Western Suburbs Weekly - - Driveway - Bill Buys

STYLE, per­for­mance, com­fort, road­hold­ing, lux­ury and econ­omy are words sel­dom used in the same sen­tence, but they all ap­ply to Audi’s A7.

The four-door saloon with its coupe-like lines is one of the best-look­ing cars on the road and our bi-turbo test model with its 8speed tip­tronic trans­mis­sion and qu­at­tro all-wheel drive made ev­ery trip a plea­sure.

The latest and most no­tice­able de­sign changes in­clude a sin­gle-frame grille flanked by a pair of mean-look­ing head­lights, which com­bine to give the car a wider stance.

In­side, a new high-res­o­lu­tion Driver In­for­ma­tion Sys­tem sits in be­tween the speedo and tacho, and we were sur­prised to see twin mush­room-like doofies pop up on ei­ther side of the dash when the car was started up. Turned out they were part of the op­tional and eye-wa­ter­ing Bang &Olufsen sound sys­tem.

Be­neath the sexy body, the A7 is a su­perbly-en­gi­neered car with ex­cel­lent re­sponse and bril­liant fuel econ­omy.

We drove to Man­durah and back and used next to no fuel. When we left, the dis­tance-to-empty gauge showed we had 550km left in the tank, but af­ter about 250km of driv­ing it in­di­cated we still had about 490km left to go. That's a very pleas­ant rar­ity. The pow­er­ful 3.0litre V6 twin-turbo diesel cranks out 235kW and a mon­strous 650Nm. It can rocket the 2000kg car to 100km/h in a back-shov­ing 5.5 sec­onds, and has a fuel con­sump­tion av­er­age of 6.1litres/100km.

The in­te­rior is as im­pres­sive. Well laid out, our car’s sports seats were fin­ished in Val­cona leather and the con­trols were all within reach and log­i­cally placed.

Driver and pas­sen­ger com­fort is in keep­ing with ex­pec­ta­tions, though very tall rear seat oc­cu­pants might be a bit less than de­lighted with the lim­ited head­room caused by the slop­ing roofline.

Stan­dard equip­ment in­cludes 20-inch wheels, Audi Drive Se­lect, which pro­vides se­lectable modes for steer­ing, ac­cel­er­a­tor and trans­mis­sion re­sponse, a blind-spot warn­ing sys­tem, au­to­matic bi-xenon head­lights that give a great spread – and won't blind on­com­ing traf­fic – plus LED run­ning lights and tail­lights, a sun­roof, front and rear park­ing sen­sors, and key­less ig­ni­tion and en­try.

In­side there's four-zone au­to­matic cli­mate con­trol, heated eight-way power seats with driver mem­ory set­tings, a big dis­play screen, a re­vers­ing cam­era, sat­nav, in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem, Blue­tooth phone and au­dio con­nec­tiv­ity and one heck of an au­dio sys­tem. Ad­vanced safety gear abounds. The A7 is a gen­uine high-per­for­mance car that Audi sums up as ‘a pro­gres­sive 5door ex­ec­u­tive sports coupe that blends the pres­tige of a sedan with the sporti­ness of a coupe and the func­tion­al­ity of an Avant’.

It’s priced at $144,900 plus on-roads, but the test car came with sev­eral op­tions, in­clud­ing that B&O stereo with its pop-up tweet­ers, which is $10,500 more. There was also a sports dif­fer­en­tial, me­tal­lic paint and Audi Con­nect sys­tem, for an all-up price of $163,900.

Ver­dict: We can live with­out the B&O sys­tem.

Pre­mium per­former: Audi's A7.

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