- Only one petrol and two diesels
- All are turbocharged V6 units
- Four-cylinder engines come later
Picking the A7 for you shouldn’t be too difficult, with just three engine choices available to order from launch: two diesels and one petrol.
If the names confuse you, you’re not alone. They been formed with a number (in this case 45, 50 and 55) representing the power on offer, as opposed to the size of the engine.
It share the same eight-speed automatic gearbox as the 50 and Quattro all-wheel drive, which all A7s come with, and wafts the A7 along with ease – 0-62mph takes 6.5 seconds, while the top speed is limited to 155mph.
The more powerful 50 TDI uses the same basic engine but with 286hp and 620Nm of torque, making it a bit of a beast for overtaking manoeuvres and effortless motorway performance.
The 0-62mph sprint is taken care of in 5.7 seconds and it’ll also go on to reach 155mph top speed
On the move, it’s a refined engine unless you really push hard and rev it out to get up to speed. Then you’ll realise it’s a diesel, but otherwise it’s a smooth, hushed performer that hauls along the A7 with ease. Thanks to Quattro all-wheel drive, traction when pulling away is guaranteed, but the gearbox holds the car back in some situations, taking its time to decide which gear to be in and sometimes making progress a little less smooth than you might expect from a big barge like the A7.
Audi S7 Sportback
The top of the tree (for now at least) is the diesel powered S7 - sharing its engine and performance figures with the Audi S6 Saloon and Avant.
Under the bonnet is essentially the same 3.0-litre V6 as you'll find in the 50TDI, with many reinforcements anbd revisions including the pistons, crank, cylinder and cooling circuit, plus a more powerful oil pump and injectors.
The 48v mild-hybrid system and its lithium ion battery in the boot allows for 40 seconds engine free coasting, and in this application also powers a 7Kw electric supercharger.
This improves engine responsiveness and provides power at the low end of the rev range, meaning 349hp and 700Nm of torque, good for a 5.1-second 0-62mph time.
The 55 TFSI is also a 3.0-litre V6 unit, producing 340hp and 500Nm of torque. With Quattro all-wheel drive and a seven-speed S Tronic gearbox as standard, the 55 TFSI will complete the 0-62mph sprint in 5.3 seconds, and will also go on to reach 155mph like the diesel.
While the petrol engine uses a fast-shifting S Tronic dual-clutch transmission, the diesels feature an eight-speed torque converter auto.
We found that this gearbox can hold the car back in some situations – such as pulling away from junctions under partial throttle. Press harder and the A7 responds with a huge burst of speed, making it hard to find a comfortable middle ground.
On the move it seems to take its time to decide which gear to use and sometimes makes progress a little less smooth than you might expect from a big barge like the A7.
It’s much better when using the steering wheel mounted paddles, but that’s not really the point of an automatic gearbox.
- The A7 Sportback is a big car to haul around
- Handles well with taut body control
- Firm ride is standard, but other options available
The way the A7 handles hangs heavily on which model you go for, and whether you opt for any non-standard suspension and damping set-ups.
While the A7 Sportback Sport comes with steel suspension, the higher-spec S Line comes with 10mm lower suspension that has a noticeable impact on the way the car rides. It’s much firmer and it can feel a little fidgety, not helped by the large alloy wheels fitted as standard.
However, there are a few options to consider to sort this issue out. Adaptive suspension can be selected to configure the way it rides and handles, or you can opt for air suspension which improves things considerably. If you want the car to be floaty, it can deliver, but it can also be firmed up. It works well as the A7 has good body control in all set-ups.
However, there’s another option to consider – rear-wheel steering. Customers can only spec this with one of the other optional suspension set-ups, and it works by turning the rear wheels against the front ones at low speeds to boost manoeuvrability, while at higher speeds they go with the front wheels to make it more stable.
On a set of twisting turns, the A7 feels much more agile than its heft suggests, especially with rear-wheel steering. It can take a little getting used to, though, and you may find yourself turning into a corner a bit more enthusiastically than you might have originally anticipated.
However, once used to it, it all combines to make the A7 feel light and agile, and quite a good deal of fun if you tweak the settings in the Drive Select system. Here you can change how comfortable you want the suspension to be, the weight of the steering and how responsive the engine is.
In all modes, the steering doesn’t offer much in the way of feedback from the road, but in Dynamic mode it doesn’t feel too artificially heavy. Most drivers will leave it in Comfort or Auto, making things nice and easy, but not so vague that it doesn’t fill the driver with confidence.