Audi first used the Sportback name on today’s five-door Audi A3, but the name is more appropriate for the A5 and A7, both of which are lower-slung, more rakish five-door coupés.

Mercedes was the first to offer a racier executive choice with the striking 2004 CLS, but Audi has taken up the idea with most zeal, giving us first the A5 Sportback, a five-door coupé derived from the A4, and then the A7, whose arrival pre-empted the new A6.

The CLS is a saloon and BMW’s 5 Series GT is a somewhat bulky-looking hatchback whose boot door can also be opened like a saloon’s. The A7, like the A5, is a low-roofed five-door coupé. Indeed, so close is the A7 to the A5 that you could almost consider it a 105.5 per cent recreation of the same car, this percentage being the difference in length between them, although the price hike is rather larger. Audi is certainly driving its new models into tight niches these days.

2016 saw the A7 get a light facelift which predominantly revolved around minor tweaks to the exterior and the integration of more technology, chiefly smatphone connectivity.

The A7 range starts starts at a tempting-enough price and it’s relatively compact, consisting of a trio of V6 diesels – a 201bhp, 242bhp and a 315bhp bi-turbo version, all offered in either SE Executive, S-line and Black Edition trims. There are also three performance models from Audi Sport all using Inglostadt's favourite twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine - the S7, RS7 and RS7 Performance.

Quattro four-wheel drive is standard on all but the lower-powered 3.0 TDI.

After being on the market for the best part of seven years, the A7 is ready to be refreshed. Although details are sketchy, there is a strong possibility the new A7 range will gain a hybrid and plug-in hybrid models, while rumours suggest the S7 will get a downsized V6 petrol engine and an all-electric model is in development.

Top 5 Grand tourers

  • Mercedes-Benz SL

    Mercedes-Benz SL

    1
  • Mercedes-Benz CLS
    Does the Mercedes CLS lead the four-door coupé pack?

    Mercedes-Benz CLS

    2
  • Porsche Panamera
    The Porsche Panamera was first launched in 2009 and revamped in 2013

    Porsche Panamera

    3
  • Audi A7
    The Audi A7 Sportback delivers on all fronts, except for an ability implied in its name

    Audi A7

    4
  • BMW 6 Series coupé
    The 6 Series shares its plaform with models as diverse as the 5 Series and Rolls-Royce Ghost

    BMW 6 Series

    5

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