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Audi A7 Sportback review: Rear admiration
Cape Town, South Africa
A GLANCE at the front of Audi's new A7 Sportback doesn't reveal a whole lot. It certainly looks like a modern Audi, with the brand's signature design ethos clearly on display. While it looks wide, low and purposeful from the front, the A7's true flair only becomes clear when you see the rear.
"For a gran turismo, the most important part of the design is the back," says the A7's designer, Sebastiano Russo. "Simply because they are overtaking other cars all the time."
The A7, which first appeared in 2010, is now in its second iteration and part of a sub-segment of cars called gran turismos, that combine five-door practicality with coupe style.
Locals would have gotten used to seeing the back end of an A7 on the open coastal roads outside Cape Town, where the car was launched, since as a gran turismo, going quick with effortless cool is part of the Audi's design brief.
"Cool" is achieved by preserving the elegant silhouette that was present from the A7's birth, only this time, it's been executed in a cleaner, sharper manner. It also concludes strongly with a full-width taillight that creases dramatically over the license plate.
The final result is a car that is enjoyable to look at, especially in motion and from the rear quarter. You can almost imagine BMW drivers actually feeling pleased when one of these blasts past.
From behind the A7's wheel, that's not a difficult task thanks to the turbocharged 340hp 3.0-litre V6 engine. Proven in many other Audis, the V6 meters out smooth, flexible power that serves just as well here, delivering high-speed overtakes in Cape Town's constant traffic with ease.
Unlike the previous model, the new A7 has much snappier responses to the driver's commands, thanks in no small amount to the new four-wheel steering system. Like similar systems offered by BMW and Porsche, it makes for easier cornering progress at all speeds.
In fact, the A7 is classic Audi with its tendency towards smooth, easy access to high-speed in a very understated way. The car's refinement is also deceptive, and had us wishing for more power, at least until we realised how fast we were actually covering ground.
That was partly the result of the optional adaptive air suspension keeping progress unruffled, though for Singapore, it's more likely that conventional adaptive suspension will be standard. The former delivers good ride quality, even on pockmarked South African town roads.
Dedicated drivers might find themselves wishing for more drama, but that would come with at the expense of comfort, also keeping in mind that higher performance S7 and RS 7 versions are expected in the near future. A more mainstream base model is also planned, with a 2.0-litre in-line four cylinder engine.
The large hatchback rear door gives a big loading aperture, making fitting large luggage less of a hassle, and its boot space is the same as before (535-litres, a tad larger than what the current A6 sedan offers), while legroom for rear passengers has been improved, so four adults will fit even more comfortably.
Sharing the same platform as the tech-heavy Audi A8 luxury limousine, the A7 inherits its own set of advanced tricks, everything from laser lights to driving and parking assist systems, though exactly what will be available for Singapore will only be clear once it's launched in the middle of the year.
Like the exterior, there's a little more driver-focus with the latest infotainment system, MMI Touch Response, packing dual-screens angled towards the driver, and the design flourish of a buttress with the "quattro" logo all displaying much more panache than a regular executive sedan.
If however, you prefer a more normal, big luxury sedan, the A7 is also a harbinger of all the improvements that are very likely to be found on the next Audi A6, which is expected to be announced later this year.
As a beautiful, fun alternative to a stodgy sedan, the A7 is all about going fashionably fast forward. Just make sure you peek at its behind to see what the fuss is about first.
Audi A7 Sportback 3.0 TFSI
Engine 2,995cc, V6, turbocharged
Power 340hp at 5,000-6,400rpm
Torque 500Nm at 1370-4500rpm
Gearbox 7-speed dual-clutch
Top Speed 250km/h
0-100km/h 5.3 seconds
Fuel efficiency 7.1L/100km
Price To be announced
Agent Premium Automobiles