review Date: August 23, 2018
  • Price
    £55,140
  • Engine
    2967 cc V6 diesel
  • Performance
    0-62 mph in 6.5 secs, flat out at 155 mph
  • Economy
    50.4 mpg (combined)
  • CO2 emissions
    147 k/gm

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