Hyundai’s E-Class/5 Series rival looks very smart indeed. Pity it’s not for Europe
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The Top Gear car review:Audi A7
On the inside
Layout, finish and space
You arrive into the A7’s cabin and immediately think: “Whoops, I’ve boarded the wrong car. This is an A8.” All of the touchscreen technology and a large amount of the Blade Runner universe airport lounge ambience have been copy-pasted from Audi’s limousine. But there are some tweaks, to hint the A7 is a bit schportier, a bit more the machine you’d prefer to drive than be driven in.
The horizontal sweep of gloss black dash ends next to the touchscreen, instead of stretching across the cabin entirely. The main infotainment centre is angled slightly towards the driver. And there are prominent grab handles in the doors, instead of subtle cut-outs for your hands. In the A7 S-line the steering wheel has been rethought – same functions, fewer spokes. Subtle stuff, but it does make the A7 feel a little less statesmanlike. It’s a designer suit but with the top button undone and the cuffs rolled up.
So, those screens, then. Haptic feedback is Audi’s answer to operating vast panes of glass while remaining in control of 1,800kg of spaceship canal boat. So, like your smartphone, little pulses of vibration greet each tap of your fingertip, to register the action. It’s a more expensive sensation than an unanimated screen, and does help define what’s being selected. Take note, Range Rover Velar.
Is it as easy to operate eyes free as the last-gen MMI clickwheel? No, not yet. But with familiarity, it’s very slick. The menus are logical and friendly, and the graphics are exquisite. And being a new-age Audi, you can pretty much choose to ignore the main touchscreen if you’d like, and just cycle through nav, trip and music on the 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit instruments.
Obviously the material choice is tasteful, the build and finish millimetre-perfect, and the general ambience quite clinical and businesslike. Minimalism instead of richness. We’ll focus instead on what the A7 does differently.
Chiefly, that’s obviously to sacrifice headroom in the name of a rakish shape, right? Happily, nope. Headroom has increased a meagre 5mm versus the old A7, but regardless, this is easily commodious enough to recline three adults behind two adults, if you catch my drift. The new platform has carved out another 21mm of legroom, too, and the boot has remained exactly the same size as the last A7, but optimised to better suit golf bags.
And, a quick word of praise for Audi not skimping on the plushness in the cheap seats. Sometimes, luxury cars wow you with supple leathers and cool metals up front, only to cheekily swap in plastics in the back seat, because hey, won’t somebody think of the children? The sheer amount of convincing metal throughout the A7’s cockpit is incredible – don’t drive past any hospitals in it or you’ll get teleported into the MRI room. But even in the rear seat, the fillets of brushed aluminium, the touchscreen climate control and soft fittings continue to impress. That’s not cheap to do, and the A7 practically bleeds quality for it.