Audi has unveiled its new A7 at the Paris motor show.
This is the car that Audi hopes will take sales from Mercedes-Benz’s CLS and continue the Ingolstadt firm’s evolution of its ‘big car’ design: the new A7 Sportback.
See Autocar's exclusive studio pics of the new Audi A7 Sportback - plus pictures from the Paris motor showWatch Autocar's exclusive video of the Audi A7 Sportback in the studioWatch a 360-degree view of the Audi A7 from its Munich launch
The A7 Sportback is designed to fill a niche between the A6 and A8. It offers big-car interior packaging for four people, the practicality of a rear hatch, a sizeable boot and what Audi calls a ‘four-door coupé’ shape.
Packaging and design
The A7 is 4.97m long and 1.91m wide, which is 17cm shorter and 4cm narrower than the A8. But it sits 4cm lower than Audi’s luxury saloon, at 1.42m. At 2.91 metres, the wheelbase is around 8cm shorter than the regular A8’s, but longer than the current A6’s by a similar amount. It’s likely that the next generation of A6 will sit on the same platform.
The A7 was previewed by a concept at the Detroit show last year, and the production car sticks closely to the show model’s appearance. Its looks are dominated by a deep front grille, a low nose, narrow headlights, a sharp crease that runs along its flanks from nose to tail, and a bootline that tails off quickly, minimising the rear overhang. That last element, and a distinctive lip on the third side window, reference Audi’s 100 Coupé from the 1970s.
The concept’s mirrors, which protruded from the side of the door instead of the base of the A-pillar, have been retained — but the deep-set air intakes at the base of the front bumper have been toned down.
The production A7 has also gained a spoiler that’s integrated into the huge, complex rear hatch; the lip rises at motorway speeds in a manner similar to the units present on the TT and R8.
Audi’s design chief, Stefan Sielaff, told Autocar that his team had been determined to make the A7 look “a model apart” from the A6 and even the A8, development of which forced the A7 project to be held back slightly.
“We wanted to generate a high-end, premium feeling in the A7 that relates very strongly to the A8 in the design,” said Sielaff, “but we also wanted to make it a gran turismo. They are very different types of cars.”
He also confirmed that ideas from the A7, and the next-gen A6 that will follow it, could be introduced on a facelifted A8 before the next all-new generation of that car, due in the second half of the decade.
The A7 Sportback does without the A8’s aluminium spaceframe, but it does make extensive use of the metal in its body, including the doors, bonnet, hatch, front bulkhead and a crossmember in the boot. In two-wheel-drive form the A7 has a kerb weight of 1695kg. That’s over 100kg lighter than the car’s most obvious rival, the Mercedes CLS350 CDI.