Audi A7 hatchback
Price £46,865 - £64,380
- Interior quality and design
- Head-turning looks
- Good to drive
- Expensive options
- The hatchback boot is shallow
- Rear head room tight for taller adults
At a glance
“The Audi A7 looks like a beautiful and sleek coupe, but it’s actually a luxurious and practical five-door executive express.”
The Audi A7 Sportback is a welcome addition the executive car class. If you’re in the market at this level, you were previously limited to traditional saloons like the BMW 5 Series, Audi A6 or Mercedes E-Class, with those who liked to think differently catered for by left-field choices like the Lexus GS, Volvo S80 or even the Infiniti Q70. These cars were still saloons, however, and it took the launch of the Mercedes CLS back in 2005 to mark the end of the dominance of the ‘three-box’ (bonnet, passenger area and boot) saloon.
Audi was relatively late to the game when it launched the A7 Sportback in 2010 – a year after the also-unusual BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo – but in many ways it was worth the wait. Essentially a stylised version of the A6 saloon, the A7 has a luxurious interior with a truly ‘premium’ feel, a range of powerful engines and – marking it out from the competition – a hatchback boot, complete with rear seats that can be folded flat. A facelift in 2015 brought updates to the exterior styling, as well as economy and emissions improvements.
The A7 is available with one petrol and three diesel engines. The 328bhp 3.0-litre petrol is powerful enough to get the A7 from 0-62mph in just 5.3 seconds, but with fuel economy of 36.2mpg and an annual road-tax bill of £230, it's tough to recommend. Audi also makes a performance-orientated S7 model, as well as the ultra-sporty RS7. Both come with a powerful 4.0-litre petrol engine, with the S7 going from 0-62mph in just 4.6 seconds, and the RS7 managing it in under four seconds. With the S7 costing almost £20,000 more than an entry-level A7 and the RS7 adding either £20,000 or £27,000 again, depending on whether you go for the standard 552bhp version or the 597bhp Performance version, both are hard to justify.
The diesel engines are a better bet. All are 3.0-litres, with power outputs of 215, 268 or 316bhp meaning real-world performance is similar to the petrol, but efficiency is far superior. Those after maximum frugality should seek out the 215bhp Ultra model, which is capable of 62.8mpg and costs just £30 a year to tax thanks to its low CO2 emissions. A 0-62mph time of 7.2 seconds means it's not exactly a slouch, either. At the other end of the scale, the twin-turbo 316bhp diesel can go from 0-62mph in just 5.2 seconds, while returning 44.8mpg and costing £210 a year in road tax.
All A7s come with Audi's quattro four-wheel-drive system, apart from the ‘entry-level’ diesel, which is available as a front-wheel drive as well. There's no manual gearbox available, but the automatic operates smoothly and suits the car well.
The A7 is available in three trim levels, starting with SE Executive and rising through mid-range S line, with the Black Edition topping off the range. All are well equipped, coming with leather seats, four-zone air-conditioning, cruise control, a power-operated tailgate, sat nav and keyless entry. The S line model costs about £3,000 more than the standard car, with the Black Edition adding a further £4,000 on top of this.
We recommend the 215bhp diesel Ultra model in SE Executive trim. This will have more than enough power for most, yet promises excellent economy. The higher trim levels predominantly focus on (admittedly appealing) aesthetic upgrades, but seem expensive. Specifying a parking camera is advised, though, as the A7's sleek lines come at the cost of limited rear visibility.
On the road, the A7 has confidence-inspiring grip and does a reasonably good job of insulating you from potholes and poor road surfaces – although this is less true with S line and Black Edition cars, which have lower, firmer suspension and larger wheels, which you can fortunately omit at no cost when ordering. The A7 isn’t the last word in driver involvement, but it's smooth and quiet, thanks in part to Audi's ‘acoustic windscreen’, which has been designed to minimise wind noise.
Occupants are treated to a well designed and luxurious interior, even if it's not quite as plush as newer models in Audi's range like the TT. The rear seats will take three passengers and offer plenty of legroom, although taller passengers will find headroom tight – another compromise brought about by the A7's coupe-like looks. The middle rear seat is tight and not a comfortable prospect on long journeys.
Being based on the A6 saloon means the A7 should have tried-and-tested mechanicals. Unfortunately, the A6's 81st-place finish (out of 150 cars), together with a 131st-place result for reliability in our 2016 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, indicates potential concerns for A7 customers. Safety is unlikely to be a worry, though: while the A7 didn’t go through its own individual assessment, the A6 scored the full five stars in its Euro NCAP tests.
All versions offer impressive economy – especially the Audi A7 Ultra
Despite its size, the Audi A7 Sportback corners very well
The Audi A7 is comfortable and stylish – but the middle rear seat is small
The shallow boot in the Audi A7 is easy to access
A large proportion of parts in the Audi A7 are based on tried-and-tested technology