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REVIEW – Audi A7 Sportback 50 TDI Sport

Editor-in-chief, Senior Reviewer


Audi A7 Sportback 50 TDI Quattro Sport S-Tronic
  • Exterior Styling
  • Interior Finish
  • Engine / Performance
  • Ride / Handling
  • Economy
  • Practicality
  • Equipment
  • Value For Money
4

Summary

The new Audi A7 Sportback has sweeping lines and pillarless doors, bringing coupe styling to a large, executive car. If only the ‘Sport’ model looked more sporty. Inside, the A7 is superb: premium materials, stylish design and brimming with technology. With a powerful 50 TDI engine and Quattro all-wheel drive, this A7 ate up the miles. The A7 50 TDI Sport isn’t the best value. We’d have the 55 TFSI S-Line for a couple of grand more.


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Exterior Styling

Let’s get one thing straight from the off: the Audi A7 Sportback is an enormous car. It’s a few centimetres short of 5-metres long, giving off a big presence.

In truth the A7 Sportback hides its size pretty well. Sleek lines and the coupe bodystyle help to do this. In addition the bonnet is wide, and relatively low, which somewhat masks length.

Looking at the A7 Sportback head-on, you could be forgiven for thinking our test car was in fact an undercover police car. There are two radar sensors, and Audi has stuck them in the front grille. They not only look like they could be hidden strobe lights, but are also unsightly.

There’s no fancy bodykit on the ‘Sport’ model, but you do get signature LED daytime running lights and real ventilation holes in either front corner.

From the side profile, pillarless doors steal the show. They’re just so cool. The standard wheels are 19-inches in diameter, but actually look small in the arches of the A7 Sportback.

The wheel design is just a little on the plain side. Put it this way, the enormous 6-piston brake calipers hiding behind the alloys were more interesting to look at. There are plenty of alternative wheels to choose from, but they won’t come cheap!

At the rear, the lights extend right across the tailgate. A subtle spoiler hides in plain sight. It makes an appearance above 75mph, or you can raise it manually. There are no exhausts on show, but the bumper features silver trim which somewhat mocks them.

There’s no denying the A7 Sportback has sleek lines, but the Sport model just lacks the kerb appeal we’d have hoped for. S-Line or Vorsprung models are a lot more visually appealing from the outside.

Interior Finish

Open one of those pillarless doors and step inside the A7 Sportback, and it’s a different story altogether.

Any blandness from the Sport’s exterior is completely gone. This is one of our favourite cabins of 2019: oozing style and class.

The seats may be ‘standard’ – sports seats are an option – but they are finished in a premium leather with a nice pattern stitched into the base and backrest. Like the exterior lines, they are sleek, and are fitting of the A7 Sportback.

There’s not a lot to say about the Virtual Cockpit other that’s not been said before. It’s one of the best digital instrument clusters on the market. With full-screen Google Earth map in front of the driver, it’s a show piece too.

The new A7 Sportback features a dual-touch centre console. On the upper screen, the usual array of radio, media, phone etc. On the lower screen, climate and driver aids are easily accessed.

Then there’s the dashboard itself. It’s a split-level design, with the air vents at the top and a prominent finisher at the bottom.

Despite the prominent ‘ledge’ on the dashboard it manages to look slim, which makes for a greater sense of space up front. The Quattro badge takes pride of place on the passenger side, and rightfully so.

The interior is in no way monotonous; made up of a wide variety of high-quality materials. There’s plenty of different colours and textures, and the build quality feels of the exceptional quality you’d expect from Audi.

Above all this is a cabin you want to spend time in. Anyone I took out in the car was vastly impressed with it. And why wouldn’t they be? With such a modern, tech-oriented design the A7 feels fresh and current.

Engine/Performance

Our test car arrived in the entry-level trim – although in truth there’s nothing ‘entry-level’ about the A7 Sportback. Nevertheless, what lay under the bonnet was one of the best engines available in the A7 range.

Called the 50 TDI, it’s a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 diesel unit that incorporates 48V mild-hybrid technology. And what a gem it is.

Power is a respectable 286PS, and torque of 620Nm is enough to stop the earth rotating. There’s an 8-speed tiptronic auto box, and as with all great Audis the A7 Sportback has its power sent to all four wheels via a Quattro all-wheel drive system.

The 50 TDI is remarkably refined. In the well-insulated cabin you can barely hear it most of the time. Listen carefully and there’s not an iota of rattly diesel-ness, but a delightful undertone of V6 howl.

Equipped with this engine, the A7 Sportback can get its skates on. The dash from 0-62mph is dealt with in a mere 5.7 seconds, and the top speed is limited to 155mph.

So on the one hand you have a rather punchy, powerful engine, capable of hauling this big car around at speed. Yet if you select Eco or Comfort on the Audi Drive Select, it’s calm and refined: happy to plod along on the motorway in blissful silence.

Overtaking is effortless. Most of the time it doesn’t even need to drop a cog thanks to the vast amount of torque.

You don’t really notice the 48V mild hybrid system, but that’s kind of the point. It does give an initial boost when sudden acceleration is requested.

For those of a petrol disposition, there’s the 55 TFSI. It’s essentially the same 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 found in the S5, but with a slightly lesser 340PS. And it’s cheaper than the 50 TDI.

Ride/Handling

When it comes to handling and performance, this A7 Sportback is a somewhat mixed bag. There are some things it does incredibly well, and others where you’d expect more.

Let’s start with the good. Those 19-inch alloys might not look the most interesting, but with a bit more rubber around them than the 20-inch or 21-inch options they do improve ride comfort.

On a long motorway drive the A7 Sportback is relaxing. Despite this being the ‘Sport’ model the standard suspension feels more set up towards being comfortable and forgiving. This is probably appropriate, given the type of driving most A7s will undertake.

The aforementioned 6-piston front brakes are a force to be reckoned with. Stamp on the brake pedal and your face will end up all over the windscreen. Given the amount of power available with the 50 TDI, and the speeds this 1,880kg car is capable of, that’s reassuring.

The steering weight is adjusted depending on the drive mode selected, and you can create your own individual setup to best suit your needs. We liked the ‘Dynamic’ setting which gave the steering a nice, weighty feel.

Now the not so good bit. We said the suspension felt more geared towards comfort. Throw an A7 Sportback into a corner and you’ll see what we mean.

The front end is heavy, with a big V6 diesel trying to push the car on. And the standard suspension struggles to cope with this, resulting in some rather unattractive body roll.

There is a solution: the optional Suspension with Damping Control. This is a less-compromised setup, with distinct characteristics for each option: Dynamic and Comfort at each end of the spectrum.

Our complaint? That on a £55,000 car this should be standard. Because the standard suspension doesn’t do the A7 Sportback justice.

Economy

It was a pleasant surprise to find that this big, executive car with a powerful V6 diesel is economical. There’s a lot of technology to help this.

The A7 Sportback has start/stop technology. With the 48V mild hybrid technology on the 50 TDI it will cut the engine before you come to a complete stop, allowing those few extra metres of fuel-free travel.

There’s a preset ‘Eco’ drive mode, in which the Tiptronic gearbox becomes eager to hunt out higher gears and make use of the mountain of torque available at low revs. Throttle response is backed off too, making gentler acceleration easily attainable.

The result is a combined 37.7mpg on the WLTP cycle. If that’s not impressive enough for a car like this, then the fact that this figure can be somewhere in the mid-forties on a gentle motorway cruise should do the trick.

CO2 emissions are 147g/km when converted to NEDC-equivalent standards, which are used for VED purposes.

First-year VED on registration is a mere £210 – easily lost in the list price of an Audi A7 Sportback. Subsequent years’ fall foul of the VED surcharge due to the car costing more than £40,000. The standard £140 gets £320 a year added.

As annoying as the surcharge is, it will affect all the rivals of the A7 Sportback – such as the BMW 6-Series or Mercedes-Benz CLS. Furthermore, anybody who leases their vehicle won’t notice, because the lease company usually pays the VED.

Practicality

With the A7 Sportback having such a large wheelbase, legroom is in generous supply. I tend to sit relatively close to the steering wheel, so the rear footwell behind my driver’s seat was cavernous. But no matter how far back the front seats go, there will be enough legroom for tall adults in the back.

It’s best to think of the A7 Sportback as a comfortable 4-seater. The middle seat in the back is hampered by the transmission tunnel. Any occupant has to sit with their legs either side of it, and this is neither flattering nor comfortable.

Also a factor is that sloping roofline. Legroom may be generous, but headroom is less so. I found it plentiful, but those 6ft and above may not agree.

The boot capacity is 535 litres. The load area is long and wide, but lacks height at the rear-most end due to the sloping tailgate. That being said you wouldn’t struggle to get a few suitcases in there, and the hatchback tailgate provides a large opening to make loading and unloading easy.

To live with, the A7 Sportback is delightful. This is mostly due to the cabin being a place you want to spend time in, but also because the Audi is a car that eats up mile after mile. You could drive from one end of the country to the other, and still arrive as bright and fresh as if you’d popped to the local supermarket.

And even though the A7 Sportback has boat-like length, parking isn’t a problem. There’s plenty of glass, making for good visibility. For extra peace of mind parking system plus – which is front and rear parking sensors – let you know if you’re getting too close to anything.

Equipment

Our Audi A7 Sportback was the entry-level ‘Sport’ trim, but it feels wrong to call this car ‘entry-level’. Delving into the standard specification shows you why.

LED front and rear lights are standard, including full-LED headlights and the distinctive wrap-around rear LED light strip. The retractable rear spoiler features on all A7s, as do electrically-adjustable, heated and folding door mirrors.

Privacy glass is an optional extra, but you do get a windscreen with acoustic glazing, and the side and rear windows have heat-insulating glass.

Inside you get leather seats, electric front seats with driver’s side memory function, heated front seats and a 40:20:40 split-folding rear bench.

To avoid arguing with the Missus about temperature, the A7 Sportback features dual-zone climate control. Further practicality is added by the electric tailgate, keyless go, electric parking brake and rear-view camera.

The multimedia offering is enviable. The dual touch screen – 10.1-inch top and 8.6-inch bottom – is a masterpiece and is sure to wow friends and family. You also get the 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit, so the A7 Sportback feels at the cutting edge of technology.

There’s a DAB radio, voice recognition, navigation system, smartphone interface (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), USB connectivity and wireless charging pad. The sound system itself is impressive too: 10 speakers including subwoofer, making you want to crank up the volume when your favourite song comes on.

Lastly the safety equipment is worth a mention. Audi Pre-sense front monitors for potential collision hazards, and can warn the driver or even apply the brakes in an emergency situation. Lane departure warning and assistance provides corrective assistance to prevent lane-wandering.

Cruise control with speed limiter is standard, whilst adaptive cruise control can be added as an optional extra.

Value For Money

The A7 Sportback range starts from £48,860 for a 40 TDI Sport, and goes right up to £79,385 for a 50 TDI Vorsprung. And that’s before you even consider the options list.

Our test car was on some strange middle ground. The Sport model is entry-level, but the 50 TDI is the most expensive available in the range. So the starting price for a 50 TDI Sport is £56,985 OTR.

There is no question that the 50 TDI is a gem of an engine, probably the one most suited to the A7 Sportback. But the Sport model lacks the kerb appeal I’d expect of a near-£60,000 car.

For similar money you could get an S-Line with a 45 TDI engine. Stretch to £59,770, and you can have a 55 TFSI S-Line. Much more visually-appealing exterior, and equally interesting engine.

The 55 TFSI has 340PS, capable of going from 0-62mph in 5.3 seconds. What’s more, being a V6 it will benefit from an enjoyable soundtrack, no matter how subtle it is.

When it comes to Audi and options, you can spend £1,200 or you can spend £12,000. It’s entirely your choice.

Some options seem good value. £800 for a Bang & Olufsen premium sound system doesn’t seem bad. It was fitted to our test car, and was very impressive.

Different grades of leather cost £950 or £1,350, and sports seats are £400. If you want to add heated outer rear seats that’s another £400.

The Comfort and Sound Pack will undoubtedly be a popular option. For £1,895 you get 360-degree surround camera, the aforementioned B&O sound system, extended multi-coloured LED interior lighting and keyless entry.

Just be careful, £400 here and £800 there seems good value individually, but can soon add up to a few grand overall.

Facts and Figures

Engine 3.0-litre, V6 turbocharged diesel with 48 volt mild hybrid system
Max power 286PS at 3,500-4,000rpm
Max torque 620Nm at 2,250-3,000rpm
Drivetrain 8-speed tiptronic transmission, Quattro all-wheel drive
0-62mph 5.7 seconds
Top speed 155mph
Fuel tank size 63 litres
Fuel consumption 37.7 mpg combined, WLTP
CO2 emissions 147 g/km NEDC equivalent
Kerb weight 1,880kg
Towing capacity 2,000kg braked / 750kg unbraked
Luggage capacity 535 litres
NCAP rating 5 stars
Base price £56,985
Price as tested £61,335
Company website www.audi.co.uk/models/a7/a7-sportback.html

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