Audi A7 hatchback
Price £45,875 - £63,375
- Interior quality and design
- Head-turning looks
- Good to drive
- Expensive options
- Rear head room tight for taller adults
- The hatchback boot is shallow
At a glance
"The Audi A7 is a beautifully styled, spacious and practical alternative to the Mercedes CLS."
If you like the idea of driving a large executive car but you can’t really see yourself behind the wheel of a big, heavy saloon like the BMW 5 Series or Audi A6, then the Audi A7 Sportback could well be the ideal car for you.
Audi has targeted the A7 to rival cars such as the BMW 5 Series GT and Mercedes CLS, both of which are subtly different to the A7 in terms of concept. The A7 is stylish and comes loaded with technology, plus it's based on the luxurious A6, so shares a lot of tried-and-tested equipment and parts.
You don’t get as varied a choice of engines as in some other Audi models, instead getting to choose from a limited selection of high-powered 3.0-litre petrol and diesel engines, with an option for Audi's quattro four-wheel drive, too. It comes in three main specifications – the entry-level SE Executive car, mid-range S Line and range-topping Black Edition models – with all cars offering a decent level of standard equipment.
MPG, running costs & CO2
All cars offer impressive economy – especially the Audi A7 Ultra
Audi isn’t offering the more efficient 2.0-litre TDI diesel in the A7, so the best bet is the two-wheel drive Audi A7 Ultra. It uses an economical 215bhp 3.0-litre TDI diesel engine, which Audi says will return 60.1mpg and emit just 122g/km of CO2. It's our pick of the range, and means you can tax this big and luxurious coupe for just £110 per year.
Petrol TFSI cars obviously cost a bit more to run, returning around 37mpg, but this isn’t as bad as it seems, given the level of performance available. The S7 gets a fast and powerful 414bhp twin-turbo V8, but includes a clever cylinder deactivation system that keeps fuel economy at just over 30mpg. CO2 emissions of 215g/km mean an annual tax bill of £290. The bonkers Audi RS7 is faster still – with very little penalty in terms of running costs.
Engines, drive & performance
Despite its bulky size, the Audi A7 Sportback corners very well
The A7 has been built using 20 per cent aluminium to reduce its weight and generally improve handling. But that doesn’t change the fact that it is still a very big car, weighing in at around 1,700kg. Nonetheless, Audi has accomplished its mission, because the A7 does indeed handle very well, with the optional quattro four-wheel drive improving traction still further, especially in slippery conditions.
The Audi A7 Ultra is our pick of the range thanks to its mix of performance and running costs, while the new seven-speed S tronic automatic gearbox is slicker and smoother than the old eight-speed CVT auto. Unless you value speed over and above anything else, this is the engine and gearbox we'd go for.
The steering isn’t quite up to par, however, proving less agile and responsive than the Mercedes CLS, so it’s not as much fun to drive overall. All models do come equipped with Audi’s Drive Select system, though, which allows you to alter the suspension and steering settings to suit you. If you want the best performance possible, though, you definitely need to go for the Audi S7 or RS7 models, which boast powerful V8 twin-turbo petrol engines that deliver lots of grip driving through corners and even sportier handling.
Interior & comfort
The Audi A7 is comfortable and stylish - but there's only room for four
Once you’re inside the A7, the interior is stunning. The dashboard sports stylish instrument dials and controls that are great to look at while also being easy to use. It may be a strict four-seat car because of its two armchair-like seats in the back and no seatbelt in the middle, but most adults will find it easily as comfortable as the Audi A8 limousine. What's more, following an update in summer 2014, all cars come with four-zone automatic air-con to help heat or cool to each passengers taste.
You can easily stretch out your legs, though passengers who are over six feet in height will have problems with headroom thanks to the sloping roof. The interior is nice and quiet (though going for larger alloy wheels can compromise that), with an acoustic windscreen further filtering out any wind, road or engine noise.
Practicality & boot space
The shallow boot in the Audi A7 is easy to access
You only get four seats in the Audi A7, but there’s still the same amount of room that you get in the cheaper Audi A6. Its 535 litres of boot space is more than the Mercedes CLS, and it expands to a strong 1,350 litres when you fold the back seats down flat, so there’s more than enough luggage capacity.
With the rear seats in place, the boot is a bit shallow, but is does go back a long way and there’s plenty of space for awkwardly shaped items. The hatchback tailgate means the space is easy to access, and therefore more useable than it could have been. There's plenty of storage inside, too.
Alas, visibility is a weak point, which makes the optional rear-view camera something of a much-have purchase.
Reliability & safety
A large proportion of parts in the Audi A7 are based on tried and tested technology
The Audi A7 has still to make its debut in the Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, but as it’s based on the A6, you can expect it to score quite highly. The A6 finished 26th in the 2014 poll, with Audi itself managing to place a mid-table 12th in the manufacturers rankings. Owners rated the A6 well for build-quality, performance and in-car technology, but not so well for ride quality, road handling and running costs – but the economical new Audi A7 Ultra should take car of the latter.
The A7 hasn’t been put through the Euro NCAP crash safety tests yet, but the A6 did secure the full five-star rating, with a particularly strong 91 per cent scored for adult protection, so expect the A7 to do likewise. It comes equipped with front, side and curtain airbags, electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes and tyre pressure monitoring as standard. You can also add active lane assist, adaptive cruise control and night vision as optional extras.
Price, value for money & options
Even the entry-level Audi A7 is expensive, but used values are good
There’s no doubting that the A7 is a seriously desirable car, and that is, of course, reflected in the hefty list price. You’ll need at least £40,000 to get one and if you’re trigger-happy with the options list, that price can easily sky rocket as high as £90,000.
You do get a lot of equipment as standard though, including sat-nav, four-zone air-conditioning (for each individual passenger), leather upholstery and LED headlights. Luckily, resale values in the UK used car market are very strong for Audis, so you can expect to get back as much as 50 per cent of your initial outlay even after three years of ownership. That's better than most of its key rivals.