What’s it like to drive a … Audi A7 Quattro
The Audi A7 is one of those cars that sweeps past you around town or on motorways and you think damn, 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 LED’s, 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, great 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 beef cakes. 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 thought of front wheel drive has never appealed to me. Unlike most of the girls I have ever known, I would rather be pushed than pulled. Very distant memories of MG Maestro turbo’s and blown Fiat Uno’s have stuck with me as the ultimate torque steer kings. It’s difficult to forget the pathetically scrambling front wheels eating their inner tyres when cornering hard. So, whilst I have no doubt that things will have progressed, Audi’s have never had a serious look in for me.
The A7 is of course a quattro, that’s different. Rallying? Memories of Finnish drivers in spunky fire spitting quattro’s? The power of motorsport eh. I’ll be honest though, I was expecting a little diff whine and heavy fuel consumption. I didn’t need to worry. 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, and leave the GTI brigade wondering how this beauty makes their little roller skates look so …so teenage.
It really is a stunningly pretty car to look at. The BMW 6 series in my view doesn’t come close, with its prolapsed arse and greedy shark nose. Just while we are on this, who signs off car designs these days? Mercedes have tried to emulate the sloping coupe style but somehow the side windows are still too big and the flabby rear ends still look like dodgem cars, it doesn’t quite work. What else out there looks so good this side of an Aston? Search me. The 3.0 Quattro in dark blue metallic paint with 20” alloys and sports suspension was the perfect combination. Privacy glass worked without making it look like a coke dealers office 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, not pant shittingly fast but enough to piss the Mrs off, with a limited (naturally) top end of 155. Let’s say here and now that the A7 averaged 48mpg which was mind blowing for the Extinction Rebellion luvvies, but you will be relieved to learn that can be reduced to 25mpg when using all the ponies as you really should. Nice to have the choice. You need something seriously fast to beat it away from the lights on a decent drag, and the torque…lets 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). Dynamic is incredible as the whole car ‘muscles down’ and morphs into something totally 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 crazily short burst. At 60mph, floor the pedal and you could be doing 120 while changing Ipod settings. Comfort mode is comfort. Easy, relaxed and limo like. Keeps her quiet on shopping trips.
There 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 have 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 have managed to create something that looks classy and cool.
So while I have bleated Bavarian for many years as the ultimate sporty all-rounder that carries kids, cruises to Monaco, corners like a baddun and pulls like Brad Pitt, I have to say I am converted to Ingoldstadt.
What is the order of priorities for a middle aged guy who still feels 30? Style and presence – the Audi A7 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 HGV’s. MPG is beyond expectations. And 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. And does it make you glance back every time you walk away from it? Every time.
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 all engine, longer that the HMS Queen Elizabeth but seats two adults and two nipple feeders badly. Porsche’s latest 911 variants remain squat beetles that cannot compete with any comfort or ride quality. Bentley’s 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 score on our key tests?
License loser? 8/10. Too refined, keep an eye on the speedo
Full shopping trip load? 10/10. You could carry a dead horse in an Audi A7
Impress the ladies? 7/10. Great if they know what quality looks like
Shag test? 7/10. This side of a Rolls Royce conservatory on wheels you’ll manage better than in most cars
Cost 7/10. Massive value but initially depreciates quickly, what doesn’t though?
Fun 6/10. Not a Ferrari but goes like a curried turd when you want it to and a limo to take Grandma home in too
Total Score 45/60
You can now buy an Audi A7 with bitcoin and crypto currency at www.autocoincars.com
Russel Pickett – Autocoincars alternative road tests.