Friday, 14 December 2018

Future-proof your driving with Audi A7

Factfile: Audi A7 3.0 TDI: YOU have to wonder when you get behind the wheel of such a car as

Factfile: Audi A7 3.0 TDI: YOU have to wonder when you get behind the wheel of such a car as this week’s drive, the Audi A7, what cars will be like by 2050.

The reason for my thinking here is simple: the Audi A7 is an accomplished car and one more than fit for this first quarter of the 21st century. But the fascinating question remains: what will it be like in 35 years’ time?

I say “it” because I see no reason why there should not be generations of the A7 to come, you could apply this to a lot of Audi models. Indeed at the November auto show in Los Angeles, Audi showcased the A7 Sportback h-tron Quattro.

Using a powerful electric drive with a fuel cell as its energy source, this Audi of the near future is capable of covering up to 310 miles on a single tank whilst emitting nothing more than water vapour from the tailpipe! I like to think that my shining admiration here is not false adulation.

The technology already in place on such cars today is impressive and more to the point — useful, practical and well-made. You may feel bamboozled by the array of buttons (and symbols on said buttons) that confront you when you drive any modern car.

The answer to that is that if you buy a new one, spend some time with a “techy” person who will explain everything to you. Then take some time out yourself with the car and the handbook. I know a lot of people find the prospect of this dull, they just want to drive. But it pays off in the long run to know your car. And why not? Think of the thousands of pounds you are spending for the privilege of sitting behind that wheel.

When I go to a new car launch I am never too proud to ask one of the technical experts on hand about how a car works. This is not, I promise you, anorak territory. I just like to know how to operate any particular car to its best advantage.

Of course this Audi A7 3.0 TDI quattro Black Edition 320PS tiptronic does not come cheap. The basic price of the test car was £58,100, a price tag that climbed to £83,000 with options added.

That kind of price puts the car beyond the reach of many people — even the starting price — and yet with Audi the range is extensive enough to cater for many tastes and pockets.

What you are buying into is a forward-looking technology and know-how that, as I said, will be at this rate many times more accomplished by the year 2050.

There may be a huge ask at that point in history about exactly how we are going to be able to manage the huge volume of cars on our roads.

But that massive question-to-come aside, I think my week in the A7 gave me a glimpse of the technical possibilities of motoring in future.

In the meantime, one bonus with this test car Audi A7 was that its 3.0-litre V6 engine, though a diesel, offers some pleasing rumbles when you accelerate hard. The sort of sound you do not usually associate with a diesel engine. Especially turbodiesels.

With the latter you have usually to take the long view, that is the build-up of acceleration is calculated not on massive high revs but more when the engine decides that the turbo should kick in. This is largely out of the hands of the driver. In the old days, the “turbo lag” was famous and the driver played a bit of a waiting game though in truth it was probably only a matter of seconds.

But on the A7 I found that using the paddle gears on the steering wheel was meaningful. Sometimes on cars today — and many have them now — paddles seem superfluous. But not on the A7. The automatic box is as you would expect very capable of managing the drive itself. It calculates everything, so you can almost hear the engine management system whirring away as you approach bends or accelerate hard when joining a motorway to negotiate your position in busy lanes.

Whatever the future of motoring holds — and questions abound on just about every front — the Audi way seems a positive way to go.

A7 3.0 TDI quattro Black Edition 320PS tiptronic

Price of test car: £58,100

with options: £83,170

• Simplified specification levels from SE Executive to S line and Black Edition

• Enhanced S7 and RS 7 models also available

• New S tronic twin-clutch transmission replaces multitronic CVT in front-wheel-drive variants

• Styling revisions and LED headlights across the range, matrix LED lights and indicators with sweeping function for S line and Black Edition, interior decor and infotainment improvements

• S7 Sportback features power upgrade to 450PS and four per cent CO2 reduction

• Latest EU6-compliant engine range includes 3.0 TDI ultra capable of returning up to 60.1mpg with CO2 output from 122g/km

By NIGEL WIGMORE, Standard motoring correspondent

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