Anybody paying for the privilege of putting a luxury four-door coupé on their driveway should have to make scant concession about ride.
Unfortunately, that is exactly what will be required if you find yourself enchanted by the design, technology and general desirability of the second-generation A7.
Our test car undoubtedly rode more smoothly than it might otherwise have thanks to relatively small, 19in wheels and was impressively quiet at a cruise, but a simple inability to adequately filter the impact of potholes and threadbare road surfaces is disappointing and quickly becomes a source of frustration.
The primary ride is better, although we would still expect greater pliancy and there’s an odd resonance transmitted into the cabin at cruising speeds. Moreover, our experience of models equipped with air suspension suggests these are problems that cannot be solved simply by spending additional money on specification. It is as if Audi has forgotten the UK lacks a network of glass-smooth autobahns.
Along an appropriate stretch of road, the A7 can disguise its dimensions creditably well, changing direction with a dispassionate, sure-footed ease that results in road speed entirely at odds with the lack of drama in the cabin. Dry weather traction seems absolute and, although it didn’t rain during this road test, there’s little reason to suspect Audi’s quattro hardware wouldn’t provide similarly immense security underfoot during more inclement conditions.
On the tortuous Hill Route at Millbrook Proving Ground, the A7 felt just as large all-wheel-drive Audi models almost always do: every inch its size but also resolutely secure. Through medium-speed corners, this chassis will often take a promisingly rear-biased stance, although it’s merely a veneer of dynamism and asking any more of the car results in gentle but persistent understeer.
Indeed, entry into corners is dependable but lethargic, owing to the steering’s blunt response off-centre, and traction is unbreakable when powering out. If the A7 impresses in any particular regard, it is its tight body control, which is such that both lateral and vertical movements are kept well in check.
With such adhesion, the A7 can lean hard on its passive Sports suspension set-up and is resistant to excess roll in doing so. Were the A7 to entertain and provide better competition for the CLS as a driver’s car, Audi would first need to address the steering, which is obstinately light and lifeless and during the early stages of its travel is geared too slowly to feel satisfactorily responsive.