At the end of my week with the new four-door Audi A7 Sportback 50 TDI, I checked my average fuel consumption. The read-out from the onboard computer was unbelievable, simply incredible.
Neil Lyndon drives the Audi A7 tiptronically for a week and is rather taken with it.
I scrolled through the system again to make sure I was getting the final average for the whole week, not the figure for trundling down my drive at the end of my last trip. The number that came up was the same. It was still unbelievable. It was 40.1 mpg.
We are wearily accustomed to true fuel consumption figures not remotely bearing any relation to the claims of the manufacturers; but, in this case, the true figure was at least 25% better than the one I had been expecting.
On pretty much every day of my week with the A7, I had given it what, in technical terms, we call a proper seeing-to. With nearly 300 bhp and 620 Nm of torque from the V6 TDI, this fabulous car has genuine GT capabilities not far off the league of Bentley and Maserati and I enjoyed them to the max on the empty roads around the Scottish hills where I Iive. For at least 50% of my time with the A7, the eight-speed transmission was set to Sport and I was operating it tiptronically through the paddles on the steering wheel for maximum power out of corners. At the same time, the chassis (based on the A8 Audi flagship) was set to Dynamic and the speed-dependent power steering was working hard in its optional setting for four-wheel steering.
All in all, then, it might have been an entirely fair result if the final fuel consumption figure had been less than 30 mpg. I wouldn’t have been completely surprised if it had been in single figures (to match the 7.4 mpg I once heroically recorded in a McLaren borrowed for an afternoon from Woking and enjoyed around Hampshire). For it to turn out to be roughly the same as you would expect from a Skoda Octavia going about its regular family business was straining credibility. In this context, the 48.7 mpg claimed by Audi for this model seems entirely believable.
The fuel consumption figures are, however, the very least of the astonishments on offer with this A7. Jaw-dropped amazement is the order of the day.
The looks are to savour and drool over. Almost five metres long and as sleek and smooth as a porpoise, the body of the A7 Sportback could get you out of bed at night to go outside and take one last look and run your hand over those gorgeous pressings. I couldn’t get enough of gazing at the exhaust tailpipes, which are like narrow organ pipes set horizontally below the bumper. The boot is so long it makes you laugh out loud. It can’t be far short of the wheelbase of an original Mini – however, the steeply raking fastback rear naturally makes it shallow. You wouldn’t get a sea-trunk in here but, then again, you wouldn’t try.
This is a car for speeding an eager and willing lover on high roads across France with no third party in the rear seats except, perhaps, a picnic hamper.
Nobody would want to be there for long, in any case. That fastback rear restricts outward visibility for rear-seat passengers and when I was transporting my older daughter and her boyfriend, they both mildly complained of motion sickness – though that might have had more to do with the style of driving than the accommodation.
The interior is rapturous – almost as luxurious and immaculate as an A8. All A7s come with Audi’s 12.3” Virtual Cockpit digital display set-up as standard, teeming with touchscreen infotainment systems that talk to each other through the centre console, the dashboard and the steering wheel. One small gripe must be recorded regarding the ultra-cool glossy black surfaces of that so-called touchscreen, however: you have to tap and press it with your fingertip so frequently and so hard to get it to respond that the whole glittering surface is soon mired in messy fingerprints.
Every time I got in the A7 at night, I had to mess around with the controls for the ambient lighting, trying to find a colour to match my mood. Every time I drove passengers at night, I had to show off to them the delightful stunt this car’s headlights perform when you switch from dipped to main beam: the lights part and spread like theatre curtains being drawn apart.
Everybody who got in the car and plenty of people passing by on the pavement wanted to know how much this A7 would cost to buy. I had to reply that I hadn’t got a clue because I hadn’t checked. “Whatever the price,” I kept answering, “it’s worth it.”
When finally I did check, I found that the all-in price for my car would have been £66,665 – which merely confirmed what I had been saying all along.
Car reviewed: Audi A7 Sportback 50 TDI (3.0) quattro tiptronic 286PS - On the road £56,955 - Prices with options as tested £66,665 0-62mph 5.7 secs Top speed 155mph Fuel Economy combined 48.7mpg CO2 emissions 1507g/km Engine 2967cc V6 unleaded 6-cylinder EU6 Max Power 286PS@3500-4000rpm Torque 620Nm@2250-3000rpm Transmission 8-speed tiptronic/automatic, quattro permanent all-wheel drive
An astonishingly great car
Looks to savour and drool over
A laughably huge boot
I had to give it back
What the others say about the Audi A7 Sportback on YouTube...
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