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The production A7 will fill the gap between the A6 Avant and the A8

Our Verdict

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

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8 December 2009

What is it?

It's the Audi A7. Or rather, it will be. At the moment it's still at the show car stage and it's called the Sportback concept.

The Sportback has actually been around for a while. It was unveiled at the Detroit motor show in January 2009 but because the A7 which it will spawn was still at such an early stage of development, it took until December '09 for Audi to let journalists near the concept car again.

If you like the appearance of the Sportback concept, the good news is that the production A7, which will be unveiled late in 2010, will look a lot like it.

According to Audi's head of exterior design, Achim-D Badstubner, the Sportback's shape is as close as concepts get to production sign-off. A few curves will have different radii, the bumpers will be marginally altered after being productionised, and the coupe-like roofline and glass area – the whole swoop from windscreen base to boot lid – will sit 10mm higher.

That coupe-esque roof is the whole purpose of the A7. The Germans don't think hatchbacks are premium, so the A7, like other four and five-door 'coupes' (think Mercedes CLS and 5-series GT) are their efforts to change all that. Audi thinks big two-door coupes (like the CL or 6-Series) are cars for old men, and that four-door coupes are the more youthful, dynamic answer. Cars for people who have kids, rather than empty-nesters.

It is trying to make the hatchback desirable, in short.

To that end, the A7 will sit above the A6 in Audi's range, in truth more in line with an A8. Its mechanical architecture is a slight mix of both – the floor, most crucially, will be from the A6 – but the engines will be mostly common across all three ranges, while the A7's interior will owe more to the new A8 than the A6. Material quality will be the same.

What's it like?

The Sportback is still a concept car, which is massively important to remember when driving it, because frankly it's rubbish. But so is any car, from any manufacturer, that's meant to do nothing but sit on a show stand.

If anything, the Sportback is a wonderful illustration of the effort that goes into engineering a car these days. The Sportback moves under its own 3.0-litre turbodiesel steam but it's noisy, rides terribly and has more squeaks and rattles than Dave's Mouse and Exotic Snake Emporium. The production A7 won't be like that.

There are promising signs too. The new A8's interior looks good, with a particularly swanky boat-throttle aping gearlever, so if the Sportback's nautically inspired wood trim makes it through to production it'll have a proper, jaunty yacht-inspired cabin.

Even in the concept, whose headroom is compromised by 10mm over the standard car, there's decent headroom (the glass roof of the Sportback will be an A7 option, while rear room is fine, though for two only). A third rear seat would mean the roof had to be higher and that, for “a design-led company”, wouldn't do. The boot, thanks to the high beltline, ought to prove adequately accommodating.

The engine and gearbox line-up will most closely mirror the A8's because the A7, like the BMW 5-series GT, is trying to be premium. Expect two and four-wheel-drive versions and, later, certainly an S7, with less probability on an RS7.

Should I buy one?

As we write you still can't, so, more importantly – how long will I have to wait and how much will it cost?

There's every chance the production A7 will be unveiled at the Paris motor show next September before going on sale near the end of 2010, with right-hookers following in the first months of 2011.

At the Sportback presentation Audi pointed out that there's a fair gap between where an A6 Avant stops and an A8 starts. In the UK it's 12 grand. The meat of the A7 range, therefore, will be between those two.

Join the debate

Comments
13

9 December 2009

This is what happens when you cross an Aston with an Audi which can't be a bad thing. Roomier and cheaper than the Rapide and possibly nearly as good looking.

9 December 2009

Would still have the CLS....its is so much classier, this Audi is just to plug the 12k hole between the A6 and the A8. plus whats the point of spending this much money and still look like a c**k, and by the way they have finally managed to ruin the only Audi i love which is the A8, the new one is just wrong. cant wait for the new CLS!!!

9 December 2009

[quote Autocar]

The Sportback is still a concept car, which is massively important to remember when driving it, because frankly it's rubbish. [/quote]

Given continuing reliability issues together with the fact Audi have just ranked dead last in the JD Power survey means this concept could be more true-to-life than you think.

Nice looking car though. Hope they don't 'do a Jaguar' and totally ruin its appearance between now and production.

9 December 2009

[quote Porus]

This is what happens when you cross an Aston with an Audi which can't be a bad thing. Roomier and cheaper than the Rapide and possibly nearly as good looking.

[/quote]

little to add to that; spot on.

but it's Jaguar i think, not Aston, who have most to fear as this makes the XJ's attempt at a coupe-ised sedan look redundant.

9 December 2009

Again, Audi has shown how to properly resolve this coupe-design concept in a saloon.

Jaguar should take note and start to prepare an overhaul of the XJ's bum as soon as possible after it goes on sale.

9 December 2009

I like it... I have a CLS and I think it is starting to look a little dated.

Not too confident the production version will look this good inside/out. The back end is very Lambo Estoque... which isn't a bad thing in my view. Same company after all. It probably was done on purpose.

http://autoworld.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/lamborghini-estoque-concept...

9 December 2009

audi quattroporte

9 December 2009

Looks wonderful. This is what the A8 should have been. An exact version of this concept. I really don't think Audi need to plug every gap in thier lineup just because Mercedes, BMW have.It's becoming like a very blinkered germanic arms race with no-one stepping back from the situation.

9 December 2009

[quote fuzzybear]It's becoming like a very blinkered germanic arms race with no-one stepping back from the situation.
[/quote]

... agreed - they have had their horsepower Top Trumps - now it is time to see which of the Three can invent the most niches ...

9 December 2009

It looks wonderful , but then it is only a concept. The production version isn't going to look this good , especially if they raise the roof. In this kind of car you have to accept compromises for the sake of style.

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