If there is one thing that stands out in my mind above all else when reflecting on the Audi A7 Sportback, it's that achingly beautiful body. Low and wide, with a pronounced shoulder line that runs elegantly into a sloping rear deck, the A7 is both imposing and elegant.
Given that this is not a core model, Audi must have felt comfortable letting its normally conservative stylists off the leash for this one and it's really paid off.
So where exactly does this Audi fit in? It actually occupies the 'four-door coupe' niche that was pioneered by the Mercedes-Benz CLS except that, like the far more expensive Aston Martin Rapide, the A7 is actually a hatchback.
Trivialities aside, this car makes me wonder why cars such as the new A6 could not have been stroked by the same beauty brush. Sure, practicality demands would require a taller roofline, but surely they could get it looking almost as good? Instead, Audi's mainstream sedan looks bland by comparison and if you want the prettier option then be prepared to part with an extra R73 000, despite no significant spec advantage, for a car that is less practical and built on the same platform.
This test features the only petrol-powered model in the A7 range, powered by Audi's direct-injection, supercharged three-litre V6 mill that dispatches 220kW at 5250rpm and 440Nm between 2900rpm and 4500rpm. It's good for a claimed 0-100km/h time of 5.6 seconds.
Look, it's no super-saloon but the power on hand will suit most desires and it feels surprisingly brisk for a car of its size and power - that supercharger ensuring seamless acceleration at Reef altitudes. In expected Audi fashion, the engine delivers a throaty yet subdued acoustic sensation.
With quattro all-wheel drive and an optional set of 19" alloys on our test unit (18" is standard), road holding proved nothing short of brilliant. The ride isn't the cream of the limo class, yet should be cushy enough for most.
In most ways, then, the A7 delivered an enjoyable drive - it has more character than most Audis I remember, in areas such as steering and throttle sensation, but it still won't give you the kind of meaty feedback that you get in a BMW.
The A7 just has that extra dose of character that you don't really expect from Audi. The same applies inside the car, where you'll find swooping lines in a refreshing departure from the usual, clinical Audi look, while the quality and attention to detail is superb. An interesting standard feature is the touchpad for browsing radio stations and navigation destinations but it did feel a bit tiresome to operate and is perhaps best kept as a showpiece, assuming you feel the need to impress passengers.
When it comes to accommodating those occupants, the A7 is not as impractical as it seems, with ample rear legroom and enough rear headroom for average-sized adults.
A hugely desirable car in most respects, the A7 is, at R728 000, keenly priced against its main competitors, the Mercedes-Benz CLS and Porsche Panamera. Pity Audi charges extra for style, though.
Audi A6 3.0T - R655 000
Porsche Panamera - R768 000
Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 - R770 850