Vijay Pattni27 July 2010

New Audi A7 Sportback revealed

Audi takes the wraps off its swoopy four-door four-seat A7 to rival the Merc CLS

Audi A7 Sportback

UPDATE: 5.25pm

On Monday night I was in a modern art museum in Munich - the  Pinakothek der Moderne Munchen, if you must know  - to see the world unveil of the new Audi A7. It was a glitzy and glammy and super-stylish event and media from all over the world were there in droves to see a white sheet taken off a complex bit of machinery.

It's a niche car, alright, but it's not that nichey - you could argue the successful Mercedes CLS has been filling it for years, and big coupe-like four door ‘saloons' like the Jaguar XF and Porsche Panamera are right there as well. 

This car will appeal to anyone considering a Jaguar, which is exactly what Audi wants. It's low, sleek and big. It has a hatchback and plenty of room inside, despite looking like a coupe. It runs on the next A6's chassis, which is part of the same modular platform that the A8 sits on, along with the A4, A5 and even Q5 - very cleverly designed, obviously, and cost-effective as well.

What I like about this shape is not the details, which are interesting in themselves, but the overall stance. It sits very low and squat, and looks extremely purposeful and aggressive from all angles. Audi is really finding its mojo with styling now, and I can't remember a more Audi-ish Audi than this one.

I asked Audi's Board Member for Technical Development, Michael Dick, whether or not he's hard at work on an S7 or RS7 and he wouldn't be drawn - though he did smile a bit, because he couldn't help it. The last thing I said to him, actually, was ‘so do you think the twin-turbo V10 from the RS6 would be the best engine for the new RS7?' and he said ‘I cannot comment on that right now' in a manner that suggested the line of questioning was over. Maybe I asked the question once too often, but you can't blame me - imagine this big, low, sleek monster with wider track and arches and gigantic wheels and a big V10 in the nose. For me, that right there is the best Audi in the world. If they make it. (Which they will). 

Bill Thomas

10.00am

This is the new A7 - Audi's giant coupe/saloon-shaped jousting pole set to battle with the Mercedes CLS.

As an instrument to perform automotive jousting, you will agree it looks pretty cool, sticking rather closely to the concept we drove last year.

See more Audi A7 Sportback pics

The big Audi is packaged neatly between the A6 and A8, providing big car space - for four - and hatchback practicality, much like the A5 Sportback. Only bigger.

The A7 will be launched with four V6 engines - a 2.8-litre and supercharged 3.0-litre petrol with 201bhp and 295bhp, and a pair of diesels, the more powerful of which produces 241bhp and 369lb ft of torque.

The petrol models will come with a seven-speed S-tronic auto ‘box and Quattro four-wheel drive only, and means the 3-litre A7 hits 0-62mph in 5.6 secs before hitting a top speed of 155mph.

Later on this year Audi is expected to deploy its heavy war-horse to lance the CLS into capitulation with the range-topping RS7. No word on engine spec, but Audi has a range of firecrackers in its stable, including the 5.2-litre twin-turbo V8.

We're on the launch of the new A7 so check back for more updates. But in the meantime, which would you prefer - this or the CLS?

Vijay Pattni

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