Sportback 55 TFSI e quattro Competition S tronic
you define your car? Or does it
define you? Like it or not, for ninety-
nine point nine percent of us the
answer is always the latter. So what
does driving Audis
a jaunty five-door sportback that
skilfully blends saloon and coupe
say about you?
ASK NOT WHAT you can do for your car but what it can do for you. And
if it's an A7 Sportback as reviewed here, you might be pleasantly surprised…
A big clue is in the small 'e' trailing the 'I' of the 55 TFSI badge on its
boot indicating that this particular A7 is fitted with Audi's plug-in
As such it offers its driver a choice of three driving modes: Hybrid, which
maximises the car's use of combustion and electric-only drive to keep fuel consumption
as low as possible, letting the system automatically juggle electric and petrol,
or a mix of both, for optimum efficiency; in electric-only EV mode the A7 offers
up to 25 miles of emissions-free motoring although pressing harder on the accelerator
will instantly engage the petrol engine for an extra power boost; Battery Hold
mode ring-fences the battery pack's current charge for use later in your journey,
say when entering a city.
a full recharge takes two-and-a-half hours using a wall-charger but even if
you're stuck with a conventional household socket an overnight recovery to full
power is not a problem.
seven-speed S tronic
manages the shifting
and helping to maximise
141.2mpg is achievable)
is quattro ultra
a new active version of
all-wheel drive system
that switches from
all-wheel drive to front-
wheel drive to reduce
friction unless four-paw
traction is essential...
Other features include Intelligent Coasting with Audi's Predictive Efficiency
Assist. Using the SatNav data to 'sense' conditions ahead that improve economy
for instance; coasting up to roundabout or traffic lights, descending
a hill, cutting speed prior to entering a lower speed limit, catching up with
slower vehicles ahead, and upcoming traffic conditions, etc it
will prompt you to lift off (a gentle vibration in the throttle pedal) to ensure
the most efficient driving for each situation. All truly impressive stuff; but
not in any way intimidating.
A seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch autobox manages the shifting and also helping
deliver the best economy (officially 141.2mpg is achievable) is quattro 'ultra'
a new active version of Audi's iconic all-wheel drive system that
switches from all-wheel drive to front-wheel drive to reduce friction unless
four-paw traction is essential.
A regenerative braking system is fitted to the front axle and can generate up
to 80kW of electrical energy to top up the battery pack during deceleration
and, additionally, the electric motor also harvests energy during braking. As
ultra-advanced as its tech is, the TFSI e is nonetheless easy to use. Just drive
and enjoy your reduced carbon footprint!
With 362bhp on tap there's no hanging around when needs must. For the record,
the total system torque (turboed four-cylinder petrol engine plus gearbox-mounted
electric motor) generates a muscular 369lb ft. Flex your right foot and the
electric motor whooshes the A7 off the line; press harder and it's joined by
the 249bhp/273lb ft 2.0-litre petrol engine to provide additional thrust, taking
you to 62mph in a seamlessly rapid 5.7 seconds and on to an electronically-limited
While it's undeniably a big beastie it masks its size well and the streamlined
coupe body is as aerodynamic as it looks. There's even a very subtle active
spoiler built into the bootlid. However, just because it's a five-door coupe
with a steeply sloping roofline doesn't automatically mean a headroom penalty.
A tall driver and equally tall wingman will enjoy a fist+ of it along with plenty
of surrounding personal space. Once aboard, first impressions are of a sumptuous
cabin packed full of supple high-grade leather upholstery that's been stitched
together with meticulous care, and the two central touchscreens along with the
impressive Virtual Cockpit digital instrument display directly ahead of the
uppermost ten-inch central touchscreen is a where your finger goes for the integrated
SatNav, smartphone mirroring (Apple CarPlay/Android Auto), safety, infotainment,
and multiple entertainment options; the 8.6-inch screen below it is reserved
for the full operation of the climate system and the heated seats.
crystal clear graphics
and the menus are quick
better still, each finger
tap generates a fleeting
physical pulse along
with an audible click
to confirm your choice is
accepted and, just like
the more you use it the
slicker it is. Even the
panel is customisable
plus theres plenty of
crossover between the
main screen and the
steering wheels buttons
so you can operate the
system using whatever
best fits in the
Both touchscreens have crystal clear graphics and the menus are quick and user-friendly;
better still, each finger tap generates a fleeting physical pulse along with
an audible 'click' to confirm your choice is accepted and, just
like your smartphone, the more you use it the slicker it is. Even the climate
touchscreen panel is customisable plus there's plenty of 'crossover' between
the main screen and the steering wheel's buttons so you can operate the system
using whatever best fits in the moment.
The Virtual Cockpit's 12.3-inch instrument panel display will also show active
mapping if you choose and can, via the handy steering-wheel buttons, be easily
customised (there are eight core layouts) for appearance and content so you
only see exactly what you want to see.
Like us, you may prefer to reserve the main touchscreen for infotainment and
entertainment and keep the active mapping right in front of you on the digital
instrument panel and cycle through other functions (navigation, driving data,
radio, media, and phone) as and when it suits. Sensibly, the roadspeed is clearly
shown at all times as a digital readout, as too is your active gear and driving
mode as well as navigation prompts; when you're taking orders from the SatNav
the thumbwheel on the left-hand spoke lets you quickly zoom in and out.
Comfort-wise the almost minimalist-styled cabin is a dishy place to hang out.
Acres of brushed satin ally, satin chrome and high-gloss piano black filleting
underscore the top-notch trim and materials this A7 could easily
be a flagship model (although that status is reserved for the A8). While for
some the cutting-edge tech will be the prize, for others it will be the seats
and driving position that cut it.
And they won't be disappointed. The fab seats are well-padded, shapely and comfy
with very effective bolstering; both have full electric operation with 4-way
powered lumbar along with manually extending base cushions. The 3-stage heating
is fast acting and the driver gains a two-setting memory recall. There's also
masses of elbow room between the front seats. Crucially, the driver enjoys an
uninterrupted view down the long, wide, profiled bonnet making placing the five-metre
A7 a doddle.
more tactile pleasure from the sporty, flat-bottomed, S line steering wheel,
its rim wrapped in great-to-hold perforated leather; all the multifunction buttons
are beautifully logical. A Start-Stop engine button saves twisting a key before
you get away and Park is engaged using a dedicated button in the selector knob,
leaving you with just R, N, D/S; the Manual setting +/- is a flick to the left
and there are paddle-shifters on the wheel spokes. Lightly pulling the lever
back from Drive will immediately engage Sport (pull it again and you'll be instantly
back in D). Simplissime!
owners don't go short of kit in addition to the well-stocked infotainment
and driving tech there's plenty of 'must-have' items such as a four-zone climate
control, keyless locking on all four doors, wireless phone charging, heated
sports seats, double-glazed windows, ambient cabin 'pinstripe' feature lighting
with a choice of 30 colours, powered tailgate, sophisticated parking camera
(with a whole host of selectable views including a very useful, sharply detailed
bird's-eye one), front and rear parking sensors, tinted and privacy glass, active
rear boot spoiler, anti-collision braking with lane-keep assist, matrix LED
headlights with scrolling indicators, cruise control, ally pedal set, and 20-inch
it may be but that
mean there isnt
plenty of power on
hand whenever hard
acceleration or a swift
overtake is needed.
Given its head its
pokey from low-down
with more than an ample
to up the pace without
breaking a sweat.
Driven in an everyday
manner it serves up a
and laid-back pace that
blurs the miles...
Expected refinements such as powerfolding heated door mirrors, all one-shot
up/down electric windows, rain lights, automatic dip/main switching, electric
park brake with autohold, frameless auto-dimming rearview mirror, SOS button,
and height-adjustable front seatbelts are also all present and correct.
A brace of six-footers can settle back in the supportive rear seats with backrests
set at a relaxing angle, happily sharing the wide drop-down central armrest
with built-in cupholders (and a handy lidded storage tray) with space above
their heads, generous room for knees and feet, and indulge in a spot of stretching
on longer trips. The rear cab's ambiance matches that found in the front, with
high-grade trimmings and a dual-zone climate touchscreen to maintain travellers
at the perfect temperature.
Getting in and out is easy (the rear doors' windows are frameless like the fronts
and very handy if you need to exit in a tight parking bay). The
long, deep side windows afford expansive views out despite the dark tinted rear
privacy glass. And while three side-by-side is doable, two will travel in decidedly
With eye-catching 255/40 twenty-inch alloys you might expect the A7's ride comfort
to take a hit. It doesn't. Audi's Drive Select system is standard-fit and it
offers a Comfort setting (also on the menu are Efficiency, Auto, Dynamic, and
Individual) that serves up enough fluency and road manners to be a car your
passengers will be content to ride around in, particularly on motorways where
they can chill out in the serene rear cockpit as the A7 wafts along, the outside
hubbub muted and seemingly a world away. That noted, there's enough compliance
not to degrade the handling, so the driver's seat remains an equally rewarding
place to be.
hybrid it may be but that doesn't mean there isn't plenty of power on hand whenever
hard acceleration or a swift overtake is needed. Given its head, it's pokey
from low-down with more than an ample sufficiency mid-range to up the pace without
breaking a sweat. Driven in an everyday manner it serves up an effortless and
laid-back pace that blurs the miles.
enhancing its refinement, the Intelligent Coasting feature lets it switch off
the engine and declutch the transmission between 34mph and 99mph to maximise
fuel consumption. We mostly left our A7's tech to get on with it and, even when
we were unable to charge the battery regularly, were still rewarded with an
sloping tail gives
the impression that the
A7s luggage capacity
may have been clipped
in favour of kerb appeal.
Not true. Whizz open
the powered hatchback-
style bootlid and youll
find a regular shaped
boot with 380 litres of
It would be more but the
battery pack has to go
somewhere and under
the floor is where it lives.
If you need to load to
the glass the rigid rear
can easily be slid out
and stored in the boot.
We managed to stash
enough large carry-on
suitcases for four adults
beneath the parcel shelf
and Audi say two
loaded golf bags
Although the ultra quattro system favours front-wheel drive in the interests
of efficiency whenever it can, that doesn't mean the A7 isn't grippy
the fact that all-wheel drive max-traction is restored quicker than the blink
of an eye when appropriate means the A7 is a dynamic as any other quattro equipped
Audi. Be in no doubt: there are huge grip reserves. The accurate steering is
a tad more grand tourer than out-and-out sports car but, you know, that's just
fine, because it's nicely in-sync with the rest of the car's all-weather roadholding
Body lean is well managed as it squats down and hangs on through the twisties,
eliciting a satisfied smile from the driver whenever the blacktop switches from
arrow-straight to corkscrew. Its USP, and its real strength, is that it's equally
rewarding if you just give it its head and savour its relaxed, mile-eating demeanour.
That sloping tail gives the impression that the A7's luggage capacity may have
been clipped in favour of kerb appeal. Not so. Whizz open the powered hatchback-style
bootlid and you'll find a regular shaped boot with 380 litres of carrying capacity.
It would be more but the battery pack has to go somewhere, and under the floor
is where it lives.
If you need to load to the glass the rigid rear shelf-cum-luggage cover can
easily be slid out and stored in the boot. We managed to stash enough large
carry-on suitcases for four adults beneath the parcel shelf and
Audi say two loaded golf bags will fit.
Fold the split rear seatbacks and you'll have a seamless loadbay that will swallow
1,235 litres. The fast-acting (and closing, too) bootlid can also be operated
from the driver's seat which is a boon, particularly in wet weather. Extending
the better than expected versatility is a large '20' section load-through panel
which facilitates quite bulky, longer items. The usual tie-downs, sturdy pop-out
bag hooks and elasticated nets to keep your cargo shipshape are all included.
The A7 Sportback cuts a debonair dash. Packed with beautifully-presented and
easy-to-grasp high-tech and a superbly fettled cabin, and sporting an efficient
hybrid powertrain, it's a rewarding and refined express. But what does it say
about you? That you're Cool, Classy, Compelling and Credible, no less. Anyone
should be able to live with that! ~ MotorBar
Audi A7 Sportback 55 TFSI e quattro Competition S tronic
Maximum speed: 155mph | 0-62mph: 5.7 seconds | Test Average: 48.9mpg
Power: 362bhp | Torque: 369lb ft | CO2: 46g/km