Ingolstadt, Germany - Audi’s new and more expressive design language that kicked off with latest A8 saloon has taken the next evolutionary step with the second-generation A7 Sportback, which was revealed on Thursday night.

The A7 retains its characteristic sloping fastback tail, just with more prominent creases and larger wheel arches, while the front adopts Audi’s latest wide-grin hexagonal grille upfront and joined taillights at the back. Either way, you’ll never mistake it for anything other than an A7 and that’s what you call evolution, Audi style.

Technologically the new model has taken a proper stride forward and although it doesn’t inherit the new A8’s ‘Audi AI’ autonomous driving capabilities, it does get its fair share of 'artificial intelligence' features, along with a new all-digital command centre.

The new car almost completely does away with traditional buttons and rotary dials, with the central dashboard occupied by two large vertically-stacked touch-screens, which seamlessly blend into the surrounding facia.  Up to seven drivers can create user profiles for the vehicle’s features and up to 400 parameters can be personalised.

In terms of gadgets, the highlight here is the self explanatory Audi AI remote parking pilot and remote garage pilot, which allow the car to manoeuvre autonomously, even with the driver outside of the vehicle. These will only become available next year, however. 

Depending on what gadgets are selected, the A7 can come loaded with as many as five radar sensors, five cameras, a laser scanner and 12 ultrasonic sensors, while up to 39 different driver assistance gadgets are offered in total.

As with the new A8, the A7 will sport a 48-volt electrical system, with a lithium ion battery that can store recuperated energy, thus allowing ‘mild’ hybrid capability. 

Only one engine will be available initially, this being Audi’s 3.0 V6 TFSI turbopetrol, rated at 250kW and 600Nm, and sending power to all four wheels via a seven-speed S Tronic dual-clutch gearbox and quattro all-wheel drive. Audi claims a 5.3 second 0-100km/h sprint and 250km/h electronically limited top speed.

Audi assures us that the engine range will be expanded shortly after the start of production, with additional four- and six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines joining the line-up.

The new model rides on an updated chassis, and while standard models still feature steel suspension, buyers will be able to opt for a revised adaptive air suspension system, along with a rear axle sport differential and all-wheel steering. 

According to Audi SA, the new A7 is expected to go on sale locally during the second quarter of 2018.

IOL Motoring