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The Top Gear car review:

Audi A7 55 TFSI quattro S-tronic

R1 636 890 | Base Price R1 298 000

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Arresting looks equally synced with tailored luxury

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OVERALL
VERDICT

For:

Just look at it. Oh and its as refined and luxurious as they come.

Against:

Uhm…Options can weigh your pocket down.

What is it?

The 2nd-generation Audi A7 follows on from the gasps of the first gen that broke cover 8 years ago. Audi’s take on the four-coupé was a lesson in breath-taking design and the new A7 follows on from that. It’s even better, commanding presence aside it’s the object of express luxury and class. Where Mercedes may claim the first of this niche design, Audi’s bang on the money here. The new face grille, v-shaped bonnet andair intakes give a large and stylish front end that then carries towards the long and low rear featuring the signature sloping roofline that ends on an improved and less flat faced rear end. The rear integrates the LED light strip in between signature animated light units with 13 different segments. This animation plays out as you lock or unlock the car and similar to the front, it’s a cool sign or welcome. Very cool Audi. Even the Internet agrees – just search this feature on YouTube.

The A7 plays in the niche segment next to the Merc CLS400d or even the BMW 8-Series Gran Coupe. And where each of these competitors have slightly different dispositions, the Audi, certainly in 55 TFSI guise is entirely happy to stay in its lane and play its own tune.

There are tons of options, a lot of them you’ll want both to have the full look-at-me presence but also the plethora of digital systems on the inside. The A7 shares some of its architecture with the A8 saloon and it’s a revolution of technology both under the skin and within the cabin. We’ve seen this new treatment launched initially on the Q8 and its now been carried over into this cabin as well as other higher end Audi products. Safety and assistance systems are also smarter and safer, built-in as part of Audi’s progressive nature.

There’s one engine choice at this stage butthe Audi S7 and RS7 will arrive soon. The engine in question though, is the 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 petrol. 250kW and 500Nm through a 7-speed s-tronic transmission. There are no diesels on offer in SA, a decision, we suspect is part of simplifying Audi’s range, something the local team is trying to do going forward.

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Layout, finish and space

Welcome to tech land. It’s quite simply a beautiful place to be. We mentioned the Q8 above and yes this is more of the same. It’s an all-digital interface, angled slightly towards the driver teeming with screens and comfort and assistance systems. Audi pre sense and City Assistance package show what’s possible as far as assisted driving and safety is concerned but whilst we’re not slating the tech itself, we continue to question/be frustrated by using these systems in South Africa. With many motorists that hardly stay between the correct lines or lanes to friendly salespeople at intersections, we find these systems can become quite tiring especially with the constant beeps and screen notifications that show at almost every intersection or when you’re in traffic. Yes you turn them off but what’s the point of that? Moving along…

2 central screens dominate the central stack complemented by the virtual cockpit directly in front of the driver. Configuration and personal profile adjustment is the name of the game at this level. The infotainment system is slick and deeply configurable, but it’s one of the easier systems to navigate and of course, once you’ve learned how to set it all up according to your tastes, it becomes a cohesive driver experience.

Sumptuous seats with heating and cooling as well as electronic adjustment means you’ll always be at home in the car. Then you are blessed with Audi build quality, more legroom than before, 4-zone climate control, 360-cameras and a huge panoramic roof. The A7 will move 5 adults in premium comfort no problem.

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What is it like on the road?

Part of the inclusion of the petrol-powered motor means there’s a level of refinement that current crop of diesels may miss. A7 is an effortless cruiser made so by accessible power but also impeccable sound-proofing. Accelerate hard and there’s a subdued scream of that V6 motor but nothing to annoy the neighbours. Power delivery is smooth and fuss-free and the dual clutch box suitably mated to deliver one of the those wafty, smooth, the world-is-great experiences. It’s telling of Audi’s intentions with this specific model, playing the executive express rather than the sporty bent of some of its competitors. More telling or perhaps equally telling is how the Audi rides. The test unit I drove came fitted with 1 of 4 suspension set ups, the adaptive air-suspension system. It’s a self-levelling system and it does a stellar job of ironing out reasonable road imperfections. We drove the Audi A7 over some corrugated gravel imperfections and it brought out the fact that higher profile tyres, whilst not as sexy, will be more comfortable. And practical to run.

Like its other German challenger, the Audi A7 also makes use of a 48V mild hybrid electric system to increase efficiency bringing regenerative braking to the party but more importantly, an ability to deactivate the engine in a ‘free wheeling’ mode. It’s therefore not as thirsty as you may expect from a large V6 mill, Audi claiming 9.3-litres/100km in urban environments  and down to 5,8-litres in long distance, extra-urban uses. Our combined test registered 8.3-litres/100km.

Another tech-piece under the metal is the use of all-wheel steering that can turn the rears by up to 5 degrees. At speed, the wheels turn in the same direction as the front rubber, but under 60km/h, the wheels turn in opposite directions increasing slow speed agility but also increasing the turning circle radius by just over a metre. Combined with the mostly front-driven quattro system, the Audi A7 boastsloads of grip underneath its graceful exterior. The steering though errs on the softer side – suited to its comfort and luxurious character but less so to sporty driving.

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Running costs and reliability

The Audi A7’s direct competitor really is the Mercedes Benz CLS400d, priced at around R300 000 more than the Audi’s base price. Both these cars require varying levels of specification to truly compare the prices spec for spec. Apart from Mercedes-AMG CLS53, the Benz is only offered with one drivetrain option, a 250kW diesel engine with more torque than the Audi.

There are a few side lying considerations too, perhaps a BMW GC or maybe even a more expensive Panamera?

That said, the standard Audi A7 is arelatively well specified. We’d caution you on getting all the assistance systems, depending on your use of the car. We’d recommend the self-levelling air suspension but it is a R33 000 option. You could opt for Night Vision which is a stunning piece of tech but again, is this something that will be. necessary given your use of the vehicle? It’s a R38 000 option and that’s before the S-line packages, Black styling packages et al. We know you South Africa – your car must look good and those are further options with added pricetags.

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Final thoughts

At a starting price of R1 298 000, buyers in this bracket are going to be considering the SUV lifestyle as well. It’s just the way the world has gone – but the Audi A7 operates in this space as one of the most compelling niche purchases. It’s unmistakeably classy, stunningly designed and rides as comfortably as any other gran turismo you can find.

It’s not trying hard to be sporty and we like that. You want sporty – wait for the RS7 but for a car that will make you feel good from even before you touch the door handle, the Audi A7 is very good. Brand appeal will make a strong case here we’re sure.

Can we have one?

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