What is it?
There are some cars that have one very obvious focus - perhaps to be entertaining, or practical or comfortable. And there are those cars that attempt to do it all. This is definitely the latter, which initially makes for worrying news because very few cars manage it well.
But with some miles now covered on UK roads it’s evident that the new Audi A7 Sportback is one of the more accomplished of its slightly oddball breed.
We tested the petrol, V6 3.0 TFSI SE model, which comes as standard with Audi’s quattro chassis, seven-speed S-tronic auto ‘box and ‘drive-select’, which offers three different settings to alter steering, gears and throttle response.
What’s it like?
Riding on 19-inch alloys and standard steel springs (lowered by 10mm as a £410 option) it’s ride quality that is the really welcome news here. Though suffering from some firm damper compression at higher speeds, generally the A7 offers a settled and well-isolated ride quality.
Body roll is kept in check without any severe compromises to bump absorption, which translates into an appealing stability and pliancy even when cornering forces are involved.
And there are likely to be some strong cornering forces involved because, of all its duties as a limo-coupe crossbreed, driver reward is one of the elements that it manages best. It’s never close to a really thrilling drive, but it turns-in sweetly, balances its weight well and generally flows nicely down the average b-road.
A big part of the driver reward on offer in our test car came from the drivetrain. The 296bhp supercharged petrol motor is a delight to use. Its smooth-revving nature and subdued vocals suite the A7 Sportback perfectly, as does the automatic gearbox. It pulls strongly and offers decent amount of flexibility for the variety of duties that the A7 is likely to be used for. Plus, at 34.4mpg claimed combined it may not be as thirsty as many would assume.
What is less impressive is the drive select system. At no point in any of the environments that you would assume might bring to light the reason for ‘dynamic’ and ‘comfort’ settings, did either appear to offer any benefit over the default ‘auto’ setting. Most owners will leave it in that mode and forget that you can change it, and they’re better off that way.
So what of its abilities as soothing executive transport? Well, generally it feels like a sprightly A8 – which is exactly what it needs to feel like. Tyre roar is more intrusive than it should be, but it’s not a deal-breaker, and engine noise and wind flutter are both well suppressed but the cabin is as opulent as you can expect, with all the important luxuries included as standard. In every significant way it is an accomplished cruiser.
Head-room in the rear is slightly compromised, but if that mattered then you’d buy a standard saloon, and elsewhere the A7 makes a convincing job of being practical. Beneath its hatchback is a load bay that can swallow 535-litres of paraphernalia - only 25 litres off a BMW 5-Series Touring, and almost 100 litres more than the 5 GT.