Review: Audi A7 Sportback (2018)

Rating:

One of the best interior designs around. Excellent intuitive touchscreen system. Fitted with some impressive technology.

Tiptronic gearbox and 50 TDI engine do not make for a winning combination. Not as spacious in the back as you'd expect for a car close to five metres long.

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Audi A7 Sportback (2018): At A Glance

The second generation Audi A7 Sportback of 2018 proved that Audi's strategy of premium niche cars is the way to find status seeking buyers.  

A luxury five-door coupe may not seem like an obvious car to many, especially when everyone and their uncle seems to be buying SUVs. But the original A7 Sportback found plenty of takers when it was introduced as a more stylish and practical alternative to the A8.

The second generation A7 Sportback builds on the same formula of the first with Audi saying it combines the 'design of a coupe, the space of a saloon and the versatility of an Avant.' Whether you like the looks is of course subjective, but the general census seems to be that this is not the most attractive of designs, particularly compared to its predecessor.

Just two engines are available - both 3.0-litre V6 units. Thanks to Audi's now nomenclature designed to cater for hybrids as well as combustion engined cars, they're called the 55 TFSI, which is the petrol and has 340PS, and the 50 TDI. The latter has been far more popular. It produces 286PS but it's the 620Nm of torque which makes this such a strong and effortless engine.

However, the TDI is seriously let down by the eight-speed Tiptronic torque converter automatic. Slow witted to respond, particularly around town, it means the accelerator pedal becomes like an on/off switch. As a result, driving the A7 smoothly and gently at everyday speeds becomes frustrating.

It's a very strange quirk from a manufacturer like Audi, especially in a flagship model like the A7 Sportback, but it's something we've also experienced in the A8 and latest A6.

Not only that but the ride isn't up to the usual standards we'd expect either. Don't get us wrong, you're never going to say that the A7 Sportback is uncomfortable, but it's a bit at odds with itself. On the one hand it wants to be luxury cruiser and on the other, sporty coupe. The result is a set-up which is neither one thing or the other, with a strange softness in the body control combined with stiff dampers.

What does set the A7 Sportback apart is the interior. This is one of - if not the - best car interiors around. It's wonderfully designed and feels genuinely special. It even puts things like the Range Rover Velar in the shade. The two touchscreen system is intuitive and everything just works faultlessly.

Priced from around £55k, the A7 Sportback competes with the Mercedes-Benz CLS and BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe. While the Audi's interior is an absolute tour de force, the A7 Sportback is let down by its busy ride and the TDI's eight-speed Tiptronic gearbox. If you want a diesel, the CLS is a better all-rounder in this respect. 

What does a Audi A7 Sportback (2018) cost?

List Price from £48,175
Buy new from £36,321
Contract hire from £428.56 per month
Get a finance quote with CarMoney

Audi A7 Sportback (2018): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 4969 mm
Width 2118 mm
Height 1422 mm
Wheelbase 2925 mm

Full specifications

The A7 Sportback has - in our opinion - one of the best interiors ever committed to a car. The design, solid finish and overall ambience make this a car that's a joy to be in. It feels genuinely special and unlike anything else out there.

It follows the A8, using a similar minimal design based on horizontal lines, with a hefty solid metal trim across the dash and on the centre console. As you'd expect of one of Audi's flagship cars, the quality is impeccable.

The interior is more spacious than the previous A7, with more rear knee room and head room, according to Audi. That said, it's still not as roomy as you'd expect of a car that's knocking on five metres in length, although the same can be said of the Mercedes-Benz CLS and BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe. It comes with a three-seat rear bench as standard, but the wide transmission tunnel means it's cramped for anyone sitting in the middle seat.

Thanks to the fact the A7 is actually a hatchback, it's very practical with a huge boot that can carry pretty much anything you can throw at it, including pushchairs and golf clubs (albeit not at the same time). Standard boot space is 535 litres - around the same as a CLS.

Like the A8, the A7 Sportback has the latest MMI system with two touchscreens. These replace the older rotary controller dial and satellite button system. The good news is that they're very simple to use with clear graphics, intuitive menus and simple controls.

They also have haptic feedback, so feel as though they click when you press them. Although we still think a standard touchscreen is actually quicker to use.

Standard equipment from launch:

Sport comes with LED front and rear lights, 19-inch alloy wheels, twin leather upholstered seats with full electric adjustment upfront,  LED ambient interior lighting, Audi Virtual Cockpit, MMI Navigation Plus with MMI Touch, Audi Smartphone Interface and the Audi Phone Box with wireless charging for QI-enabled compatible phones, Audi Parking System Plus with rear-view camera, Audi Pre-sense Front collision warning and automatic braking system plus the Lane Departure Warning system.

S Line adds 20-inch alloy wheels, HD Matrix LED headlights with dynamic front and rear indicators, sport suspension lowering the body by 10mm, and S line-specific body styling, bolstered front sport seats upholstered in leather and Alcantara along with S line-specific interior detailing

Child seats that fit a Audi A7 Sportback (2018)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Audi A7 Sportback (2018) like to drive?

The A7 Sportback is quite a tricky car to sum up when it comes to driving. It seems a little confused about what it's trying to be, treading the path between a luxury car on the one hand and a sports coupe on the other.

Take the ride quality. Being a big Audi - and one that shares much with the latest A8 - you'd expect it to travel along smoothly. Even with the adaptive air suspension - a £2000 option - it still feels surprisingly busy.

The suspension itself is quite floaty, but the dampers are firm, which makes for an oddly juddering ride, not helped by the massive alloys - 19-inch as standard. It's something that's particularly noticeable on poor roads, the kind of which we're not short of in the UK...

The A7 Sportback is a big car - make no mistake about that - and it feels it from behind the wheel, particularly in terms of its width. That said, take it around a few corners and you can't fail to be impressed with how well it handles, with plenty of grip and great traction thanks to the quattro system.

The steering is responsive, helped by a new progressive steering with a ratio that becomes more direct as lock is applied. Audi says it has been reworked with a focus on giving more detailed feedback - and it's certainly one of the better steering systems around, certainly compared to that in the BMW 7 Series.

There are two engines in the range, both 3.0-litre V6 units. Thanks to Audi's badging system they're rather confusingly called 55 TFSI, which is the petrol and has 340PS, and 50 TDI, the diesel.

It's the latter which, as you'd expect, is far more popular. It produces 286PS but it's the 620Nm of torque which makes this such a strong and effortless engine. It's quiet too and when cruising along the motorway, there's little engine noise at all to speak of.

Official economy for the 50 TDI is rated at more than 50mpg and is aided by a mild hybrid (MHEV), which is standard on all A7 models. At between 34mph and 99mph the engine can deactivate while the car coasts in freewheeling mode, saving fuel.

What lets the 50 TDI down is the gearbox. Rather than the dual-clutch S tronic fitted to the 55 TFSI, the diesel gets an eight-speed Tiptronic. This is a more traditional torque converter transmission, usually renowned for their smooth shifting action.

And that's very true in this case. Accelerate from a motorway slip road and the gearbox shifts up quickly and smoothly. It's at lower speeds where it comes undone.

The gearbox seems hesitant and slow to respond when you ask the A7 to accelerate after coming off the power - for instance when approaching a roundabout. So driving smoothly and gently at everyday speeds becomes more difficult than it needs to be. This slow-witted nature is something we've experienced in four-cylinder Audi engines with S tronic gearboxes, but this is a first for a larger engine.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
40 TDI quattro 59–64 mpg 7.0–8.3 s 117–120 g/km
40 TDI S tronic 58–60 mpg 8.3 s 122–127 g/km
45 TDI quattro 49–50 mpg 6.5 s 147–150 g/km
45 TFSI - - 148–152 g/km
45 TFSI quattro - - 150–154 g/km
50 TDI quattro 49–50 mpg 5.7 s 147–150 g/km
55 TFSI quattro 40–40 mpg 5.3 s 158–161 g/km
S7 - - 170 g/km

Real MPG average for a Audi A7 Sportback (2018)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

72%

Real MPG

29–36 mpg

MPGs submitted

5

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

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