The second-generation Audi A7 was unveiled before its public debut at the Los Angeles motor show in November.
Sporting a sharp fresh exterior design, the luxury liftback comes with a 48V electric system, fresh engines with mild-hybrid properties for additional fuel savings, in addition to a steel and aluminium body building. The BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo and Mercedes-Benz CLS rival has a reworked chassis featuring four-wheel steering and a raft of digital interior functions as part of an engineering overhaul.
Together with the latest A8, the 2018 A7 represents a little of a new start for Audi, following the fallout from parent company Volkswagen’s Dieselgate scandal. Initially approved for production by Audi boss Rupert Stadler in 2014, the A7 has been developed under three research and development chiefs: Ulrich Hackenberg, Stefan Knirsch and Peter Mertens.
Audi claims that the A7 has been refined to offer outstanding long-distance-cruise traits, and also says its reveamped interior will improve its appeal. And with only one model intended for production from the outset, the A7 55 TFSI pictured here officially for the first time, it also appears Audi is taking steps to guarantee top-notch quality during the initial build stage.
Stylistically, the new A7 continues the theme established with the first-generation model in 2010, but with tauter surfacing and crisper forms. The five-door design remains; the cabin doors are once again frameless, while the massive tailgate hinges from over the back window to provide unimpeded access to the luggage compartment.
The front end is dominated by the latest evolution of Audi’s single-frame grille, as seen on the current A8. It is placed within a heavily ordered front bumper and is bookmarked by angular headlights sporting distinctive LED graphics in one of three designs, which taper back within the leading portion of their front wings.
Further back, there are pronounced front wheel arches, a relative shallow six-window glasshouse, heavy swage lines within the lower sections of their doors and a roofline that slopes heavily towards the rear — all in keeping with the original A7.
At the back, Audi has provided its latest model with the active spoiler element. Integrated into the trailing edge of the tailgate, it hastens at speeds above 120mph to increase downforce on the rear axle for added high-speed stability. The very dominant styling feature is the complete width tail-lights treatment: each tail-light receives 13 individual components, joined by an illuminated light bar that extends across the rear of the boot lid.
Audi will offer the new A7 with an optional S line styling package from the beginning of UK sales. It features a high-gloss-black treatment on the grille insert, leading air ducts, sills and rear diffuser.
In 4969mm in length, 1908mm in width and 1422mm in height, the new Audi is 14mm shorter, 3mm wider and 2mm higher compared to first-generation A7. Based around the latest evolution of Audi’s MLB platform, it also adopts a wheelbase that is 13mm more than its predecessor at 2923mm, providing it with a bigger footprint which will be shared with all the new A6 expected in 2018.
The interior of the A7 follows the lead of the latest A8. There is a 12.3in digital instrument display, combined with a 10.1in Multi-Media Infotainment display integrated within the middle of the dashboard facia along with an 8.6in display unit mounted lower down in the base of the centre console — both offering standard touch controller, with haptic and acoustic feedback qualities.
The adoption of touch-sensitive displays for all of the significant functions provides the dash with a clean and uncluttered appearance devoid of traditional manual controllers. The stubby gearlever, meanwhile, is designed to allow the driver to rest their wrist to the horizontal manage to lessen the touch operation of the air conditioning and other functions, according to Audi.
Up front, new chairs are claimed to offer added levels of comfort, with buyers able to specify multi-adjustable, customised contour seats with both ventilation and massage functions. The back can be configured with two individual seats or a two-plus-one layout. Despite the 14mm reduction in the length of the exterior, Audi claims improvements in packaging have liberated an added 21mm of length within the interior and, with it, increased rear leg space.
The 535-litre boot capacity of this original A7 was retained, although Audi claims the luggage compartment has been redesigned for improved utilisation of space. The rear liftback is manually operated, although buyers may choose an optional foot-operated sensor.
Options include Matrix LED headlamps with laser projector units, a head-up display unit, voice control, four sound systems including a Bang & Olufsen unit offering 3D surround-sound, remote parking pilot as well as from 2018 onwards, remote garage pilot. The remote garage pilot autonomously manoeuvres that the A7 into and out of parking spaces or a garage without the necessity for a driver to be behind the steering wheel.
That technology is one of a number of autonomous driving functions. The new A7 can feature up to five radar sensors, five cameras, 12 ultrasonic sensors and a laser scanner. They’re networked with a so-called zFas central driver assistance control. In total, the new car features 39 driver assistant systems, equally as regular and optional.
The second-generation A7 will be launched with just a single engine, although some, including the two four and six-cylinder gas and diesel units, are supposed to be added to the line-up as production of the four-door ramps up in Audi’s plant in Neckarsulm, Germany.
The turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol unit comes as standard with a brand new belt drive alternator, lithium ion battery and also 48V electric architecture to provide it with mild hybrid properties. At speeds between 55kph and 160kph, the car can coast with all the combustion process idled for additional fuel savings on extended periods of trailing throttle.
It also utilizes a stop/start function that shuts down the engine below 14mph as you roll up to traffic lights. In combination with a front camera, the engine is subsequently restarted the moment the car ahead begins to move or, alternatively, once the driver activates the throttle.
The successor to the earlier supercharged 3.0-litres V6 offered in the first-generation A7 produces 335bhp and 369lb feet of torque. Drive is channeled via a standard seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch gearbox and the latest iteration of Audi’s quattro four-wheel-drive system that only activates the rear wheels as soon as it detects added traction is required.
The new engine provides the initial A7 55 TFSI model with a claimed 0-100kph time of 5.3sec and electronically limited top speed of 250kph. Audi is already talking up the dynamic qualities of the new A7, which follows the trend towards the adoption of four-wheel steering — or dynamic-all-wheel-steering, as Audi prefers to call it.
At speeds under 60kph, the rear wheels steer in the opposite direction to those at the front in a bid to imbue the new Audi with added low-speed manoeuvrability and a claimed 1.1m reduction in the turning circle compared with its predecessor. Above 60kph, the rear wheels steer in the exact same direction as those at the very front, which Audi says contributes to increased straight-line stability and improves high-speed lane-change properties.
In other changes, Audi claims that the suspension was created from scratch and claims it offers higher levels of feedback. Buyers can select between four set-ups: conventional steel springs, a sport suspension that lowers the ride height by 10mm, electronically controlled damping and also a self-leveling air suspension.
Anticipate Audi to bring in the newest A7 to India sometime next year.