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Car group tests

Audi A7 vs Porsche Panamera

Facelifted Audi A7 adds more style to luxurious, powerful package as it takes fight to Porsche Panamera

Buyers of high-class executive cars are spoilt for choice these days, and you don’t need to stick to the traditional four-door saloon norm if you want to stand out in the corporate car park.

The latest breed of exec models get sportier styling, and they don’t come much more racy than Audi’s A7 Sportback. It’s only been on sale for four years, but the brand has now launched a facelifted version, with new LED lights and efficient diesel power, as well as the ubiquitous quattro four-wheel-drive system. For the A7’s first test, we’re trying it in top-spec S line trim with 3.0-litre BiTDI twin-turbodiesel power.

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However, it will have to back up its racy looks with equally sporty handling to overcome its rival in this test – the Porsche Panamera Diesel. Like the Audi, the Panamera was given an update earlier this year, and its plush interior makes for relaxing progress. What’s more, Porsche’s motorsport know-how means this is an executive express that’s just as capable on a twisting back road as it is on a high-speed motorway cruise.

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However, the Panamera’s list price is almost £10,000 higher than the Audi’s. So, the question is: does the Porsche’s array of talents justify its higher cost, or has Audi done enough with its revisions for the A7 to emerge victorious?

Audi A7 review

Porsche Panamera review

Follow the links above to read individual reviews, and scroll down to find out the winner of this twin-test...

Head-to-head

Seating

Both cars feature roomy cabins, but only the Audi is a five-seater. Even so, its intrusive transmission tunnel makes the middle seat only really fit for occasional use.

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In contrast, the Porsche makes the best of its strict four-seater status. Each rear passenger gets a sports seat, while the transmission tunnel houses a lidded cubby, cup-holders, air-con controls and vents.

Spoilers

In order to retain their sleek looks and improve aerodynamics, both cars feature powered rear spoilers. The A7’s automatically rises at 80mph and lowers once you drops below 50mph, while the Panamera’s goes up at 75mph and down at 50mph. Both can be activated at any speed via dashboard buttons.

Options

Our contenders come with plenty of standard kit, but you can add lots of extras. For instance, our A7 had an eye-watering £14,310 of options, while the Porsche featured £11,054 worth. This figure included £429 for Bluetooth, which should surely be fitted as standard on a £65,000 car.

Verdict

1st place: Porsche Panamera

There’s not much to separate these two, as they both tick the luxury and refined cruiser boxes, but the Panamera edges ahead thanks to the way it drives. It has the same involving character that makes Porsche’s sports cars so good, with communicative steering and excellent handling. It also delivers a perfect balance of performance and low running costs, helping to make the Panamera Diesel the pick of the line-up.

2nd place: Audi A7

The A7 Sportback is a sporty-looking exec that’s also surprisingly practical, while cabin quality and comfort are on a par with the Porsche. There’s plenty of grip from the quattro four-wheel-drive system, too, and running costs are reasonable. However, while the A7 is rapid and refined on the motorway, it lacks the involving driving character of the Panamera and, as a result, it narrowly comes up short in this test.

Audi A7 vs Porsche Panamera: key specs

 Porsche Panamera DieselAudi A7 3.0 TDI S line quattro Tiptronic
On the road price/total as tested£65,634/£76,688£56,575/£70,885
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)£35,311/53.8%£25,911/45.8%
Depreciation£30,323£30,664
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£3,787/£7,574£3155/£6,310
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,903/£3,171£2,042/£3,403
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost48/£698/H/£20545/£615/G/£180
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£420/£550/£420£189/£375/£189
   
Length/wheelbase5,015/2,920mm4,974/2,914mm
Height/width1,418/1,931mm1,420/1,911mm
EngineV6/2,967ccV6/2,967cc
Peak power/revs296/4,000 bhp/rpm316/3,900 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs650/1,750 Nm/rpm650/1,400 Nm/rpm
Transmission8-spd auto/rwd8-spd auto/4WD
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel80 litres/sealant73 litres/space saver
Boot capacity (seats up/down)445/1,263 litres535/1,390 litres
Kerbweight/payload1,900/600kg1,895/535kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient12.0 metres/0.30Cd11.9 metres/0.29Cd
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (unlimited)/2yrs 3yrs (60,000)/3yrs 
Service intervals/UK dealers20k miles (2yr)/36Variable/121
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.6th/3rd12th/26th
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./starsN/AN/A
   
0-60/30-70mph5.7/5.2 secs5.1/4.5 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th2.6/3.7 secs2.4/3.0 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th/8th3.8/4.7/6.3 secs/N/A3.9/4.9/6.4 secs/N/A
Top speed/rpm at 70mph160mph/1,500rpm155mph/1,400rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph42.8/31.6/8.5m46.8/34.7/9.0m
Noise outside/idle/30/70mph64/49/63/67dB69/47/60/64dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range36.7/8.1/646 miles34.2/7.5/549 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined36.7/50.4/44.1mpg38.2/52.3/46.3mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined8.1/11.1/9.7mpl8.4/11.5/10.2mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket206/169g/km/29%221/162g/km/28%
   
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraEight/yes/yes/£473Six/yes/yes/£810*
Adapt damp/cruise/active cruise ctrl£1,116/yes/£1,589£2,000/yes/£1,330
Electric/leather/heated seatsYes/part/yesYes/yes/yes
Metallic paint/LED headlights£851/£1,907£655/yes
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/£224/yes/£429Yes/yes/yes/yes
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