The Audi A7 Quattro is one of those cars that sweeps past you around town or on motorways and you think to yourself, that’s a pretty car, what is it? For sure its brother, the A5 may be seen more but it doesn’t carry the class and charisma of its older sibling. 5 doors, low slung, sporty sleek profile and a busily ‘blinged up’ face of chrome and LEDs, it certainly wears its clothes well.
I’ve never really looked at Audi seriously, being more of an ‘ultimate driving machine’ sort of guy myself. After all, the BMW 5 series won car of the year so many times that BMW must be getting something right. Strewn from rock, fast, reliable, excellent handling and rear-wheel drive…
But the Audi A7 isn’t really a 5 series competitor anyway, more of a BMW 6 or even 7 series challenger, and much more pleasant on the eye than either of the Bavarian beefcakes. Chris Bangle started a trend with BMW that, in its day was cutting edge, but it is hard to distinguish current BMW upgrades, let alone new models from the older ones now.
The A7 is of course a Quattro, that’s different. Rallying? The A7 has the feel of a rear-wheel drive, as it should, but when pressed hard, or in slippery or wet conditions then the 4wd really bites in hard. It will destroy many faster cars around a damp Tuesday morning A1 roundabout, where it really counts.
It really is a stunningly pretty car to look at. The BMW 6 series in my view doesn’t come close. Mercedes have tried to emulate the sloping coupe-style but somehow the side windows are still too big and the rear ends still look like dodgem cars, it doesn’t quite work.
What else out there looks so good on this side of an Aston? The 3.0 Quattro in dark blue metallic paint with 20-inch alloys and sports suspension was the perfect combination. Privacy glass and the cream leather gave a sense of presence.
So the techy stuff before the fun stuff. This A7 SE Executive Sportback 3.0 TDI Quattro S Tronic (try getting that lot on the boot badge) claims 54mpg and a 0-60 time of 5.5 seconds. That’s pretty damned fast, with a limited (naturally) top end of 155.
Let’s say here and now that the A7 averaged 48mpg, but you will be relieved to learn that can be reduced to 25mpg when using the horsepower more conservatively. It’s nice to have the choice. You need something seriously fast to beat it away from the lights on a decent drag, and the torque…well, let’s come back to that, it’s worth waiting for.
If you’re into changing gears there are steering wheel paddles plus a gear lever sports shift. There are 5 driving styles, the ones of real interest to be honest were dynamic, comfort and economy (just to see what mpg it could achieve). The dynamic is incredible as the car muscles down and morphs into something different.
Tight steering, suspension to match the performance and a super sensitive throttle response. And about that torque…in dynamic mode it flies through the ratios like a petrol, dashing to the redline in a crazily short burst. At 60mph, floor the pedal and you could be doing 120 while changing your music. Comfort mode is comfort. Easy, relaxed and limo-like.
There are all the expected goodies in the Audi. Unlike chocolate bar manufacturers, car makers carry on giving more, not less. Without boring everyone with a list of interior specs, suffice to say that Audi has created a lovely place to be. A real sense of occasion that Mercedes and BMW struggle to compete with. The German competitors may have switches and fittings that would survive a return trip to Mars but they lack any real style. Audi has managed to create something that looks classy and cool.
What is the order of priorities for the average motorist? Style and presence – the Audi A7 Quattro has these in abundance. Performance and handling – well it’s not meant to be an M series and do you want all the noise and pile bothering suspension every time you traverse a zebra crossing?
Performance is ‘adequate’ as Rolls Royce used to say before they started building HGVs. MPG is beyond expectations. Room for 4 six-footers and their luggage is easily achieved. You could drive an A7 with your leg in traction and still have room for your dad behind.
When manufacturers build something that is supposed to be at a ‘higher level’ than this they invariably have to compromise. The new Aston Martin DBS Superleggera for example is an engine, it's longer that the HMS Queen Elizabeth but seats a family poorly. Porsche’s latest 911 variants remain low on our list that cannot compete with any comfort or ride quality.
Bentleys offer blistering performance and a modicum of consideration to rear-seat passengers, albeit at £150k more. Whilst we aren’t directly comparing these cars to the Audi A7, consider what they are like to live with...if you are lucky enough to own two that’s awesome, but for a rainy drive to the office around the M25 the right side of £500 per month, there is only one logical choice.
How does the Audi A7 Quattro score on our tests?
Speed? 8/10. Too refined, keep an eye on the speedo!
Size? 10/10. You could carry a full family and your ASDA shopping easily in an Audi A7 Quattro.
Style? 7/10. Great if they know what quality looks like.
Price? 7/10. Massive value but initially depreciates quickly, what car doesn’t though?
Fun? 6/10. Not a Ferrari but it goes fast when you want it to and is smooth like a limo.
Total Score: 38/50
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