From £40,400
An Audi limo for those who like to drive as well as waft about in luxury

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.

See the test of the Audi A7 3.0 TFSI in action

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.

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Should I buy one?

If you want something that is distinctly not a saloon or estate, but also offers five-door practicality, high-end cabin quality and a decent steer this is certainly one of the best options.

It’s not perfect. In this guise it rides very well about 80 per cent of the time and is just okay or a bit bouncy for the rest of it, but which of the various suspension option you choose (there is air suspension as well as firmer steel springs available) can change all of that, and cabin refinement is acceptable rather than excellent.

But it’s been proven that there is an audience for sleek, coupe-like saloons and the second evolution of the car that started it - the Mercedes CLS – has also just been launched. Audi has given it some serious competition.

Audi A7 3.0 TFSI SE quattro

Price: £48,070; Top speed: 155mph (limited); 0-62mph: 5.6sec; Economy: 34.4mpg; CO2: 190g/km; Kerb weight: 1770kg; Engine: V6, 2995cc, supercharged, petrol; Power: 296bhp at 5250-6500rpm; Torque: 325lb ft at 2900-4500rpm; Gearbox: 7spd auto

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petrolheadinrussia 26 December 2010

Re: Audi A7 3.0 TFSI SE quattro

Audi have a knack of offering something that is one the face of it - elegant, even sexy and surely different. Yet they get panned constantly for unreliability, expensive to run (they use a copious amount of oil - like 1 litre per 1000 km which the manufactuerers will happily inform you is "within tollerences"). Such oil consumption is unacceptable for a "modern" engine/car.

This applies (oil consumption) to ALL their Q models (which consume in excess of 1.5litres of oil per 1000 kil) and the A6 - A 8 models. Yet they manage to shift the metal in amazing numbers - simply because they really do look appealing - especially to female buyers or the wifes/gf of male buyers.

Dan McNeil v2 24 December 2010

Re: Audi A7 3.0 TFSI SE quattro

Mr£4worth wrote:
The yanks used to say the S Type Jag looked like it was doing a dump.
In which case, the BMW X6 is the dump that dropped out of the S-Type's backside.

catnip 24 December 2010

Re: Audi A7 3.0 TFSI SE quattro

The rear of this car definitely reminds me of some other car, but irritatingly, I just can't place it.

Some late 80's Mitsubishi or something like that?