More in­volv­ing, more ag­gres­sive, less ex­pen­sive

Motor (Australia) - - JUST LAUNCHED -

AUDI’S FIRST A7 couldn’t top­ple the well-es­tab­lished Mer­cedes-Benz CLS. But now its se­cond-gen­er­a­tion rings the bell on round two and comes armed with tech from the new A8. It’s de­rived from the same MLB Evo plat­form to slash weight, stiffen its bones and ex­tend its wheel­base 12mm. Mean­while, it has also shrunk in length. Its sleeves now bulge, too. Its tracks are wider and a new ‘power dome’ bon­net looms above an S-line spe­cific front bumper. Be­hind its new grille lurks one of three en­gines, and we’re in the 55 TFSI that swaps the old su­per­charged 3.0-litre V6 for a tur­bocharged unit much like the S4’s. Its cylin­der heads are flipped, so ex­haust gases flow in­wards to the twin-scroll turbo in its vee. It pro­duces 500Nm be­tween 1370rpm to 4500rpm. Ac­cel­er­a­tion is brisk rather than rapid, and its 255mm-wide Pirellis dig in via part-time all-wheel drive. With a seven-speed dual-clutch, it dis­patches 100km/h from rest in 5.3sec. Full throt­tle is quiet, though oc­ca­sion­ally in­ter­rupted by a high­pitched whir from the new 48-volt al­ter­na­tor. The elec­tric mo­tor of­fers no ex­tra power, just quicker en­gine restarts to al­low eco-coast­ing or ear­lier start­stop en­gage­ment. Even though it is more grand tourer than apex-carver, the rigidly mounted front sub­frame en­livens the front-end. It’s more di­rect, and there’s more grip than you ex­pect when lean­ing into a cor­ner as well. The up­graded rear five-link set-up keeps it on your in­tended line, and 1815kg in check. Op­tional all-wheel steer­ing prom­ises to hone its agility, for $4200, but we’re yet to drive it. Aussie cars switch the base 18s in Europe for 20-inch wheels as stan­dard. And as part of an $8000 Premium Plus pack­age you can then up­grade them to 21-inch­ers, but the in­cluded air sus­pen­sion cush­ions and con­trols the car’s mass well. It al­most has more safety lasers, li­dar and in­frared cam­eras than a jet fighter, while in­side a heads-up dis­play above Audi’s fa­mil­iar 12.3-inch Vir­tual Cock­pit is joined by 10.1-inch and 8.6-inch dis­plays in the cen­tre stack. They click sat­is­fy­ingly with hap­tic feed­back, but the real draw is the new space found by delet­ing a mul­ti­me­dia con­troller wheel. The slick driver-fo­cused in­te­rior is let down only by seats that lack use­ful bol­ster. It won’t be this year’s most mem­o­rable car, even with the pokey V6, but that’s not what we ex­pect from it. Bring its com­pe­ti­tion into fo­cus and the A7’s charms are clearer. Even with the ex­pen­sive Premium Plus pack­age, its $131,900 base un­der­cuts ri­vals from Mer­cedes-Benz, BMW and Porsche. The chas­sis also prom­ises de­li­cious S and RS ver­sions. Add al­lur­ing looks and we’re happy to bump its rat­ing to four stars. It’s rel­a­tive, and might change after a more thor­ough drive, but for now it looks like the A7 has made the en­trance it wanted all along.

A fleet of new en­gines de­but with a 180kW four-pot, a 210kW V6 diesel and a 250kW V6 petrol. They also come with new names, be­ing the 45 TFSI, 50 TDI and 55 TFSI re­spec­tively BELOW

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