The Audi A7 Sportback arrived on our shores in 2011 offering some of the most captivating looks in the Audi line up. Fast forward to March this year and a refreshed version has been unleashed with appearance and technology upgrades. Chris Bowen sampled the A7 Sportback for EFTM, compete with a themed body wrap to coincide with the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron.
The 10 Minute Test Drive.
The first time you sidle alongside the Sportback you immediately get a sense of the substantial dimensions on hand. It has that typical grand-tourer look to it, bulky yet expertly chiselled producing a really dynamic silhouette.
I’ve sat in many an Audi but this has an air about it that leaves the others behind. Our S Line equipped model simply felt lavish and beautifully crafted. This typical craftsmanship is evident everywhere you turn, new aluminium details around the air vents and MMI controls are just one example. There are no creaks, no misaligned trim and no ergonomic failures. It’s about as perfect a cabin can get.
But what about the drive? Somehow it feels much smaller than what is reality. The steering is quite light even when “dynamic” mode is selected and does lack a little feedback to be honest. However the A7 Sportback is still a sheer joy to pilot, few cars have the all-conquering, road eating competence on display. With all four paws tied to the ground via the all-wheel-drive Quattro system you never feel unsettled, even during the most testing of circumstances. It rides with a level of absorbency sometimes foreign to European offerings, yet it corners flat with very little body roll.
Then there’s the most remarkable diesel engine I’ve driven since the Volkswagen V10 Touareg way back when. The high-output 3.0 TDI Bitubo diesel is simply stunning, it produces the most satisfying soundtrack I’ve heard from just about any engine. It’s not brash and raw like some of the best V8’s but rather deep and full base combined with a twin-turbo hiss. I could drive all day with the windows down just to hear that sophisticated, mysterious sound. You’d really struggle to pick it as a diesel without opening the fuel cap.
The A7 Sportback never feels neck-breaking but that’s largely due to the sheer overall refinement. It is undoubtedly quick with the ability to hurtle down the road without the tyre screeching and excess revving of lesser vehicles.
Ins and Outs
The high-output 3.0 TDI Biturbo produces 235kW and an enormous 650Nm of torque. A seamless eight-speed tiptronic transmission gets all that power to the ground and really comes into its own when you feel like using the paddle shifters. The 0-100km/h is dispatched in a very hasty 5.2 seconds.
The changes for 2015 include exterior, interior and technological upgrades. The front end has had a facelift with a new singleframe grille. The lower splitter is said to be more cohesive across the width of the car and the larger air inlets get some extra chrome bling.
The swooping rear end scores new LED tail lights in a flatter design, trapezoidal tailpipe trims and a bold, contrasting diffuser to enhance the dynamic visuals. I love the little pop up spoiler!
The list of standard features across the range is impressive including 19-inch alloy wheels, MMI Navigation plus with MMI touch, including Bluetooth interface, CD/DVD player, 2 x SDHC card readers, new USB-based Audi Music Interface (AMI) and 10GB flash memory, BOSE surround sound with 14 speakers, 12ch DSP amplifier and a total output of 600w, Parking system plus, with front and rear camera, Electric folding exterior mirrors, Electric tailgate, opening and closing, Audi active lane and side assist, DAB+ digital radio receptions and a Convenience key.
The Tech Inside
The real game changer is the Driver Information System (DIS) that sits in between the speedometer and tachometer. When you see it in action any other system looks backwards. High definition map navigation appears right in your field of vision. For the true tech nerds it’s powered by the new-generation MIB2 infotainment system, which itself is driven by the latest Nvidia Tegra 30 quad-core processor.
I’ve experience the new Matrix LED headlight technology on the A8. It provides exceptional lighting of the road ahead and allows for high beam to stay on even when there are approaching motorists. A real visual demonstration of the intricacies of this system occurred early one morning when there was a slight mist. You could literally see the multitude of light shards splitting away from other motorists and even reflective sights, truly amazing to witness.
The Hip Pocket.
Of course quite frankly you need to be loaded to buy one. Before all on roads and statutory charges the A7 range kicks off with the 3.0 TDI quattro S tronic priced from $115,400. Our test car, The A7 3.0TDI Biturbo quattro starts from $144,990 while the epic S7 4.0 TFSI begins at $179,900.
A claimed fuel economy figure of 6.1L/100km is remarkable and in real world terms also close to obtainable, my best effort was 6.8L/100km.
EFTM Rubber Stamp of Approval.
This is a true high-end luxury vehicle and one that is a sheer pleasure to drive. The sloping hatchback rear end may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I personally don’t mind the look of it at all. It’s little wonder the S7 in particular has been one of the Audis of choice for super hero Tony Stark for the past three Iron Man films. The A7 Sportback is also very practical with enormous boot space, room for four adults all while disguised in a highly attractive four-door coupe style vehicle. I award the Audi A7 Sportback 3.0TDI Biturbo quattro the EFTM Distinction Rubber Stamp of Approval, despite the matte finish body wrap.