Audi A7 Sportback review
Sleek styling and hatchback practicality set the Audi A7 Sportback apart from the usual executive saloon car suspects
If there are any gaps left in the car market, you can bet that Audi will be the first company to fill them. It has a car for nearly every occasion, and the A7 Sportback aims to combine the prestige appeal of the A6 saloon with the styling of a sleek coupe and practicality of a regular hatchback. It comes with a choice of potent petrol and diesel engines, and the option of quattro four-wheel drive. There are various specs and trim levels to choose from, but SE cars are your best bet as they get a good level of standard kit do without the crashy S line suspension.
Our choice: A7 3.0 TDI (204) quattro S tronic SE
Audi isn't famous for producing truly beautiful cars, but the A7 Sportback stands out, thanks to its large dimensions and low-slung bodywork. Its front end has a familiar Audi appearance, but the swooping roofline and sharply chopped-off tail give the A7 Sportback the look of a rakish coupe rather than a sensible saloon. If you want to stand out from the executive crowd, the A7 Sportback is the perfect solution, and the interior is one of the finest Audi efforts yet. The dashboard looks great, is logically laid out and finished to the highest standards with top quality materials. Sporty S line and Black Edition models look even better thanks to huge 19-inch alloys, lowered suspension, more purposeful bumpers and racy side sill extensions.
With a potent range of diesel and petrol engines to choose from, raw performance won't disappoint. The 3.0 TFSI petrol engine comes with the four-wheel drive quattro drivetrain, but the punchy diesel engines are the best buys, and the entry-level 201bhp 3.0 TDI is available with front-wheel drive. This powerplant is also available in more powerful 242bhp and 309bhp tunes and quattro all-wheel drive, but whichever engine you choose, the A7 Sportback is a capable cruiser with lots of grip, precise steering and a quiet cabin. All models feature Audi Drive Select to help fine-tune the driving experience, but the A7 Sportback isn't the most engaging drive. The firmer suspension fitted to S line and Black Edition models can make for a more enjoyable drive but has the ability to severely compromise ride comfort, making longer journeys a chore.
The Audi A7 Sportback hasn't been put through the rigours of a full Euro NCAP test, but don't let that put you off. Front, side and curtain airbags are fitted as standard, as is electronic stability control and a tyre pressure monitoring system. Audi Side Assist, Active Lane Assist, Night Vision Assistant and Adaptive Cruise Control are all on the options list. The A7 Sportback has yet to appear in our Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, but Audi is a regular in the top 10 of our overall manufacturer chart.
This isn't usually an executive car strong point, but the A7 Sportback is no ordinary executive car. Its unusual hatchback design means it benefits from genuinely impressive interior dimensions. With the rear seats in place you get a big 535-litre boot, but if you fold them flat it can hold 1,350 litres of luggage. Rear legroom is generous and there is enough room for three adults to sit in reasonable comfort across the back. Buyers can opt to delete the centre headrest and seatbelt at no extra cost, but this doesn't include individual rear seats like you get in the Porsche Panamera or Mercedes CLS.
Company car drivers will be disappointed to see that Audi hasn't decided to fit its efficient and punchy 2.0-litre TDI diesel to the A7 Sportback. As a result, the cleanest and most cost effective model is the two-wheel drive 3.0 TDI, which produces CO2 emissions of 135g/km and has claimed economy of 55.4mpg. A high list price makes the A7 a costly company car choice, but standard kit includes dual zone air-conditioning, sat-nav, xenon headlamps and leather upholstery. Used values are strong by prestige car standards - most examples will still be worth 50 per cent of their new price after three years and 36,000 miles. Showroom deals will be limited, but all-inclusive servicing plans and extended warranties can help keep running-costs down.