by Morgan Carter
The Audi A7 Sportback turned heads when a new generation debuted last year, with its punchy turbocharged V6 engine developing 335 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, its handsomely appointed interior, and its striking exterior. The second-generation of Audi's four-door coupe, it faces stiff competition from similarly swoopy four-doors in the form of the Mercedes-Benz CLS and the Porsche Panamera, giving the Audi the upper hand when it comes to striking design.
The mild-hybrid powertrain gives the luxury midsize four-door a surprising amount of verve from the get-go, and it handles remarkably well for such a large, hefty vehicle. Add to this its spacious trunk and a long list of standard and available features, and it's an Audi worth paying $69,000 for. But when the A6 offers the same package in more affordable wrapping, the A7 Sportback needs to justify a $15k price premium for the sake of style. Game on.
In the second year since the second-generation's debut, the Audi A7 remains unchanged mechanically. However, a brief reshuffling of equipment across the three trims has taken place. Automatic high beams and lane departure warning now come standard, along with Amazon Alexa. The Cold Weather Package has been discontinued, but some of its features, such as a heated steering wheel, have been reassigned to other packages. The optional DVD player is no longer available, either.
The Audi A7 has just undergone a full redesign for the 2019 model year, with wide, rounded wheel arches and raised grooves along the hood and profile of the body. A blacked-out grille with chrome surrounds takes up most of the front fascia overlapping the body-colored bumper. Signature headlights curve upwards from the grille, available in standard LED, enhanced HD LED, and with Audi laser light elements - all with newfangled LED daytime running lights. The roof slopes down in the rear in classic coupe style to a solid LED taillight strip with an extendable adaptive rear spoiler. The Sportback rides on 19-inch wheels as standard, with optional 20- or 21-inch variants.
As the second-largest four-door offering from Audi, the A7 stands at an intimidating 195.6 inches long, with a 115.2-inch wheelbase. With its sleeker Sportback styling, the 'sedan' remains low to the ground with an overall height of just 56 inches, but the impression is that it's even lower due to a body width of 75.1 inches without mirrors. The Audi A7 also weighs in as a heavyweight, with a curb weight of 4,332 pounds. This is on par with segment rivals like the Mercedes CLS at 4,255 lbs, while the Porsche Panamera is a little lighter at 4,157 lbs.
A wide variety of paint colors comprise the palette for the A7 Sportback, with few limitations on options. Standard across the range are Brilliant Black and Ibis White. The metallic hues make up the premium palette and comprise hues such as Avalon Green, Carat Beige, Firmament Blue, Florett Silver, Soho Brown, Triton Blue, Typhoon Gray, and Vesuvius Gray, each for an additional $595. The Premium Plus and Prestige get access to one additional metallic paint, Tango Red - a bold and striking $595 choice that takes the color palette to 13 options in totality. If none of those run-of-the-mill options takes your fancy, though, for a hefty surcharge of $3,900 you can choose from a list of over 50 exclusive paints to customize your Audi.
With 335 hp and 369 lb-ft on tap from the V6 engine, performance isn't really where the A7 shines, but it isn't a weak point, either. The large Sportback won't seem too quick when left to its own devices in the more relaxed drive and transmission modes, but flip the switches towards Sport and Dynamic handling, and the Audi is able to run the 0-60 mph sprint in as little as 5.2 seconds, no mean feat for such a heavy vehicle. The similarly powered all-wheel-drive Mercedes CLS 450 shaves only 0.4 seconds off this time, while the high-performance Porsche Panamera makes the dash in 5.2 seconds in its standard guise. Both these rivals offer higher-performing models that blow the Audi A7 out of the water, thanks to its single powertrain option, but the S7 is available if you need extra performance. However, if you're after a rear-wheel-drive experience, you'll need to look elsewhere, as the Audi is only available with quattro AWD, while Mercedes sells the CLS in both RWD and AWD variants.
The Audi A7 is powered by a combination of a 3.0-liter turbo V6 and a 48-volt mild-hybrid system. The overall output of 335 hp and 369 lb-ft is directed via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox to all four wheels. The Quattro Ultra all-wheel-drive focuses power on the front wheels unless the performance or handling needs require intervention from the rear wheels. The drivetrain can be switched between four modes - Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, or Individual - while the transmission offers two modes - Normal and Sport.
While the numbers don't look overly impressive on paper, the powertrain is certainly not lacking. Sticking to Comfort/Normal will result in a more relaxed driving experience, but selecting Dynamic/Sport will see the engine pushed to perform, and perform it does. Getting around town will seem slow when compared to the impressive passing power provided on the highway, which is sufficiently aided by the hit of electric torque to minimize the effects of turbo lag. It's not the most athletic four-door coupe on the market, but the Audi A7 is still extremely enjoyable to drive. Acceleration is quick and eager, especially when the drive and transmission modes are set for performance. This also helps to reduce the slightly noticeable lag before the turbo kicks in. But once it initializes, thrust is eager and energetic. The automatic transmission finds the correct gear easily and isn't afraid to downshift when needed.
Although the powertrain of the A7 is eager, the rest of the package has a tendency to be a bit sterile. The steering is a bit too disconnected from the wheels to be considered high-performance, but inputs are registered quickly and the sedan turns without too much fuss. Taking sharper turns at high speeds can lead to some body roll, but the suspension does a good job of limiting it. Opting for the S-Line packages makes the A7 a little more agile, but it can't keep up with the nimble Porsche Panamera.
The Sportback supplies an extremely plush ride, though. Road abrasions are well dampened by the suspension, and even the firmer sport suspension doesn't transmit much vibration into the cabin. Mid-corner bumps are absorbed with remarkable ease, but taking those turns too fast can adversely affect ride comfort. The top-tier Prestige trim offers the option of installing adaptive chassis damping and all-wheel-steering, which changes the way the sedan behaves on the road. This makes the A7 much more maneuverable at low speeds, while improving its stability at higher speeds. The damping also does a much better job of absorbing road imperfections, delivering a velvety-smooth ride.
Despite the interior being plushly appointed, it doesn't deal well with road and wind noise. These are constant companions during drives, especially at higher speeds. However, neither is overly loud and turning the sound system on to even a low setting can usually drown them out.
Despite the addition of a mild hybrid component to the standard V6 powertrain, the Audi A7 does not achieve particularly impressive mileage figures. With only one engine and drivetrain offered, the A7 gets a standard fuel economy of 22/29/24 mpg across the city/highway/combined segments. This isn't too different from class rivals, with the Porsche Panamera getting 19/27/22 mpg, while the Mercedes CLS is able to cover a more impressive 24/31/26 mpg. With a 19.3-gallon tank full of premium gasoline, the A7 Sportback can travel for up to 463 miles before needing to refuel.
The Sportback design of the A7 gives it a more cockpit-like interior, but it doesn't lack passenger space, at least not up front. The cabin is well-appointed with high-quality material and sports stylish German good looks. The controls for the many features are laid out well, but the infotainment system can be a bit tricky to navigate with its dual screens. While rear passenger space is a bit restricted, there is ample cargo capacity. An available 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and head-up display give the interior an even more high-tech feel.
The sedan may be sleeker than the usual fare, but it is still rated to carry five passengers, although four seems like a more reasonable expectation. The seats are highly comfortable, despite lacking advanced adjustability options like thigh extensions or side bolsters. Eight-way power front seats with lumbar and driver memory come standard, with available 12-way or 18-way power front seats. Despite the low roofline, the cabin provides enough headroom for the average adult. Legroom up front is excellent, but the rear seats can only accommodate shorter adults with 37 inches of legroom. Visibility is quite good, assuming you are tall enough to see over the dash, with excellent side and rear visibility.
Right from the start, the A7 comes upholstered in leather, with plenty of soft-touch embroidered leather around the dashboard and door panels. Construction is impeccable with a choice of upholstery/stitch options: Black/Rock Gray or Okapi Brown/Steel Gray, each with Black/Moon Silver accents, or Pearl Beige/Agate with Granite Gray/Moon Silver accents. Interior trim options include Fine Grain Ash Natural Brown Wood or Dark Brown Walnut Wood. The $3,000 Luxury Package upgrades the upholstery to Valcona leather with an additional color option, Sarder Brown/Rock Gray with Granite Gray/Moon Silver accents.
While the interior of the A7 isn't overly generous with space, there is quite a bit of cargo capacity, largely thanks to the hatchback style of the trunk. Behind the rear seats, buyers are presented with an impressive 24.9 cubic feet of space. This is more than enough space for over a dozen grocery bags, or close to as many carry-on bags. This makes the large sedan a more than adequate daily driver for errand-running around town or even taking the family for a short jaunt away over the weekend. The rear seats can be folded down in a 40/20/40 split to free up a little extra space for larger items, although official figures have not been provided.
Small-item storage is quite stingy, though. There are two cupholders in the front and two in the rear, but all four are on the small side. The front and rear armrests each supply a storage tray, but these, too, are small. The glove compartment is large but difficult to access for anyone but the front passenger, although there is another cargo bin beside the steering wheel.
Even the entry-level Premium is well-equipped with a list of high-tech features, both comfort and convenience. Tri-zone climate control is standard, although quad-zone climate control is available on the Prestige. The interior is upholstered in leather and eight-way power front seats with lumbar adjustment are equipped to the Premium, while upper trims get heated and ventilated 12-way power front seats with memory functions. A panoramic sunroof lightens up the interior, while a hands-free power liftgate makes accessing the trunk easier. Other standard features include keyless entry and ignition, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering column, and a seven-inch driver information display. A larger 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster is available, along with adaptive cruise control, and a head-up display. Safety features comprise front and rear sonar, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and active lane assist.
The infotainment suite on the Audi is controlled via a dual-screen interface, with an 8.8-inch upper screen and an 8.6-inch lower. Via these screens, users can access Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, SiriusXM, HD Radio, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, and navigation functions. All sound is played back through the standard ten-speaker sound system, while four USB ports are provided throughout the cabin to keep everyone connected. The upper trims get an upgraded 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, a larger 10.1-inch upper touchscreen, and a wireless charging pad with a phone signal booster. An even more premium 19-speaker B&O sound system is available as a standalone upgrade.
J.D. Power gives the Audi Sportback a high dependability rating of 84 out of 100. The sedan has only received minor complaints, but no official recalls have been issued since it was redesigned in 2019. Audi offers a standard warranty plan of 50,000 miles/48 months for both its limited and powertrain warranties, while roadside assistance is offered for 48 months with no mileage limits.
While the NHTSA has not yet crash-tested the A7, the IIHS awards the sedan a rating of Good across the board. The vehicle also earned the institute's Top Safety Pick award in 2019 with the best-available scores of Good in most tests.
The Sportback gets a fair number of standard safety features, with even more available to add on. ABS and EBD are complemented by six airbags: dual front, front side, and side curtain. Rear seat side airbags can be optioned, increasing the total number of airbags to eight. A rearview camera, front and rear sonar, forward collision avoidance, lane departure warning, and rain-sensing wipers comprise the standard safety suite. Available features include a surround-view camera, vehicle exit warning, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist, side collision warning, traffic sign recognition, and a head-up display, while the cream of the crop on the Prestige is a night-vision system with large animal detection.
When it comes to such expensive luxury vehicles, what makes for a good car can sometimes come down to personal preference rather than empirical facts. There are several areas where the A7 Sportback doesn't really make sense, such as its high price tag and low fuel economy, along with its somewhat cramped rear seats. But if you can afford it, those probably aren't particularly important factors.
The A7 is a lot more expensive than the A6 on which it is based. And for that hike in price, you get a 'sedan' that performs exactly the same, but looks a little sportier than it actually is. The Sportback design does give the A7 quite a decent amount of cargo volume, though, easily trouncing more athletic rivals like the Porsche Panamera and even the luxurious Mercedes-Benz CLS.
What the Audi has in its favor is an extensive list of standard and available features, and the interior is handsomely appointed, if not quite as opulent as the CLS. There are certainly rivals that beat it in certain areas, with the Panamera leaving the less agile A7 in the dust, but the Audi Sportback is a well-rounded vehicle that manages to check most of the boxes on a luxury four-door coupe buyer's list. It is certainly worthy of consideration, and will likely make your final shortlist, if not a spot in your multi-car garage.
Audi's large Sportback remains on par with its rivals when it comes to cost, with a hefty starting price tag of $69,000 for the entry-level Premium. A price hike of $4,600 grants access to the mid-tier Premium Plus at $73,600, while getting behind the wheel of the top-of-the-range Prestige will cost you $79,700. This is just a little cheaper than the top-tier Mercedes-Benz CLS, while the higher-performing Porsche Panamera will cost buyers almost twice the price of the base-level A7. These prices exclude tax, registration, licensing, and Audi's $995 destination fee, and equipping options will quickly see prices soar.
The Audi A7 Sportback is available in three trim levels: Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige. Under the hood of all three models is the same 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 engine, paired with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system. This powertrain delivers 335 hp and 369 lb-ft to all four wheels via Audi's signature quattro AWD system and comes mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Riding on 19-inch alloy wheels, the Premium comes equipped with LED head- and taillights. The interior is upholstered in leather and eight-way power front seats with lumbar and driver-seat memory come standard. The infotainment suite is controlled via the dual-touchscreen interface and comes installed with navigation, HD Radio, SiriusXM, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa. Two USB ports are provided for each row of seats, while music is channeled through the ten-speaker sound system. Cruise control, keyless entry and ignition, and tri-zone climate control all come standard, while the safety suite consists of forward collision avoidance, lane departure warning, and front and rear sonar.
The Premium Plus upgrades the lights HD Matrix-design LED headlights and LED taillights with animation. Inside, a 12.3-inch digital instrument gauge is standard, as is an enlarged 10.1-inch infotainment screen, now paired with a 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, while a wireless charger and signal booster are installed with the Audi phone box. A surround-view camera, vehicle exit warning, blind-spot warning, and rear cross-traffic alert bolster the safety suite.
The top-tier Prestige further enhances the headlights with Audi laser light technology while installing power soft-closing doors. Inside, heated and ventilated 12-way front seats with four-way lumbar are equipped, and rear seats gain heating, too. Quad-zone climate control and adaptive cruise control upgrade the standard fare, while active lane assist, intersection assist, and traffic sign recognition are added to the safety features. A head-up display is also equipped.
Despite its extensive list of standard features on every model, the Audi A7 still offers a variety of ways to improve or upgrade your sedan. The Convenience Package ($950) for the Premium adds several features from the upper-tier Premium Plus, such as blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, vehicle exit warning, a heating steering wheel, and Audi phone box. Both the Premium Plus and Prestige get access to the S-Line Package ($1,250), which adds unique S-Line fender badges, illuminated door sills, and exterior elements, along with an upgraded sport suspension for better handling. The Luxury Package ($3,000) is exclusive to the Prestige, upgrading the upholstery to Valcona leather with increased interior options. Heated and ventilated individual contour 18-way power front seats with lumbar, memory, and massage functions are also installed. Also exclusive to the Prestige is the Adaptive Chassis package, which adds adaptive damping and all-wheel steering.
With only three trims offered, you aren't spoiled for choice here, but the Premium Plus is an excellent compromise if you want to try to keep costs down. It comes with plenty of standard comfort and safety features, such as heated front seats, a sunroof, blind-spot monitoring, a surround-view camera, and Audi's 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit. It also offers more customization options than the standard Premium, allowing you to upgrade the safety suite further. Additionally, an upgraded infotainment with a 16-speaker B&O sound system is made standard on the mid-spec Premium Plus. One thing that may tempt buyers to opt for the more expensive Prestige is the available Adaptive Chassis Package, which significantly improves comfort and handling. Still, this requires a pretty hefty investment, and the Premium Plus is no slouch without it.
The A7 is, quite literally a restyled Audi A6. Both offer the same choice of trims, with access to the same powertrain, although the A6 offers a less powerful inline-four, too. There isn't even a difference in terms of standard and available features. Where the two sedans do differ is in their appearance. The A7 has a sloping roofline and a less square rear end. By virtue of this physical difference, the A7 provides less headroom for passengers than the A6, but it provides quite a bit more cargo space than the A6's measly 13.7 cubic feet, thanks to its hatch-style trunk. However, you pay a lot more for this extra trunk space and the perception of style - $14k, to be exact ($10k if you choose the stronger V6 engine on the A6). The better choice here will come down to your personal taste, and your budget.
As you would expect when stepping up a size and price bracket, the Audi A8 is quite a bit more luxurious than its smaller, cheaper sibling. The base model is powered by the same engine as the A7, but an optional turbocharged V8, developing 453 hp and 487 lb-ft, is available. Regardless of the powertrain you choose, this juggernaut sedan will never approach the athleticism of the A7, even if it is able to accelerate a bit faster. However, it makes up for this is other ways. The interior is utterly opulent, with the most upscale materials used and tech and comfort features up the wazoo. As a car meant to be driven in, rather than to drive, the rear seats are extremely spacious, but this comes at a sacrifice in trunk space, with the A8 only supplying 12.5 cubic feet. With a high starting price of $85,200, the A8 is reserved for those who place opulence and status above utility. The A7 makes more sense, but in this price bracket, rationality doesn't always take center stage.
Check out some informative Audi A7 Sportback video reviews below.