Audi A7 Sportback 50 TDI quattro S line tiptronic MHEV
- P11D Value: £54,940
- BIK Band 2018/19: 34%
- 5-door, 5-seater Sportback
- 286ps/620Nm, 3.0-litre V6 diesel/8 speed automatic
- Economy (com)/CO2: 48.7mpg/150g/km
- Performance: 5.7secs/155mph
What is it?
THE Audi A7 Sportback is the sleek-looking five-door hatchback that you expect to see parked in the managing director’s spot of an SME company car park.
Based on the same chassis as the A6 saloon and Avant estate, the A7 Sportback features a lower roofline, sweeping tailgate styling and more aggressive grille and wheels to give an individual and sporty appeal to its styling.
At launch there are two engine choices – a 340ps 3.0-litre petrol or 286ps 3.0-litre diesel available in either Sport or S line trims.
Four-cylinder petrol and diesel versions are due later in 2018, with performance S and RS models expected in 2019.
For this review we concentrate on the diesel-badged 50TDI in Sport trim, the most cost-effective business motoring entry to the range.
For the launch phase, Audi expects the diesel to remain the best-seller, although petrol engines are expected to double their share of the mix at launch to 30% thanks to reduced costs of running the 55 TSI model.
Company car tax bands for the new Audi A7 Sportback start from 32% for the petrol 55 TFSI quattro Sport 340PS S Tronic model; the topline A7 TDI quattro S Line 286PS Tiptronic falls into the 35% bracket.
Why would you want to drive an A7 Sportback?
- The appeal of the A7 Sportback is a strong blend of sharp styling, refined driving manners and effortless performance. The fastback body makes a big visual impact and this Gen 2 model looks better-resolved than the seven-year old Gen 1. Audi has also excelled itself with yet another beautifully-executed interior. The twin touchscreens are similar to those already launched in the A8, but housed in a more-shapely fascia highlighted with a broad cabin-wide metallic strip.
- The heart of the 50TDI is Audi’s smooth-hauling 3.0-litre V6 diesel, equipped with oxidising NOx catalyst, particulate filter and exhaust gas recirculation, plus 48V mild-hybrid technology. Audi says it has been certified to the latest WLTP, real-world driving cycle, also known as EU6d. The AdBlue tank is a respectably-sized 24 litres, hopefully sufficient to reduce the frequency of top-ups.
- The 50TDI powers the A7 on a wave of torque and makes for effortless cruising with plenty of overtaking urge at speed. It never feels really fast, but always quick enough, delivering deceptive acceleration thanks to a refined power delivery, helped by the eight-speed ZF automatic, which slurs changes smoothly.
- Audi quotes 48.7mpg (150g/km) on 20 inch wheels, while 19 inch wheel versions rate 50.4mpg (147g/km). The wheels also affect the ride quality, of course, so there’s a decision to be made trading off looks/mpg on the big wheels or economy/ride on the smaller.
- The 48V mild-hybrid technology also helps bring running costs of the 55TFSI petrol closer to the diesel. CAP residual values are predicted at 40% for the TFSI against 37.9% for the diesel.
- A7 Sportbacks in Sport trim are all equipped with steel spring suspension as standard, which adds a pleasing extra level of steering responsiveness, but the downside is a crashier ride on pock-marked roads.
What might put you off an A7 Sportback?
- The new A7 has a roomier interior than the old model, but rear head and kneeroom are still tighter than an SUV or saloon. And rear passengers sit in a lower position surrounded by a reduced glass area.
- If you want to carry a family load of large suitcases on the airport run, luggage volume is compromised.
- Like most multi-cylinder diesels, the 50TDI can stumble at lower speeds when asked to pull smartly out of slower junctions and corners.
- We won’t have pricing for the A6 saloon and A6 Avant estate for some months, but it’s a fair bet the A7 will carry a significant premium. If your business motoring budget can’t quite stretch to an A7, those models will do a very similar job, if with less style.
- If you’re an SME director considering the Audi A7 Sportback as a company car, then the company car tax is a consideration – at £620 per month for a 40% tax payer that’s less than you will pay for a personal lease deal on an A7 but a cash alternative to fund that personal lease may be worth closer inspection
Verdict on Audi A7 Sportback
The new Audi A7 Sportback is a more mature replacement for its predecessor with improved dynamics, refinement and styling.
That’s enough to strengthen its hand against similar models from Mercedes and BMW.
The new range of mild-hybrid engines with improved petrol mpg (48.9mpg), and stronger values when you come to sell also close the gap in running costs between petrol and diesel.
And that makes the new A7 Sportback a much stronger contender in its second generation version for business motoring users.
What else should you know about the new A7 Sportback?
- The equipment levels on the new A7 are so extensive that up to 39 different driver assistance packages feature on the price list. But those options come at a cost — it is quite easy to raise the base price by playing fast and loose with the options list. For example, we also tried the £56,955 50TFSI and the price was lifted to £77,045 with 16 options ticked.
- We also tried the 55TFSI on S line suspension with adaptive air suspension, a £2000 option, and it definitely rolls with more isolation, even on 20inch wheels. The downside for keener drivers is reduced steering wheel feedback. So that’s horses-for-courses: air suspension for plush comfort, steel springs to satisfy the inner-driving demon.
- The 55 TFSI was also equipped with £1900 worth of dynamic all-wheel steering, but we still preferred the more honest cornering manners and feedback on the steel-sprung chassis.
- Audi’s 48V mild-hybrid MHEV technology is centred on a water-cooled belt-driven alternator-starter. Up to 12KW of energy can be recouperated by the generator and is stored in a lithium ion battery mounted in the boot.
- The MHEV can’t power the A7, but it takes the load off the electrical system and allows coasting and more sophisticated stop/start operations. In use, the coasting function operates very smoothly and is very hard to detect.
- Strangely, the A7 also features a conventional lead-acid battery and pinion-engage starter motor. The latter required for cold starts.
- The optional dynamic all-wheel steering reduces the turning circle at low speeds by 1.1metres to 11.1 by turning the rear wheels up to five degrees in the opposite direction to the fronts. At speed, they turn up to two degrees in the same direction.
- The latest 12.3inch version of Audi’s very clear virtual cockpit is standard on the A7. In the centre console, the upper 10.1inch TFT controls menus, while the lower 8.6 inch TFT controls ventilation, heated seats and other convenience features. As a result, the A7’s interior is largely free of buttons.
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