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China-only saloon variant of the Audi A7 Sportback will never be sold here. Is that a good or bad thing?

A China-only car made by the SAIC Volkswagen joint venture, the new Audi A7 L is ostensibly a saloon version of the Audi A7 Sportback.

While it does retain some of the five-door A7's sportiness, in many ways it’s a distinct model and was inspired by the Prologue concept car of 2014.

The largest Audi produced in China, it slots size-wise in between the locally produced long-wheelbase version of the Audi A6 and the imported Audi A8.

Our test car was an Edition One, from a run of 1000 to mark the launch of the car.  

The A7 L is a well-proportioned saloon, and its good looks are enhanced on the Edition One by the exclusive 21in RS wheels and teal paint.

Inside, the dashboard and set-up are instantly recognisable to drivers of large Audi saloons.

A mid-mounted touchscreen with haptic feedback controls most functions and there's a lower-mounted screen for climate control.

On the Edition One, the seats get heating only, doing without cooling or a massage function. They do, however, get Valcona leather in an exclusive coffee hue. Equipment omissions are surprising: there's no wireless phone charging and the only USB ports available are Type C. 

Due to the grey headlining, the rear seems rather dingy. Leg room is unsurprisingly good but, due to the sloping roofline, head room is at a premium. Anyone over 6ft tall is likely to have problems.

Audi a7l driving rear3

While the rear bench can accommodate three, the deep centre-tunnel eats into the middle passenger’s leg space.

The boot is cavernous, though, plus it contains an increasingly rare spare tyre.

The rear wheels steer by up to 5deg, which helps with the handling, although given the car’s 5076mm length, it can still be a handful in tight parking spots with alarms blaring in all directions.

The low seating stance suggests sporty handling, and while the A7 L does have a reasonable turn of speed, especially in Dynamic driving mode (aided further by paddle shifters), it's no RS.

It's more suited to being a cruiser, with air suspension giving it a generally cossetting ride. 

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A 48V system makes this car a mild hybrid, but the integration of this technology seems problematic. After you come to a standstill, the engine often turns on again as soon as you release the brake pedal. 

Audi a7l interior

The Edition One seems to be largely geared towards image. 'Edition One' is even beamed onto the ground when you open the doors. What it lacks, though, is a lot of equipment that would make the A7 L easier to live with.

Some of the few useful additions over lower-spec versions are the head-up display and the Bang & Olufsen sound system. Items like adaptive cruise control remain options, putting the car at a severe disadvantage against Chinese premium EV rivals, not only in terms of equipment but performance as well.

That the A7 L is currently only a mild-hybrid and not a plug-in hybrid also doesn’t hold well in the market.

Mark Andrews

PRICES & SPECS

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Monza71 14 October 2022

I have a current-shape A7 3.0 Quattro. It is a superb long distance cruiser with an excellent ride quality and is pretty quick as well, with the more powerful 50-series power train.

The interior is just about the best of any similar quality car as are the touch screens. I have no buts to declare, none at all.

Why anyone would want to swap the incredibly useful hatchback for this version with a boot is quite beyond me. It is the one feature that sets the A7 apart from similar BMW and Mercedes coupes.

 

Monza71 14 October 2022

PS : on a run down to Italy in June, I got 49mpg giving a range of 625 miles and a "recharge" time of 3 minutes.

Why would anyone spend £100,000 plus on a Taycan or Audi eTron GT ? 

Peter Cavellini 10 October 2022

Yep, like a broken Pencil, why have all that more room inside? , but the rear seat middle passenger hasn't got a proper Seat?

Sulphur Man 10 October 2022

A review of an existing Audi, with very niche appeal, which will never be sold in the UK. 

Beyond pointless.