Audi A7 Sportback 3.0 TFSI (2011) review: Audi A7 Sportback 3.0 TFSI (2011)

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good MMI entertainment and nav is easy to use, powerful. Wonderful interior. Boat loads of tech. Rides well, handles decently. Plenty of grunt.

The Bad Space for five, seat belts for four. Styling not for everyone. Eye-straining head-up display.

The Bottom Line We love Audi's A7 and its mix of athleticism, comfort, lovely design and technology. However, one omission means that we're unable to award it an Editors' Choice badge.

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Exterior

There's an oft-quoted phrase about beauty, and it's one that we feel happy to use when describing the A7. For this writer, its low, long, wide body and athletic broad-shouldered stance are marred by a rear that's droopy and a little bit frumpy. According to everyone else who rode with us, though, I'm crazy and in dire need of an optometrist's appointment.

Either way, it's hard to argue with Audi's mastery of visual embellishment. The 19-inch alloy wheels are impressive in the flesh, and the LED tail lights and driving lights clearly brand the car unmistakably as an Audi, even in the witching hours. The optional (AU$2700) full-LED headlights are energy efficient and cast a bright spear of light into the night. Whilst they don't swivel in unison with one's steering inputs, they do feature cornering lights and the ability to switch automatically between high and low beam, depending on the traffic situation.

Measuring almost five metres long and 1.9m wide, the A7 takes up a serious chunk of road space. Nary a muscle need be flexed to open the A7's rear hatch, as it features an electric mechanism that takes care of all of the opening and closing duties. Within, it's unsurprising that the long boot can swallow up to 535 litres of stuff. Fold down the rear seats, and capacity can be upped to 1390 litres, while under the boot floor is a space-saver spare tyre.

Interior

Given the car's dimensions, A7 offers its occupants, both front and rear, ample space to stretch out and relax. Despite the "coupe" roofline, there's still plenty of headroom in the rear. What the A7 lacks, though, is seating for five or, more correctly, seat belts for five. As you can see in our in-depth photo gallery and video review, this isn't because those in the rear are luxuriating in captain's chairs, and nor are passengers wanting for room. A shame, really, as we've seen cars marginally larger than a marmalade jar offer five seat belts.

Those who are legally able to sit in the A7 will enjoy themselves immensely. The seats are comfortable for journeys both long and short, although, given the cornering capabilities of this car, a more body-hugging shape wouldn't go astray. The front seats feature electric adjustment, and there are two available memory settings for the driver's pew. An extra AU$8600 not only upgrades the leather upholstery, but also adds heating and ventilation, memory settings for both front seats and a built-in massager.

Although the steering wheel is only manually adjustable, both its depth and angle can be altered, while the leather covering the wheel feels rich and grippy. Indeed, the various grains of leather used on the armrests and seats, as well as the materials used elsewhere, are of an exceptionally high quality. Married with our car's lovely full-width strip of aluminium, intuitive controls and an otherwise aesthetically pleasing design, the A7 continues Audi's reputation as the mass market car maker with the finest interiors.

Features

With a list price of AU$147,800, prior to on-road costs and rego, we're glad that the A7's standard-feature list is pretty fulsome.

Taken-for-granted features include electric folding mirrors, dusk-sensing headlights, rain-sensitive wipers, xenon headlights with built-in washers, parking sensors and reversing camera, four-zone climate control air conditioning, keyless entry and push button start, tilt-and-slide sunroof and leather trim.

Options fitted to our car included air suspension (AU$4770), head-up display (AU$3400), metallic paint (AU$2300), adaptive cruise control (AU$3570), night vision (AU$4890) and white interior ambient lighting (AU$800), taking the asking price to at least AU$167,530. Untested extras extend to automatic door closing, blind-spot warning, heated front seats and electric steering wheel adjustment.

During our first two days with the A7, the height-adjustable air suspension system regularly complained of an electrical malady and shut itself down, as well as the active cruise control system. The emergence of this electrical gremlin was particularly frustrating on the highway, where there's the constant urge to explore the copious amounts of performance offered by the V6 petrol engine.

The adaptive cruise system is able to keep a safe distance from the car in front while trying to maintain the driver's desired speed. A windshield-mounted camera and the car's network of four radars, as well as monitoring of the driver's inputs, allows the system to slow the car down on steep hills, when the traffic slows down or someone cuts in. If need be, it can bring the A7 to a complete halt. It will also work happily in stop-start city traffic, leaving the driver with the task of steering the car and restarting the system with the flick of a button or a dab of the gas pedal.

Vision from the infrared camera located in the A7's grille is displayed in high-contrast black and white in between the speedo and the tacho. To help the driver pick out humans from other creatures, the Audi system highlights upright homo sapiens in yellow rectangles.

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Audi A7 Sportback 3.0 TFSI (2011)

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