After driving Audi’s new tech-fest A7 in South Africa, I found rather a lot I preferred, and some issues I did not
Take into consideration the brand new Audi A7, and your thoughts will in all probability be fixating on its hilariously massive grille. However, there’s rather a lot occurring behind that huge gob, and it’s largely good things. It’s as a lot of a distinct segment automotive because the earlier one, however an interesting factor nonetheless, and it successfully previews its incoming A6 saloon sibling.
Right here’s what we realized after a two-day drive on the automotive’s launch in South Africa:
Driving the Audi A7 is critically enjoyable. The journey from the elective air suspension (an choice that’s value ticking) is impeccably easy, with a caveat – proceedings take a crashy flip if you happen to go for large wheels and the decrease, stiffer S Line suspension. The latter does make a noticeable distinction to physique roll, however on a automotive like this, it doesn’t appear well worth the journey sacrifice.
Noise from the skin world is stored very low in the meantime, and the cabin is completely beautiful. The seats help you in simply the proper means, the leatherwork is gorgeous, and the place specced, the wooden trim seems deliciously good. That is automotive luxurious executed proper.
All of the automobiles we tried in South Africa got here with the energetic rear-wheel steering system, and it does make a distinction. Below 60kmh the rear wheels flip the other method to the entrance ones to help agility, and above that they flip in the identical path within the identify of stability.
Certain sufficient, the A7 does really feel oddly energetic for a near-1900kg automotive in tighter bends, and also you get a sense of nice shock when it doesn’t flop round like a beached whale in demanding higher-speed cornering. However don’t count on the A7 to be a sports-saloon-cum-coupe, as a result of it isn’t.
It’s all very tied down and secure. It’ll fortunately get you from one place to a different competently and really rapidly, however with out a lot in the way in which of pleasure. A Quattro all-wheel drive system which tends to present means into – as you’d count on – good, predictable understeer is an element, however a number of the shortage of thrill issue is all the way down to the engines.
The three.0-litre turbocharged V6 is disarmingly easy and whisper quiet, even with what seems like a little bit synthetic audio enhancement. It’s enjoyable (see our earlier level about refinement), however removed from thrilling. That sort of works within the A7, which makes the petrol model extra interesting over the diesel – the one most will purchase. The latter has a punchier mid-range and can be much more economical, however don’t low cost the petrol.
From the semi-autonomous performance to the trio of screens up entrance, the A7 is stuffed filled with tech. Maybe essentially the most attention-grabbing half although is the ‘delicate hybrid system’ – it’s fairly advanced, so follow us. There’s nonetheless a traditional starter motor, however that is used for chilly begins and chilly begins alone. Each different time the engine fires up, it’s the job of the water-cooled 48-volt belt alternator starter, or ‘BAS’.
There’s a lithium-ion battery within the boot, which might be replenished by as much as 12kW of vitality underneath braking or coasting. Plus, the re-gen might be rigorously managed if the entrance digicam detects a slowing automobile in entrance. Intelligent stuff.
So, what’s the purpose of all that? Effectivity, largely – whereas coasting the engine can disengage completely, and the start-stop perform can improve as much as speeds of 11mph. It may prevent as much as 0.7 litres of gas for each 62 miles you drive, and – our favorite bit – it reduces turbo lag. Because of this the V6 petrol is noticeably extra responsive than you’d count on, though over within the diesel, it hasn’t managed to kill off lag completely.
In a couple of years’ time, 48-volt programs like this are going to be extremely widespread, and thus far, that’s wanting like factor.
I had two very completely different experiences with the A7’s semi-autonomous performance. It’s nonetheless a extra fundamental system (Degree 3 autonomy is being added at a later date, together with a distant parking characteristic), however on my first strive, it appeared like the very best, smoothest system of its kind I’ve but used. Steering inputs felt mild and pure (you possibly can’t say the identical of Volvo’s jerky Pilot Help), the braking was easy and well-timed, and it’ll solely allow you to take your fingers off the wheel for a couple of seconds. Which is the way in which it must be.
However on the second outing, it didn’t appear pleased in any respect. It was always drifting throughout into different lanes, and customarily wanted extra human intervention. Maybe the street markings weren’t as clear – we’re undecided. We’ll want to check the system additional earlier than giving our full verdict.
The beginning worth of £54,940 for the A7 actually is a beginning worth. As is the case with most stuff from Audi – and certainly German automobiles on the whole – you’re going to wish to stick on some choices that can inflate that worth by a big quantity. And proper on the high of your listing must be the Bang and Olufsen sound system – it delivers a deep, crisp and satisfying sound, whether or not you’re taking part in the London Symphony Orchestra or some early Snoop Dogg.
The engine within the petrol A7 is broadly the identical because the one within the S4, with an important distinction: it’s hooked as much as Audi’s ‘S Tronic’ seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, not the ZF-derived eight-speed torque converter computerized. ‘Dangle on,’ you’re in all probability pondering, ‘So the sporty S4 has a standard auto, and the wafty A7 has the snappier DCT?’ Nope, we don’t get it both, and once we requested a couple of of Audi’s technical folks on the launch, we weren’t given a transparent reply as to why.
It’s a disgrace because the diesel A7 does have the auto, and is all the higher for it. It’s the kind of ‘field you rapidly neglect about as a result of it’s so refined in the way in which it really works, and that’s the way it must be for a automotive like this. The DCT then again works very nicely in guide mode, however stick it in auto, and also you’ll discover it simply can’t make its thoughts up whenever you’re altering your throttle inputs.
There’s been an unwritten rule for years that German luxurious automobiles merely should not have a contact display screen. However, little doubt fuelled by the sensible cellphone revolution, Audi is ditching the rotary management for a contact display screen format, which operates, nicely… very similar to a sensible cellphone. I get why – that’s how punters count on to work together with expertise today, however I’m nonetheless adamant that automobiles can’t be handled the identical, just because a rotary controller is less complicated to make use of on the transfer than a contact display screen.
Nonetheless, preserving an open thoughts, what’s the brand new system like? It actually seems spectacular: together with the Digital Cockpit display screen used for the instrument binnacle – which seems sharper than ever – you get a pair of contact screens with a haptic suggestions response, with the largest one measuring 10.1 inches. And sure, the heater controls have been moved to a display screen, however since you possibly can simply go away them up on the decrease 8.6-inch show more often than not, it’s not as huge a difficulty because it could possibly be.
Open thoughts or not although, it simply didn’t appear as intuitive to make use of because the outdated system, and in comparison with BMW’s better-than-ever iDrive system, it’s a little bit too sophisticated. After all it’s a little bit pointless calling it ‘unintuitive’ after driving the automotive for less than two days – precise house owners are going to have longer to get used to it and the unusual-feeling service that wants extra of a push than a contact to function. However is the local weather management ever going to be as simple to make use of on the transfer as if it had bodily controls? I don’t suppose so.
Even with the big grille (Audi’s design folks informed us that, unsurprisingly, that’s as huge because the trapezoid grille goes to get), I’m keen on the way in which the A7 seems. It’s fairly but putting, and combines its neat aesthetics with distinctive luxurious and an obscene quantity of tech. A BMW 6-series Gran Coupe goes to be sportier to drive, however if you’d like one thing smarter and extra enjoyable, the A7 is in one other league. Will the following Mercedes CLS be the higher automotive? We’ll discover out in a couple of weeks once we drive it for the primary time, however for now, it seems just like the bar has been set slightly excessive.