Audi’s executive bruiser

After driving the Audi A1 (Audi, size small) I jumped straight into an A7.  It is described by Audi as a large coupé.  The A7 is in fact a sizeable five door, four seat hatchback, designed on the forthcoming A6 platform.  Looking at the market, it sits side-by-side with the Mercedes Benz CLS in terms of cost and real estate but is quite different in looks and execution.  BMW’s 5 Series GT is probably the next nearest contender but it doesn’t come close in terms of aesthetics.

The A7 is handsome and there are some clever styling details on the front wing (with a hint of early TT) to hide the sheer size of the shell.  Despite a long overhang at the back, the definition of the rear bumper lessens the visual weight.  In fact, there is more than just a little Jaguar XF about it – which is no bad thing.  The single item which seems unnecessary is the rear spoiler which rises at speed.  I can’t imagine it makes a noticeable difference at (almost) legal speeds and it looks cheap; when elevated, it sits on spindly hinges.

The model here is the 3.0 litre SE Quattro 245 PS, with S tronic gearbox.  This is an extremely competent car.  On the road, it is very easy to pilot and amazingly sure-footed, the all wheel drive making light work of the slightly damp roads.  For its size, it fair shifts, too.  At about two tonnes, 0-62 mph in 6.4 seconds is very respectable.  This car also comes in just under the magic 160 g/km CO2, importantly allowing it entry onto many company car lists.

The driving position is very adaptable and the seating is excellent – in fact, I’d say it almost rivals the older Saabs – a true complement indeed.  The trim on this car is a little bland; a darker option would have been more imposing.  My only criticism of the driving experience is the limited foot room around the accelerator pedal, even for modest size 10s.  Shortening or offsetting the brake pedal would resolve this easily.

Like most new, high specification models, the A7 has a colossal number of controls and it is always a difficult task to site every single switch or button in an intuitive place – or indeed provide enough detail for the casual driver to understand the meaning of each.  It is also a balance of what goes on show against being hidden in a menu somewhere.  The dashboard is on the cluttered side – contrasting with the clean exterior lines.  In fact, neither I nor the kind lady from Audi could determine how to activate the head-up display.   

I wrote the review of the A1 straight away.  It was easy: I could understand exactly why someone might buy one.  Elegant and competent though the A7 is, it is less clear why it exists alongside the A6.  Other coupés seem to offer something genuinely different to their saloon counterparts.  I’d argue that this car should have five seats and actually be the A6.  To complement it, the estate variant (A6 Avant) is the fabulous grand tourer to whisk its occupants and their luggage to the continent and back.

That said, the A7 will command a premium over the A6 (starting at £43,730 against A6’s £30,145 base price) with which it shares the floor pan and many components.  So if A7 development and manufacturing costs have been kept to a minimum, perhaps Audi doesn’t need to sell too many.  Certainly, some exclusivity will enhance the car’s appeal.  This 3.0 TDI Quattro in SE trim sits at a whisker over £48,000.  

Motor Writer says: good but not magical.

Power: 245PS, emissions: 158g/km, VED band: G, torque: 368 lb ft, 0-62 mph: 6.4s

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