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Engine options, top speed, acceleration and refinement

The redesigned 3.0 TDI in the Audi A7 certainly provides the effortlessly authoritative thrust implied by the car’s looks, the 268bhp version delivering its 427lb ft torque peak from just 1250rpm. Couple that to an effective seven-speed transmission and all-wheel drive and you have a satisfyingly fast, secure car.

It’s not quite as brisk as Audi claims, though, our review car needing 6.1sec to strike 60mph, which is slightly adrift of the 5.7sec Audi claims for the blast to 62mph. Either way, this is still rapid, and with seven gears at the dual-clutch transmission’s disposal, the A7 is an effective overtaker, too, needing just 4.0sec to bound from 50 to 70mph. In fact we put this theory to the test against the equally brisk Alpina D3 Touring.

The brakes fade quickly on the track, but it’s unlikely to be a problem on the road

The lower-powered diesel is still reasonably swift, Audi claiming a 0-62mph time of 7.4sec

On a much pickier level, this mid-range version of the 3.0 TDI is not quite as sweet a spinner as the 350 d motor in the Mercedes CLS, although that’s only apparent if you work it hard in manual paddle-shift mode. Most of the time it’s an impressively subdued companion.

And a satisfyingly economical one. We turned in 31.4mpg on test, which isn’t bad for a car of this weight and performance potential. More than 40mpg is entirely possible if it’s driven less energetically. If economy is uppermost in your mind, though, we'd recommend the 215bhp diesel instead.

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As well as an inherently more economical V6, its frugality is helped by a start-stop system coupled to the DSG transmission, although it appears to kill the engine less often than for cars with a manual transmission. The transmission itself generally changes ratios with flawless precision, although the odd tremor can surface. The BiTDI version, is ballistically quick and sounds far better than it ought to, however, if economy is what you have in mind that sticking with a single-turbocharged version is imperative.