Mercedes-Benz 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 latest generation A6.
The CLS is a saloon and BMW’s 6 Series Gran Coupé is a coventional two-door coupé given a pair of rear doors both come with a boot that opens like any other saloon on the market. 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 percent 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 focused on interior upgrades and the inclusion of more technology. Only minor tweaks were made to the exterior with new pronounced air inlets and the rear bumper and diffuser being redesigned. Inside there was the inclusion of ambient LED interior lighting, heated front seats and electric lumbar support included to the A7 as standard, while the smartphone integration was added to the optional Techonology Pack.
The A7 range starts starts at a tempting-enough price and it’s relatively compact, consisting of a trio of V6 diesels – a 215bhp, 268bhp 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 efficiency-focussed 'Ultra' 3.0 TDI.
After being on the market for the best part of seven years, the A7 is entering its twilight years, as its replacement is being geared up for its arrival in 2018. Despite coming after the launch of the new Audi A8, the second generation A7 is being mooted as the car which will show the direction of Audi's future design language. While details remain scarce, we do know that the next big five-door coupé from Inglostadt will come with a full-electric model and be topped by two Audi Sport models - the S7 and the RS7. The latter set to breach the 600bhp mark from its 4.0-litre V8 engine, while the former will be downsized to a twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 which is set to punch out more than 450bhp.
But in the meantime, the burning question we have will endeavour to answer is: does the Audi A7 have any substance to go with its style?