- Max Speed
New? It looks a lot like the old one...
It's mid-life facelift time for the A7 Sportback, so this is a bit of detail work rather than an all-new model.
If you need a reminder, the A7 is a plush four-door coupe, based upon the A6 in the same way a 6-Series Gran Coupe branches from a BMW 5-Series. There's first-class seating for four and a humongous boot, aided by the practicality of a hatchback rather than a more restrictive saloon opening.
So what's new?
There's a handful of changes, but they're all notable for their subtlety. On the outside, the grille and bumpers are renewed while LED lights are now available upfront, complete with indicator lights that sweep rather than merely flash, like on the latest R8.
Inside sees minor improvements for the infotainment system. Audi's MMI setup is still one of the slickest on the market, and now gets new graphics and smartphone-style touchpad control.
Anything changed under the skin?
Engines and transmissions have also been refreshed. The CVT gearbox previously fitted at the lower rungs of the range is replaced by a far nicer dual-clutch ‘S-tronic' paddleshift unit, with an eight-speed ‘Tiptronic' auto still serving the most powerful engines.
Highlights from the engine range include a new entry-level 60mpg, 215bhp diesel model - named ‘Ultra' to fit with Audi's naming convention - while at the other end of the scale, the sporty S7 gets an extra 30bhp, its twin-turbo V8 now producing a healthy 444bhp. That's enough to hustle its two tonnes to 62mph in 4.6 seconds.
Which one should I buy?
The stonkingly torquey 3.0-litre BiTDI model - its twin-turbo V6 diesel producing 316bhp and 479lb ft - continues service, and is arguably a stronger real-world proposition than the S7.
But there's also a single-turbo version with 268bhp and 428lb ft that feels nearly as strong. It comes with the seven-speed S-tronic ‘box, which is more purposeful than the eight-speed auto when you want to take control with the little mouse-ear wheel-mounted paddles.
That's what we've been driving, and what a likeable thing it is. The engine is supremely strong across its rev range - it's hard to see many people driving it and craving an extra turbo - while at cruising speeds the A7 is exceedingly hushed. The incoming buzz of a motorcyclist resonates through the cabin far more than any noise from the A7 itself, which is a nice tick for road safety.
Audi claims a combined 54.3mpg, while CO2 emissions come in at a financially friendly 136g/km. Even with our enthusiastic right foot, the trip computer read 38mpg. With a little more care, something in the mid-40s ought to be readily achievable. In new SE Executive trim, it's also £6360 cheaper than its BiTDI brother.
An Audi that's good value for money?
Arguing a car that kicks off at £50,215 is ‘good value' isn't easy, especially when you can have this 268bhp engine in an A6 SE saloon for nine grand less. But it's easier to argue that it justifies a big spend. In an Audi range that veers between hits and misses, the A7 can surround itself in the company of the S1, R8 and A6 Avant.
It's a hit, then?
Yep. The A7 is an Audi free of misguided sporting pretensions, its steering light and simple and its ride supple. It's a remarkably easy-going thing to both traverse a congested city and munch big motorway miles in.
It still handles: it's no thriller, but grip is strong and it responds well if you wish to make haste on a road with a string of bends. But we'd argue few A7 diesel owners worry about such things, and it's everywhere else that this car feels strongest. It makes a very strong case for itself against its BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe and Mercedes CLS foes.
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