What is it?
Audi has seen the success of the CLS and - whisper it - Panamera, and now it wants a bit of the action itself. Enter the A7 Sportback.
The A7, particularly in four-wheel-drive guise, is an easy car in which to make unruffled progress. Though the torque distribution is slightly rear-biased, it's impossible to provoke the A7 into any sort of tail-wagging antics: you'll only find a near-inexhaustible supply of grip, just the merest hint of body roll through even the quickest corners and, at the very limit, gentle understeer.
Avoid the 20-inch ‘S-Line' alloys and refrain from clicking the adaptive dampers into the knobbliest mode, and the A7 doesn't ride too badly. We'd guess it won't tackle smashed-up UK tarmac with the fluency of the Jag XF, but it's less brittle than most sporting Audis. However, it isn't a whole lot of fun. It doesn't give much back to the driver: the steering, though sharp, feels artificial, the chassis erring on the side of inert caution.
The 245bhp, 3.0-litre diesel is the best of the all-V6 engine line-up - there's a lower-powered version of the same engine (only available with a CVT gearbox - avoid) and a pair of petrols: a 204bhp, 2.8-litre unit and a supercharged 3.0-litre. The latter's essentially a detuned version of the S4's engine and, though quick, isn't rousing enough to justify the premium over the quicker diesel.
On the inside
Audi makes some of the best cabins in the business, and this is one of the finest, easily approaching A8 levels of luxury. The optional layered wood trim is reminiscent of something from the budget end of the Ikea catalogue, but otherwise the cabin is beyond reproach.
As well as the expected airbags and traction control it has the option of night-vision cameras, a self-parking system, lane assist and Pre-Sense, which prepares the car in the event of an imminent accident.
Unsurprisingly, it's the 3.0 TDI that's the winner here. Its combined fuel economy figure is an astonishing 53.3mpg while 139g/km of C02 puts it in the 19% company car tax bracket.