Audi S7 Sportback hatchback
"The Audi S7 Sportback offers huge performance in a practical hatchback package, but the cheaper S6 is just as good"
- Straight-line speed
- Stylish interior
- Costly to run
- Won't satisfy enthusiasts
Hatchback, Sportback – call it what you will. But two things are undeniable about the Audi S7 Sportback: it’s eye-catching and very fast.
The S7’s interesting and distinctive styling is due to Audi’s unusual concept of creating a sleek executive car with a hatchback boot opening that gives a dose of practicality that’s rare in this class. In this regard, it's similar to the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe, Mercedes CLS and Porsche Panamera.
Power used to come from a potent 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8, but for 2019 it's been replaced by a clever diesel mild-hybrid setup with 344bhp and 700Nm of torque. It's channelled to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Straight-line speed and grip are both impressive but there's little about the engine or handling to truly thrill driving enthusiasts. It's steering lacks feedback, but optional four-wheel steering does at least make the Audi S7 feel agile, with less propensity to understeer than older S models.
The S7 is at least as comfortable, well equipped and spacious as you'd expect, making it a relaxing grand tourer. However, the considerably cheaper, more practical Audi S6 is just as fast, so you'll need to really love the shape of the S7 to justify its higher cost.
MPG, running costs & CO2
The surprise switch to a diesel powertrain should make the latest Audi S7 cheaper to run day-to-day for the sort of long-distance drivers it's aimed at. That's thanks to a reasonable 35.8mpg fuel-efficiency figure, which is much easier to achieve than the supposed 29.7mpg of the V8 petrol engine in the previous model. We managed mid-30s during our testing and mid-forties on longer motorway runs.
Emissions drop from 220 to 170g/km of CO2 but, while it's nice to know the latest version is much cleaner for the environment, this won't reduce running costs. Benefit-in-Kind for company-car drivers is still in the top tier and road tax costs £145 - after five renewals of £465 owing to the VED surcharge on cars costing more than £40,000.
Engines, drive & performance
The Audi S7 TDI has both an electric compressor and conventional turbocharger, giving an instant shove of torque when you press the accelerator before the normal turbo gets going. This gives the big Audi rampant acceleration even at low revs, dispatching the 0-62mph sprint in 5.1 seconds. The car’s top speed is limited to 155mph.
Audi’s Drive Select system is fitted, and this allows you to change the car’s character from a comfortable, relaxed cruiser to a sports car at the touch of a button. It alters the steering weight, gearbox settings and suspension stiffness, and allows you to find a good balance between fun and comfort. Four-wheel steering is a worthwhile option, improving the agility of what's still a two-tonne car, but disappointingly the lower S7 feels no sharper than the Audi S6 saloon.
Interior & comfort
Those familiar with the A7 will immediately identify the S7. The high-quality interior cocoons the driver and front passenger, with a high and wide centre console. Despite myriad functions and controls, the clever layout means it’s not at all intimidating. Audi’s brilliant twin-screen infotainment system significantly reduces the button count, and it’s very easy to use.
The S7 is available in standard or Vorsprung trim. The standard trim includes 20-inch alloy wheels, sports seats, electrically adjustable front seats, tinted windows, Audi's Virtual Cockpit display, aluminium pedals and illuminated door sills, four-zone climate control and a flat bottom steering wheel, but in truth it's very hard to tell the difference between the S7 and a range-topping A7.
The Vorsprung version looks appropriately aggressive for an S-badged Audi, with 21-inch alloy wheels, black trim for the outside of the car and Matrix LED headlights. You also get adaptive air suspension, all-wheel steering, a sports differential, a full leather interior, panoramic sunroof and a top-of-the-range Bang & Olufsen sound system. The only problem is that upgrading to this model costs an eye-watering £18,000.
Practicality & boot space
There’s one large caveat when talking about the Audi S7’s practicality: while it can carry five adults, the middle rear passenger will have the short straw as the centre seat is far too narrow.
But if there are four of you, the S7 is far more useable. Space in the front seats is good, as is the visibility outside the car (although choosing the optional Comfort Pack or Parking Pack is recommended as both feature a parking camera).
Interior storage is decent, but it’s the boot which is its stand-out feature. While at 535 litres it offers only five more litres than you’ll find in an Audi S6, the large tailgate makes loading and unloading luggage far easier. The seats can be folded, too (not a given in a car of this size and type), expanding the space to 1,390 litres.
Reliability & safety
Neither the Audi S7 or A7 has been crash-tested by safety experts Euro NCAP, or included in our Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, although parallels can be drawn from closely related models.
In the 2019 Driver Power survey, Audi finished in 16th position out of 30 manufacturers. Build quality was rated as average, while customers found fuel economy reasonable, but felt servicing and other running costs like insurance were too expensive.
The Audi A6 scored a full five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash test programme, so the closely related S7 should perform equally as well. Standard safety equipment includes front, front side and curtain airbags, electronic stability control and ISOFIX child-seat mounts on the two main rear seats and the front passenger seat.