Motoring

Audi A7 55 TFSI Sportback Review

The new Audi A7 Sportback has been revealed in Australia, with sleek new looks, technology and the availability of both petrol and diesel variants. It’s an impressive effort, one that follows on from the recently launched A8 flagship setting new benchmarks for interior quality. Chris Bowen attended the Australian launch in Brisbane and surrounds.

What is it?

This is the 2ndAudi A7 Sportback and essentially is a large five-door grand tourer with the increasingly common sloping rear roofline, or basically a squashed sedan at the rear. While capable of being a five-seater, it’s a far more comfortable arrangement to have just four onboard to soak up the sheer wonder of the high-tech interior.

It’s also the second Audi to debut its new numeric model naming system. With the line-up split into 45, 50 and 55 badges being joined by either the TFSI or TDI depending on what fuel it drinks. To get the new A7 Sportback into Australia quicker Audi decided to simply offer a basic or Premium Plus option, massively cutting down on multiple optional packages.

For now, the A7 Sportback will be restricted to the models with the 55 TFSI engines until 2019.

Behind the Wheel.

The new generation Audi interior found on the A8 and now A7 Sportback is the best in the world, in my opinion. It’s an absolute marvel of technology and features a design that blows everyone out of the water. The super high-tech cabin conveys an almost futuristic design, with a heavy focus on executing a digital feel. It’s almost like being wrapped in something that Apple would design.

The black panel architecture gives a modern lounge-like ambience, Audi’s MMI Touch Response system rids the cabin of old school rotary dials and control pads, while the best instrument display around, the virtual cluster remains.

There’s more of a driver focused feel to the car, as opposed to the A8. The designers were quick to point out that most of the lines inside the cabin point forward, giving you a constant sense of momentum.

The Audi quattro system comes as standard on the A7 Sportback 55 TFSI and as usual gives the car an almost infinite level of grip. This is a big car, with a now even longer wheel base. Initially I assumed the overall heft of the car would be felt when the roads started to tighten, but it simply shrinks around you behaving more like an A4 sedan.

When the Premium Plus pack is added the as tested TFSI 55 gained adaptive air suspension and 21-inch rims. Despite a gruelling drive program towards the Mount Nebo and Mount Glorious region west of Brisbane the big swoopy A7 hardly skipped a beat.

The ride is excellently cushioned and body control well contained, considering the not insignificant proportions. Only the keenest driver will desire a higher level of overall handling, we’re not talking about an all-out sports car here.

As is the norm with most Audi’s there’s a slight disconnect between driver and road. This is mainly down to the steering calibration, it’s not lifeless but it’s very assisted and clinical. A purist would feel a tad unwanted for example.

Technology.

Where do you start here! There are 39 individual safety systems and 22 radar and camera sensors. The car also offers rear-wheel-steering that will turn the wheels up to five degrees in the opposite direction to the front wheels under 60km/h. This is especially handy in carparks, helping to reduce the turning circle. Over 60km/h the wheels can turn up to two degrees in the same direction as the front for sharper high-speed cornering. The latter is hard to pick up on but given the sheer ability on show I assume it is adding something to the overall experience.

The micro engineering that has gone into the LED Matrix headlights is a wonder on its own. The construction of the light involves dozens of parts. Scarily, replacing both after a prang will cost north of $10,000.

Vital Stats

Our launch model featured a 3.0-litre turbo V6 matched to a seven-speed automatic. It produces 250kW/500Nm and will hit 100km/h in 5.3 seconds. The engine note is very mild, even when in Dynamic mode. I guess we will need to await the S7 or RS7 for some more bang out the back. Also notice the lack of obvious exhaust pipes, there seems to be a move towards not showing off tailpipes from Audi. After all, an EV future is fast approaching.

Price

Prices will kick off in 2019 at $113,900 for the 45 TFSI or an extra $6,500 for the Premium Plus package. The 50 TDI diesel model will be priced from $131,900 as will the petrol 55 TFSI that goes on sale shortly. The Premium Plus package for the latter two adds $8,000. Those fancy LED Matrix lights are an extra $2,500 and if you want Club Troppo on wheels why not splash out $11,700 on a 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system!

The only car at the launch, the 55 TFSI has a claimed fuel economy of 7.3L/100km. I averaged 10.9L/100km, but never use me as a benchmark!

EFTM Scoreboard.

]Some may find the rear portion of the Sportback a tad disconcerting, for mine it is from certain angles. But overall the car is an engineering masterpiece in terms of design, technology and performance. The Audi 55 TFSI gets an 8 out of 10 from me.

Audi A7 55 TFSI Sportback Review
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