Friday, 24 November 2017

Audi’s latest is a driver’s car worth investing in

IF there is such a thing as a driver’s car then the Audi A7 Sportback should

IF there is such a thing as a driver’s car then the Audi A7 Sportback should appear high on that particular roster.

Not because it has been tweaked, or is outrageously powerful — though, it is gutsy enough — or because its wheels flaunt their alloy flanges at you.

As with all the best Audis, the A7 Sportback embodies the German car company’s penchant for understatement, which makes its cars, for me, all the more attractive.

So this week’s drive, the A7 Sportback 3.0 TDI, displayed every good element required to qualify it as a “driver’s car”.

Sure there are faster and more furious models in the Audi firmament, yet this A7 Sportback was, in the round, so to speak, a rather beautiful machine.



The power was there, the sophisticated technology was there and so, too, was the comfort.

The A7 Sportback’s looks crept up on you. First off, the test car’s metallic Moonlight Blue livery smartly delivered its 21st century look; its sleek, visual lines, running from front to rear, were immediately seductive.

Inside, the A7 Sportback’s low roofline might have, in dour Audis passim, made its occupants feel a tad claustrophobic.

But not here: coupled with black Valcona leather upholstery, ambient lighting, and minimalist-styled instruments and controls, the car’s interior was warm and welcoming.

And then there was the ease of passage of this car. The stats might tell you that its powerful 3.0-litre diesel engine could whisk you from a standing start to around 60mph in under seven seconds.

On a long, deserted road somewhere in the world (what a joy that would be) with unlimited speed restriction, you could top 148mph in the A7 Sportback.

And yet in the real world of crowded British motorways, dodgems-style dual carriageways and A-roads, the sheer flexibility of this car enabled me to enjoy driving again.

So often now I feel motoring on British roads has become a chore. Luckily, I do not have to commute by car to work these days: I would find that very tiresome indeed.

Yet in a car such as the A7 Sportback, even under the challenging conditions of driving on our roads today, I felt some comfort and joy at being behind the wheel.

There is a price to pay for this level of driving and it does not come cheap. The A7 Sportback I had on test came in at £56,700, not including options. With options fitted to the test car, the total price was £68,505.

There may be many among us who, though we like our cars, could not justify such expense even if we had the means.

But as a private buyer of such a car as the A7 Sportback — particularly with the high spec of the test car — you would certainly reap the benefit of such an investment.

Part of the trick of motoring today is to arrive in good shape. If your car is frankly a pain to drive in the first place, then you are not going to arrive in an unstressed state.

As a driver’s car, the A7 Sportback with this engine swoops along effortlessly. Not only does it climb quickly to cruising speed on motorways, you can easily sustain this momentum and overtake safely, swiftly and in comfort when the occasion arrives.

In that sense, although the A7 Sportback is a quick car, it is in my opinion much safer than slower cars.

There is nothing worse than driving an under-powered car. It can be frustrating and unsafe in certain circumstances.

But we can’t all drive prestige cars. Yet I think this has more to do with the willingness of a car to perform.

In my experience this does not have a lot to do with how much you pay for a car — though, of course, you expect best performance if you pay top dollar.

If the engineers get it right, a modest hatchback can perform with an ease in proportion to its size and retail price.

In the case of Audi, the premium you pay delivers on just about every front. For example, one of the options on the A7 Sportback was its so-called “Technology Pack Advanced” that costs £3,995 as an optional extra.

Another was £1,000 for its Bose surround sound audio system. Both these elements made driving the A7 Sportback a satisfying experience.

But if you go online to “construct” your A7 Sportback — or any other Audi for that matter — you can choose from myriad options.

For some, the technology available might appear overwhelming. But take your time if you are considering buying a car of this sophistication. The Parking Pack, for instance, is a great aid — with startling clarity from the onboard visuals. Take your time, too, when test-driving the car; make a point of working your way carefully through the options available.

With Audi Connect, for instance, you need never be “out of touch”. This, in the A7 Sportback, “creates a link” between you and the internet.

You get 4G Internet access in your car and can go online for information, entertainment and Google Earth navigation maps by scrolling, tapping or speaking your commands.

Audi Connect can read aloud text messages and allows you to dictate a response. And, with a wireless hotspot within the car, passengers can browse the internet, download emails, or access social media.

I think that at the rate of present advancement in car manufacture we can only imagine where cars will be in 10 years’ time. But you can be sure that, on the evidence of my driving of this accomplished A7 Sportback, Audi will assume a leading role.



FACTFILE

A7 Sportback 3.0 TDI quattro S line 320 PS tiptronic

Total cost of test model: £68,505

Colour: Moonlight blue, metallic

Interior trim: Black Valcona leather

Options include:

• Technology Pack Advanced

• 20in x 9J ‘10-spoke Y’ design alloy wheels

• Ambient lighting

• Parking Pack

• Adaptive air suspension

• Heated, electrically adjustable, electrically folding and auto-dimming door mirrors

• BOSE surround sound

• Night vision assistant



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