From £55,8408
This 335bhp, turbocharged mild hybrid petrol version of the Mercedes-Benz CLS and BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo rival will be the first version to hit showrooms

Our Verdict

Audi A7 Sportback 2018 review hero front

Audi's latest attempt to wrest the luxury four-door coupé crown from the Mercedes-Benz CLS. Can slick design and advanced tech help it succeed in that task?

James Attwood, digital editor
7 February 2018

What is it?

This is the first petrol-engined version of the second generation Audi A7 Sportsback, which represents Audi’s latest attempt to topple the Mercedes-Benz CLS for honours in the tricky luxury grand touring coupe market.

Sharing the latest evolution of Audi’s MLB platform with the forthcoming A6 due later this year, the grand tourer is 5mm shorter than the previous model, albeit with a wheelbase that is 12mm longer.

While the 50 TDI we’ve also reviewed is expected to be the bigger seller of the two early engine options, the 55 TFSI seen here will be the first to go on sale (with the diesel following quickly after). As fans of Audi’s recently introduced new model naming system will know, the 55 designation indicates that car’s powertrain produces between 328 and 468bhp. In the case of this car we’re talking 354bhp, from a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6. As with the diesel, the engine (previously seen on the new A8) is complemented by a 48-volt belt alternator starter mild hybrid system, which can recover up to 12kW of energy (enough for 16bhp) when braking or coasting (it will automatically disengage the engine when coasting at speeds between 34 and 99mph).

The powertrain, which uses a 7-speed S tronic automatic gearbox, produces 369lb ft of torque at 1370-4500rpm. The engine also features a multi-plate clutch in place of a limited slip differential, and runs in two-wheel drive during standard running, switching on when the car’s various high-tech sensors and systems detect it’s necessary – or going to be necessary.

What's it like?

The new A7 Sportback has had a makeover to follow Audi’s new design language – it’s sleek and attractive, if not a revolutionary departure from what went before. Our test car came in top-level S line trim, which adds to special front and rear bumpers, side skirts and a few S line logos. It also adds HD Matrix LED headlights at the front, and ‘dynamic’ LED rear lights that run across the length of the boot.

Inside, the dashboard is dominated by the twin touchscreen MMI system – featuring 10.1in and 8.6in displays – and the 12.3in Virtual Cockpit digital instrument display. On top of the features covered in our review of the 50 TDI sport model here, S line trim interiors feature leather and Alcantara-covered sports seats.

The A7 Sportback takes much of the technology recently introduced on the flagship A8, including a raft of driver assistance features. And, as is customary with Audi, the optional equipment kit is extensive. Some of those fitted to our test car included the Bang & Olufsen 3D Advanced Sound System, a smartphone interface, phone charging box and a night vision display.

S line trim also features sport suspension (10mm lower than standard) and 20in wheels (the lower sport trim has 19in as standard), although our test car was also fitted with adaptive air suspension and 21in wheels.

It also came with Audi’s four-wheel-steering system, engineered to turn the rear wheels in the opposite direction as the front as low speeds to boost handing, and in the same direction at higher speeds to increase stability. It definitely inspired confidence: the A7 Sportback handled assuredly and responded well, although the combination of all the driver assistance systems did leave something of a disconnect between input and action, improved by playing around with the various drive modes.

The 55 TFSI engine had power in abundance, delivered smoothly and quietly in largely fuss-free fashion. In fact, it takes considerable effort, and use of the manual gears, in order to produce a stirring noise. But despite the appearance of the word ‘sport’ in its title, the engine response matched the handling dynamic: it’s best enjoyed as a relaxed (yet fiercely fast and capable cruiser) than a truly evocative responsive sports car.

A slight disappointment is that that cruising pleasure is tempered somewhat by a rougher than expected ride, even with the drive mode set to comfort. The 50 TDI version we also tested – which ran on smaller 20in tyres – was somewhat smoother, if still not as refined as you might expect. That said, as with the diesel version, this is a car that you could happily spend hours in covering large distances.

Should I buy one?

The vast bulk of first-generation A7 buyers opted for the diesel version, and that’s likely to be the same with this new version. And while it was occasionally rougher than this petrol model at lower speeds, we slightly preferred the extra character and torque response of the 50 TDI we also tested.

If you have a preference for petrol, though, this is still an eminently capable car, comfortable to spend time in and drive. The remaining question, of course, is how it will compare to the forthcoming Mercedes-Benz CLS – for the answer to that, we’ll have to wait for now.

Audi A7 Sportback 55 TFSI S line S tronic

Where South Africa On sale April 2018 Price £58,040 Engine 6cyls, 2995cc, turbocharged petrol, 48V MHEV Power 335bhp at 5000-6400rpm Torque 369lb ft at 1370-4500rpm Gearbox 7-speed automatic Kerb weight 1815kg Top speed 155mph 0-62mph 5.3sec Fuel economy 39.8mpg CO2 161g/km, 31% Rivals Mercedes-Benz CLS, BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo

Join the debate

Comments
8

8 February 2018

Dear Autocar,

Your accuracy regarding factual information and poor proof-reading continues to annoy...and if anything, is actually getting worse!!

Regarding this single article alone:

- "five-door coupe market": hmm, the Audi's two main protaganists, the 6 Gran Coupe and CLS, are actually four-door 'coupes'

- "20-inch tyres": think you might mean 20-inch wheels...

 - "S line trim also features sport suspension (10mm lower than standard) and 20in tyres (the lower sport trim has 19in as standard), although our test car was also fitted with adaptive air suspension and 20in tyres.": I assume you mean that the model tested actually had optional 21" rims as you later refer to the TDI model as having a smoother ride on its 20" rims...

Quite appalling to find so many mistakes in a single, short article...

And, subjectively, the Audi A7, despite generally liking their design ethos, has never been one of my favourite, because of that 'droopy' rear end, which continues with the new version.  Despite not being a particular fan of BMW, I think the 6 Gran Coupe is a masterpiece of design, although spec has to be carefully considered to ensure it does not come across as 'bling' which, unfortunately, many do...

DuncB

 

Dunc

8 February 2018

Hi Dunc,

Thanks for the comments. Yes, some errors missed in there, which have now been cleaned up, so thanks for raising. Never our intent, and always annoying when silly little errors get through. 

8 February 2018

...list the BMW 6-Series Gran Turismo as a rival (not - as you say Dunc - the Gran Coupe).

8 February 2018
For anything made by Audi that is not a SUV or R8 you can write the review before driving. Drives wooden, has a hard ride. Image over substance as it has been for the past 20 years.

8 February 2018

 I thought much the same like you, it was called ignorance, however having owned a A6 ulltra Avant for nearly four years the spread of ability this car has makes it hard for me to look at anyother marque.  It does sound like you've never actually owned one otherwise you would be lording over its reliability, efficiency (over 600 miles to a tank on a run), speed and quality.  The fact of the matter is most people who buy this class of car couldn't give a rats arse about handling finese or steering feedback. Of course their are times I wished I could get the tail out or feel the size of the tar granules through my steering wheel, but for most of the time, say 95% I couldn't fopr anything else.  Commentators on here who do complain probably will never get in to one of these cars unless they have a well healed uncle whos taken them out to lunch.  Yes perhaps not XF levels of ride quality but I have to say it is better then any M sport that I have previously owned and at least my head does not bounce off the headrests like it did in my previous M sport 5 and the new gen audi interiors really do knock socks off of anything else, this side of a Range Rover. 

yeah, the back just ran away from me

8 February 2018
V12smig wrote:

 I thought much the same like you, it was called ignorance, however having owned a A6 ulltra Avant for nearly four years the spread of ability this car has makes it hard for me to look at anyother marque.  It does sound like you've never actually owned one otherwise you would be lording over its reliability, efficiency (over 600 miles to a tank on a run), speed and quality.  The fact of the matter is most people who buy this class of car couldn't give a rats arse about handling finese or steering feedback. Of course their are times I wished I could get the tail out or feel the size of the tar granules through my steering wheel, but for most of the time, say 95% I couldn't fopr anything else.  Commentators on here who do complain probably will never get in to one of these cars unless they have a well healed uncle whos taken them out to lunch.  Yes perhaps not XF levels of ride quality but I have to say it is better then any M sport that I have previously owned and at least my head does not bounce off the headrests like it did in my previous M sport 5 and the new gen audi interiors really do knock socks off of anything else, this side of a Range Rover. 

I chose both a 3 Series and a Merc C class over an A4 in the past. No difference in reliability and the other 2 were nicer to drive and more comfortable. Audi's are dull and as you state driven by people who don't care about driving. You boast about a long range (you are aware any fuel efficient car with a large tank can do that) and a nice interior .... fair enough. But you can get that from a Passat estate or a Skoda Superb estate. Yet you spent shed loads more. Image over substance is choosing the much more expensive Audi over equally capable VAG cars. I chose mine because I like driving and not feeling smug!

8 February 2018

I loved everything about this car, Sporting a sharp new outside plan, it is extremely amazing. Audi is always my favorite car. I wisho write something about this car on my blog. 

My website: https://buyessays.us

9 February 2018

Makes a change from the usual boring Audi grey....

Steam cars are due a revival.

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