Audi gives new A7 Sportback an icy glare, progressive styling and plenty of tech
After debuting the all-new A8 a few months ago, Audi is preparing the next member of its evolving, next-gen family, the A7 Sportback. Revealed for the first time on Thursday, the sharp second-generation A7 greets the world with the intent gaze of HD Matrix LED eyes (with lasers!), a big, bold hexagonal grille and a carefully chiseled physique. It keeps the ride quick and taut with the latest dynamic driving technologies, cuts back on consumption with help from mild hybrid tech, and engages the driver by way of a cockpit loaded with digital displays.
The new A7 falls in line with Audi's evolving design language, previewed by the parade of Prologue concepts from 2014 and 2015 and debuted in production form on the new A8. With this evolution, the A7 has been quite noticeably tightened up and further sculpted as compared to the outgoing first-gen A7.
The new car features an upright front-end dominated by the Singleframe grille set lower and wider than on the A8. Air intakes down low and distinctive headlamps up high fill out the handsome face. Buyers will be able to choose from three lighting options, the range-topper being the HD Matrix LEDs with Audi laser light.
The hood enjoys more definition than the bonnet on the first-generation A7 Sportback, which is a function of the creases running back and forth between grille and windshield. The sides, too, have more sharply carved and pinched creases and lines.
As always, the Sportback roofline drops dramatically toward the yacht-like tapered rear-end, giving the car its distinctive sports silhouette. A gentle lip can be seen at the hatch edge, a conspicuous part of the extendable spoiler that deploys at speeds over 75 mph (120 km/h). A thin ribbon of red taillight connects the 13-segment left and right rear lamps, providing a smooth, robust lighting signature that runs fender to fender.
The A7 stretches 196 in (4,969 mm) front to back and stands on a 115-in (2,926-mm) wheelbase. It is 75 in (1,908 mm) wide and 56 in (1,422 mm) high. Wheel options include a set of 21-inchers.
Upon launch, the new A7 Sportback will be offered exclusively with a 335-hp 3.0-liter turbo V6 engine good for 369 lb-ft (500 Nm) of torque, a 5.3-second 0-62 mph (100 km/h) sprint, and a 155-mph (250-mph) top speed. Paired with a seven-speed S tronic, that engine offers an estimated fuel economy of 6.8 L/100km (34.6 mpg US) and estimated CO2 emissions of 154 g/km (247.8 g/mile). The quattro AWD sends power out to all four wheels as needed.
Audi plans to add additional six- and four-cylinder engine options after the start of production, with the full lineup to include both gas and diesel engines.
The sleek profile of the A7 Sportback makes the promise of a sporty, dynamic drive below, perfect for speeding past slower traffic on the highway or cutting around twists with the skill and footing of a professional running back. Audi helps the car deliver with a variety of ride technologies, including available dynamic all-wheel steering, available sport differential and range-topping self-leveling adaptive air suspension. Other suspension options include an electronically controlled damping system, a sport suspension with lowering ride height and conventional steel springs.
All of the engine choices on the new A7 Sportback will work with a mild hybrid system for improved efficiency, a feature also seen on the A8. The hybrid set-up includes a lithium-ion battery and belt alternator starter (BAS) that enables the car to shut down the engine and cruise at speeds between 34 and 99 mph (55 and 160 km/h). When it's time, the engine is seamlessly restarted by the BAS. Brake recuperation helps to refresh the depleted lithium-ion pack. Engine start-stop activates at 14 mph (22 km/h) and utilizes the front camera in automatically restarting the engine at a stop when the car in front begins moving.
Another aspect of the A7's driving kit familiar from the A8 is the range of driver-assistance features. Drivers won't find the Level 3 traffic jam pilot assist, the pièce de résistance of the A8's technological suite, but the A7 does have other advanced Audi AI features, including the remote parking and garage pilots, which will be active sometime in 2018. Both of those systems allow the driver to step out of the A7 while the car maneuvers itself into a parking space or garage. The driver can activate and monitor the process from a smartphone. Those features are supported by up to five radar sensors, five cameras, 12 ultrasonic sensors and a laser scanner, which all fire information to the central controller (zFAS) for processing.
In addition to those advanced "AI" automated driving features, Audi will offer a total of 39 driver-assistance systems split into three available packages.
Audi's mission with the A7 Sportback is to create the look of a coupe with the interior space of a sedan and the versatility of an estate (Avant in Audi-speak). As compared to the outgoing model, the new A7 has an added 0.8-in (21 mm) of interior length, freeing up some knee room for rear passengers. The new car also provides added rear headroom and more loading width in back, where 535 liters of cargo space more than doubles to 1,390 liters when the rear seats are folded down. The available sensor hatch opens and closes with the wiggle of a foot.
Audi fancies its cabin something of a futuristic lounge, blending luxurious comfort with the latest high-tech accoutrements. A slight tilt of the upper 10.1-in MMI infotainment display helps to create a driver-centric layout, further enhanced with the available head-up display and the neat hood of the available 12.3-in virtual cockpit. Below the 10.1-in upper console display, an 8.6-in touchscreen controls interior settings like climate and provides text input. Audi offers the option of voice control, along with all that touch control with haptic/acoustic feedback. MMI radio comes standard, while MMI navigation and navigation plus are available optionally. A range of four audio options is topped by the three-dimensional sound of the Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System.
The A7 Sportback will begin rolling off the Neckarsulm line in February 2018 and will start at €67,800 in Germany (approx. US$80K).