"The Audi A7 is beautifully styled, and a spacious and practical alternative to the Mercedes CLS."
Do you like the idea of a large executive car, but can's quite see yourself behind the wheel of a large, heavy saloon? Then the Audi A7 is for you, it's Audi's answer to cars like the Mercedes CLS and BMW 5 Series GT, both of which are subtly different to the A7 in terms of concept. Practicality is good, with a 535-litre boot, and the A7 is comfortable and relaxing to drive, while flagship versions are very fast.
The Audi A7 is based on a chassis that is made from 20 per cent aluminium. The idea is that this helps keep weight down and improves handling. However, the A7 is still a very large car and tips the scales at around 1,700kg. But despite its size it handles very well. Four-wheel drive is available, which improves traction in slippery conditions. Steering feel could be better, and the car is not quite as agile as the Mercedes CLS. The flagship S7 has a smooth and powerful V8 twin-turbo engine and backs this up with masses of grip in corners and sporty handling.
Inside, the A7 is simply stunning. The dashboard, with its wraparound effect, is fitted with cool-looking instruments that are both nicely styled and easy to read. The A7 impresses in the back too. While it's a strict four-seater - with two armchair like seats in the rear and no centre seatbelt - most adults will find it no less comfy than a limousine like the A8. There's enough space to stretch your legs out, too and despite that sloping roofline, only passengers over six-feet tall will find head room a squeeze.
The Audi A7 is still too new to have appeared in any customer satisfaction surveys. However the fact it is very well built both inside and out suggests that the car will prove reliable. What's more, the car is based on tried and tested engine and gearbox technology from other Audi models, such as the A6 and A8.
There are only four seats in the Audi A7, but there's as much room inside as you'll find in the A6. The boot is quite shallow but it does goes back a long way and the rear seats fold flat, which means there's plenty of space for long or awkwardly shaped items. The hatchback tailgate means the space is easy to access, and therefore more useable. There's plenty of storage inside, too.
Value for money
The Audi A7 is a seriously cool and desirable car, and that's reflected in its purchase price. Prices range from £40,000 to over £60,000 for the S7, and if you go wild with the options it's possible to spend over £90,000. However resale prices should be strong, with Audi forecasting that the car will retain as much as 50 per cent of its value over three years of ownership. That's better than its key rivals.
Audi predicts the 3.0-litre TDI will be its top seller, and with good reason. Fitted with the seven-speed multitronic automatic gearbox, this engine will return fuel economy of 44mpg, and low CO2 emissions of 139g/km. Petrol TFSI engined cars obviously cost more, to run, returning 29mpg but even these impress, given the level of performance on offer. The flagship S7 gets a 414bhp twin-turbo V8, but clever cylinder deactivation technology means fuel economy of nearly 30mpg, which isn't bad considering the performance on offer.