TESTED: Audi A7 Sportback is a comfortable and eye-catching gran turismo
PRETORIA - Audi describes it as a gran turismo and while often manufacturers like hyperbole, this time they hit it on the button.
The full name isn’t something you’d say regularly in casual conversation but the Audi A7 55 TFSI Sportback quattro S tronic is the kind of executive cruiser you’d want in the garage as your go-to long drive option.
Under the sloped hood sits a delightful 3.0 litre turbocharged V6 engine that’s good for 250kW and 500Nm, driving all four wheels via an incredibly smooth seven-speed S tronic dual clutch transmission.
There’s also a 48V mild-hybrid system that aids consumption by using regenerative braking and a freewheeling mode that can deactivate the engine speeds between 55km/h and 160km/h.
The beauty of this four-door coupé is in fact the engine, and while some would bemoan the fact that there isn’t a more frugal diesel option available, the smooth acceleration and perfectly balanced handling makes the A7 a very pleasant drive indeed.
There is a sport setting which tightens the throttle response, gearshifts and suspension but I only used it to test and the A7 continued it’s well-mannered subtle performance. Still, it will get you to 100km/h in a brisk 5.3 seconds and were you allowed to, it tops out at a governed 250km/h.
And while international buying trends continue to prefer SUVs there’s much to be said for a well-designed sleek coupé that attracts all the right attention.
From the eye-catching grille, the raked roofline, large alloys and low profile tyres the A7 has curves and angles in all the right places and had the occasional onlooker posing with it for, I assume, social media posts.
One of Audi’s features is their lighting and here the A7 certainly doesn’t disappoint with the rear LED strip lighting up like an 80s disco and had me unlocking the car more than once at night just for the fun of it as the LED lights ran back and forth. The front headlights with 12 separate strips also create a unique feature.
Inside Audi have managed to match the outside appeal with an almost minimalist look with very few buttons and controls and everything controlled by the MMI touchscreen dual-screen system. The bottom screen handles climate control, the heated seats and is also a sketchpad to scribble down destinations for the navigation system, while the top screen controls functions such as audio vehicle settings and apps.
Fortunately the volume control is still manual while it can also be set on the multi functional steering wheel.
The touchpoints are top-quality glass, brushed aluminium, suede and leather giving it a real executive look and feel or as a friend put it, one of those upmarket New York apartments you see in films.
But it’s driving the A7 that’s the real highlight. We took it for a day trip to Parys in the Free state along an almost empty N1 and as a GT the A7 is near perfect. The test car was fitted with the optional air suspension as well as S sport seats which had us wishing the trip was much longer.
The driving position is extremely comfortable and despite the sloping roof, there’s ample space for rear adult passengers. With a large luggage space at 535 litres there’s also ample place for your luggage and with the back seats folded there’s 1390 litres available.
At just under five metres long the A7 is a big car but it certainly doesn’t feel it as it cruises along effortlessly almost ignoring any road imperfections. Despite its size and 1.8 ton weight it’s easy enough to park in minimum spec shopping parking bays aided no doubt by the optional all-wheel steering which also adds to better and more direct steering when you decide to push your right foot a bit harder.
One thing I did miss though was adaptive cruise control, which at R1.3 million should be standard especially on a GT-type car built for long comfortable road trips.
Apart from that though the Audi A7 55 TFSI Sportback quattro S tronic stands out in this segment, albeit a relatively small one, as a very comfortable, eye-catching four door coupe with an unbelievably smooth performance that belies its size and weight.