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Audi A7 Sportback

The range expansion from premium brands into ever smaller niches continues apace, and when the A7 Sportback was first revealed by Audi back in 2011, there were worries about whether this was a sector too far. A five-door fastback car that is largely based on the A6, but with a price tag that is closer to the A8 luxury car, the A7 has sold more than 2,400 examples each year it has been on sale in the UK, which are respectable figures.
Late last year, a revised edition of the car went on sale, sporting a reprofiled front grille, new LED headlights and rear clusters, updated bumpers and wider trapezoidal outlets for the twin exhausts. Inside, there's changes to the decor and upgrades to the infotainment system, and in-car wi-fi for the first time.
Here we test the latest A7 with the most powerful diesel engine in the line-up, the barnstorming 316bhp 3.0-litre twinturbocharged unit with a mighty 479lb ft of torque. Strong mid-range torque means that there's plenty of overtaking oomph, and the smooth multitronic gearbox has eight steps interlaced. The engine is hushed with no hint of clatter, delivering an intoxicating growl when you work the right hand pedal. The retuned steering has better feel than before, but doesn't give as much fun on backroads as we had hoped.
The handling is neat and tidy, with plenty of grip from the quattro all-wheeldrive system, but there's a slight wallow when cornering, even though the body stays relatively flat. And while you may expect a limousine-like ride on a car of this ilk and price tag, Audi engineers have given it a firm set-up, not helped by the sizeable 20-inch wheels fitted to the test car. But even so, it manages to remain relatively comfortable on all but the heavily rutted of roads.
And those large wheels have another downside, too, as they serve up far too much road and tyre noise, though thankfully any sounds from the wind is kept nicely muted. There's only one word that can adequately describe the cabin of the A7, and that's exquisite. The designers have done a great job in providing a stylish interior, coupled with top-notch, beautifully finished materials. The supportive seats are hugely comfortable, with lots of adjustable available to gain a perfect driving position that is set low, yet commanding.
The instruments are a model of clarity, and all of the controls are logically arranged for ease of use. A rotary dial operates the infotainment system, and the screen pops up electrically every time you start the car. Oddment space is well catered for, with a variety of differently sized storage areas, and space for front seat passengers is pretty good. In the back, taller passengers may find that their hair is brushing the headlining, due to the sloping roof, but generally leg room is alright.
The fastback rear end means that the A7 is pretty versatile, though outright space isn't as generous as you would expect due to a shallow boot area. The opening is quite high, too, but the rear space can easily be extended by folding the rear chairs down flat. Price £59,080
Made in Neckarsulm, Germany
Configuration 5-door hatchback, 5-seats, four-wheel-drive
Drivetrain 2967cc, V6, 24-valve, twinturbocharged diesel with stop-start and selective catalyst reduction
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Power output 316bhp @ 3,900-4,600rpm
Maximum torque 479lb ft @ 1,400-2,800rpm
Top speed/0-62mph 155mph/5.2 secs
CO2 emissions (tax band) 167g/km (H) Euro 6
Economy (urban/extra urban/combined) 37.2/50.4/44.8mpg
Fuel tank size/range 73 litres/719 miles
Insurance group/BIK rate 45/31%
Size (length/width with mirrors) 4,974/2,139mm
Boot space (minimum/maximum) 535/1,390 litres
Kerb/max towing weight 1,895/2,100kg

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