The new Audi A7 is so full of tech it’s like driving a car from the future
Say hello to the 2018 Audi A7 Sportback. It’s the second generation of the German carmaker's five-door luxury coupe, superseding the 4G8 model that made its debut in 2010.
As you can see, the sweepingly pretty design of the first-generation has been overhauled from front to back without straying too far from the original design formula that gave it the A7 that stunning visual presence.
The boffins at Audi have also been busy reworking the new A7 from the ground-up under the skin as well. Packing in a NASA rivalling level of technology into that pretty body, making this new car a technological powerhouse with wheels and headlights.
So, with an achingly pretty redesign and an array of new-era technology is the new A7 any good to drive?
Space age cabin packed with futuristic tech
On the inside, the new A7 has been hit with the makeover stick in just about every section, and it shows. Pretty much every control for the car is now contained within what Audi call “MMI Touch Response.”
This setup consists of a pair of touch screens, the first being a centrally mounted 10.1-inch TFT for navigation with a lower 8.6-inch screen taking care of all of the heating and cooling functions. It’s reminiscent of having a pair of full-sized tablets in your dashboard, as both are simple and intuitive to use allowing you to click, swipe or zoom your way to the menu you need with ease.
As you’d expect for a premium car, everything is trimmed and fitted to the highest quality. A nice touch is the angle of the screens and controls which are all squarely aimed at the driver, giving it a driver-focused feel with all of the essential controls sensibly laid out in easy reach.
One really cool feature that does leave other carmakers trailing in Audi’s wake is the virtual cockpit dial display. This system can be switched between varying display modes dependant on the dial size you want. After only a few hours though, it just becomes familiar and easy to use, while giving the driver access to all of the essential information needed to focus on the business end of driving.
The double glazed windows mean that at speed that the new A7 is a remarkably quiet place to be. Add to this the hugely comfortable S-Line sports seats, and you have yourself a car with continent-crossing levels of comfort.
Swooping design and killer visuals
The previous generation A7 was a great looking car, packing huge amounts of visual presence thanks to that sports coupe design. This new version delivers more of the same, with every line sharpened or redesigned to bring it into 2018.
At the front, it has the new Audi design language with the trademark sharper grille, and a very cool looking pair of ‘HD Matrix’ LED headlights. The now familiar sweeping coupe roof-line ends with the redesigned rear end sporting an LED rear light cluster across its entire width.
Audi could have chosen to rework the A7, but here they have nailed it spot on. As this new-generation looks every inch the premium coupe in the metal.
Diesel and electric power combine for maximum grunt
My test car was the A7 Sportback 50 TDI Quattro version you see here. For those of you not up on the news, this new naming structure uses the kW power output of the car. Quickly translated, the 50 TDI packs a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 engine pushing 282bhp (286PS) and 457lb-ft (620Nm) of torque to all four wheels via an eight-speed Tiptronic gearbox. Unlike the diesel engines of old, this 3.0-litre unit is quiet and refined while emitting a nice-sounding burble when you dial in all that power.
This conventional powerplant is assisted by Audi’s new 48V “Mild-Hybrid” system. It works via a lithium-ion battery located in the rear axle of the car alongside a starter/generator system at the front allowing it to coast at speeds from 34mph and 99mph when the throttle is disengaged. It also recovers up to 12kW of energy during braking or coasting which is stored in the battery pack. All of this tech combines to give the A7 Sportback 50 combined fuel economy of 48.7mpg while emitting just 150g/km of C02.
All of this combines for a 0-62mph time of 5.7 seconds and a limited top speed of 155mph. In the real world, maximum torque is fully usable from just 2250rpm making swift progress very easy when planting the throttle hard. It’s a simple case of put your foot down, it finds the right gear in a millisecond, and off you go with virtually zero fuss, no turbo lag and the horizon approaching fast in front of you.
At higher speeds, this torque-laden motor gives you a wave of instant on-tap grunt and gathers pace rapidly without any drama at all, making short work of overtaking and motorway sliproads.
Quattro power equals near unbreakable grip
The Quattro all-wheel-drive system has been with us for nearly four decades now. My test car boasted the latest generation version with an optional Sport differential that distributes the power among the wheels wherever it’s needed the most.
It was also equipped with the optional dynamic four-wheel steering system. This genuinely makes a big difference to the way the car drives, combining with the precise steering and the all-wheel-drive system to give both excellent low-speed manoeuvrability and added stability at high-speed.
Despite its sizeable dimensions and that 1,880kg kerbweight, all of this Quattro and steering tech allows to you hustle this big luxury coupe through the bends at a quick pace with only a hint of body roll to show for your efforts. All in, the handling setup is very accomplished meaning that it’s an easy car to drive quickly on challenging roads.
Of all of the selectable modes, the individual setup proved best, with everything turned to ‘dynamic’ aside from the optional air suspension, which we left in comfort setting. Despite the pot-holed and pitted roads of Northamptonshire attempting to unsettle the big Audi, this system soaked it all up with relative ease to give a strong combination of decent ride quality and taut handling when the going gets twisty.
Self-parking and protection from the world
Audi has introduced their “parking pilot” and “garage pilot” to the new A7. Both are fairly obvious by their name in that the car can park itself without the need for the driver to be in the car. You can monitor this via your smartphone, meaning it’s useful and cool in a rise-of-the-machines kind of way.
These systems work via an array of cameras, radars and laser scanners dotted throughout the bodywork that gives the car a 360-degree view of its surroundings. It means that your A7 will do a better job of parking itself than you ever could.
All in, buyers can spec up to 39 different driver assistance systems across three packages. These include such useful accident countermeasures that will intervene on your behalf if the car detects an impact is imminent.
With this new generation car, Audi has done a fantastic job of getting the redesign spot on sticking close to the design formula ensuring that the A7 continues to be one of the best looking cars in its segment.
Add to this the colossal amount of tech under the skin, all of which is intuitive and easily useable combining to make the A7 a great car to drive. If you’re looking for a stunning coupe with the all-weather ability and a wealth of ability then look no further.
Prices from £57,840 (as tested £77,045)
All images - Audi UK/ Matt Vosper