As the UK drifts inexorably towards another potentially slippery winter, Audi is bolstering the defences of its A7 Sportback range by offering quattro all-wheel-drive reassurance for more versions of the acclaimed executive class fastback.
New 3.0-litre TDI quattro 204PS models will be available to order early next month to coincide with a new Standard trim level that will be available exclusively with this engine. In new Standard form the A7 Sportback 3.0 TDI will lower the range entry price to £39,995, with the new A7 Sportback 3.0 TDI quattro just above at £41,675.
The ‘entry level’ V6 TDI engine has until now been offered only in conjunction with front-wheel-drive and the eight-speed multitronic continuously variable transmission. In this form it powers the A7 Sportback 3.0 TDI 204PS to 62mph from rest in 7.4 seconds and on to a 146mph top speed, while at the same time offering the potential for 55.4mpg fuel economy with low 135g/km CO2 emissions.
This configuration, which is now available from £39,995 OTR, will continue alongside the new quattro all-wheel-drive version. Equipped with the seven-speed S tronic twin-clutch transmission, the A7 Sportback 3.0 TDI quattro 204PS covers the 0-62mph sprint a fraction more quickly at 7.2 seconds, matches the 146mph top speed and offers up to 48.7mpg with CO2 emissions of 152g/km. Benefit-in-kind liability for business users stands at 20% in front-wheel-drive versions and 23% for the quattros.
Just as the latest A7 TDI models manage to maintain impressive economy and emissions figures in quattro form, so the new Standard specification versions of these models deliver all the key features expected of a high end premium executive car. These include 18-inch alloy wheels, Xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lamps, Milano leather upholstery, the Multi Media Interface (MMI) with 6.5-inch colour display incorporating satellite navigation, Audi drive select adaptive dynamics, powered tailgate operation and light and rain sensors.
SE specification continues as before, and adds features such as the Audi Parking System Plus with audible and diagrammatical parking aids, cruise control, heated and electrically adjustable front seats and the Audi Music Interface iPod connection. The top rung belongs to the S line models, which upgrade further to 19-inch alloy wheels, Valcona leather upholstery, S line interior and exterior styling treatments, S line sports seats and S line sports suspension.
A new feature that will be common at all levels is the addition of a third rear three-point seatbelt which will enable the A7 Sportback to seat five adults when required. This will add a further element of practicality to the spacious interior, which can also provide up to 1,390 litres of load space when the split/folding rear seat is deployed.
Elsewhere it is business as usual for the range, which also includes a more powerful 245PS 3.0-litre TDI engine and naturally aspirated 204PS 2.8-litre or supercharged 300PS 3.0-litre petrol units, all of which are linked to quattro all-wheel-drive and S tronic transmission without exception. Innovative Audi thermal management technology, engine load-reducing electromechanical power steering, energy recuperation during coasting and braking and the engine start-stop function are also features of all models in the line-up.
Lighter than a conventional steel equivalent by 15 per cent through the use of a high proportion of aluminium, the streamlined body of the A7 Sportback is mounted on a completely new and exclusive-to-Audi platform employing advanced five link front and trapezoidal link rear suspension. This can be specified with a firmer, 10mm lower sport setting, an even more intensively handling-oriented S line configuration or an extensively revised version of the Audi adaptive air suspension system with three ride settings.
Dedicated drivers can also opt for advanced all-LED headlights, a thermal imaging camera for night vision and, for maximum benefit from the quattro system, a sport differential which can apportion torque between the rear wheels for even greater handling agility and adjustability. Options with a more business class slant include MMI Touch with its 8-inch monitor, fingertip sensitive touch pad, 3D navigation mapping and sizeable hard disk; a UMTS module with wireless WLAN link feeding the navigation system with Google Earth maps and creating a WiFi hotspot in the car for mobile internet access; and a head-up display.
The list of more indulgent luxuries includes comfort seats with heating, cooling and massaging functions, a parallel and perpendicular parking assistant, acoustic glazing, a 15-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system with 1,300 watts of power, digital TV reception and ambient LED interior lighting.