Audi’s new A7 Sportback is in the final stages of development and insiders now confirm that the four-door coupé will be unveiled at the Paris motor show in September.

UK sales will start in March next year and a V10-powered RS variant will be part of the range.

See the latest Audi A7 spy pictures

The A7, pictured here almost undisguised, is the first model based on Audi’s new mid-size platform, which will underpin next year’s seventh-generation A6. The 4950mm-long A7 has been conceived to provide stiff competition to the new Mercedes-Benz CLS, also set to be revealed at the Paris show, and a production version of BMW’s recently unveiled Gran Coupé concept due in 2012.

Topping the line-up will be an RS7 Sportback performance model running a 580bhp version of Audi’s naturally aspirated 5.2-litre V10 engine in combination with the firm’s new seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.

Other models in the line-up will use a range of V6, V8 and V10 petrol and diesel engines. Among the engines expected to account for the majority of UK sales are Audi’s new 330bhp supercharged 3.0-litre V6 direct injection petrol and 250bhp 3.0-litre V6 common-rail diesel.

Previewed by the Sportback concept shown at last year’s Detroit show, the production version of the A7 Sportback is clothed in a sleek four-door fastback body similar in style to the A5 Sportback.

Some design cues hark back to the Audi 100 S coupé made between 1970 and 1976.

“The overall look is less formal than that of the A8,” says Audi design boss Stefan Sielaff, who suggests that the new car will appeal to an increasing number of luxury car buyers who place good looks ahead of overall functionality.

Inside, the A7 Sportback receives a unique dashboard, previewed by that gracing the earlier concept car, and nominal seating for four. A three-person rear bench will be offered as an option.

Greg Kable

Photos: Carparazzi

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