Grand tourer with beautiful proportions
ALL things to all people. It's a near impossible proposition.
Yet Audi is doing its best to fill the void. There is a seemingly never-ending number of variants coming from the four-rings, each plugging a gap in the premium market.
Among them is the A7 Sportback. Marketed as a having practicalities of a wagon with the “emotion of a coupe and the prestige of a sedan”, it's a hefty ask.
Based on the all-new A6 sedan, it has a sloping roofline and hatchback rear-end. You get a choice of two 3.0-litre V6 engines, one petrol and a turbo-diesel.
We sampled the latter, which at $142,750 is about five grand cheaper than the petrol powerplant.
Don't worry about squeezing in three across the back seat. This is a four-seater tourer, its primary purpose is delivering occupants to their destination in style.
Each seat has its own zone that's climate controlled, and you get handy leg and headroom even in the back.
The seats are flat, particularly in the front, which could do with some additional support from all angles. Sports seats are an option.
There are some hard plastics in the centre console which detract from what is a tried and tested set-up. It's the primary bugbear in an otherwise lovely cabin. Soft touch materials, metal or wood inlays provide a premium environment.
Flicking your way through the on-board computer that controls the stereo, sat nav, climate control and a swag of other technological stuff can still take some analysis, but there are less buttons than we've seen previously.
One brilliant new inclusion is the set of numbers next to the gear shifter which enables you to quickly shift through the pre-set radio stations.
You get no sense of diesel clatter and the A7 is whisper quiet.
On the road
Hard-core “S” performance varieties aside, this is probably the most rewarding Audi we've driven.
Still light with an artificial feel at low speeds, yet remarkably easy to drive, the A7 has a much weightier and responsive experience.
Weighing it in at just under two tonnes despite wide-ranging use of aluminium, it's a tourer at heart.
Yet you can still have some fun in the twisties. The turbo-diesel is a meaty performer with a massive 500Nm of torque on tap.
On the open road it's quiet and simple to pilot. Combined with the interior refinement the A7 is a car you could stay in for long hauls.
Stamp your right boot to gain an immediate response and there is rarely any need to make use of the paddle shifters with the seven-speed box rarely putting a foot wrong.
Adaptive suspension also enables you to pick your driving style, such as dynamic or comfort. You can leave it to automatically decide or completely individualise its operation.
What do you get?
All the stuff you would expect of a car in the $140K ilk is there, like sat-nav, 18-inch alloys, glass sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, folding exterior mirrors, Bluetooth connectivity and streaming, keyless entry with push button start, Bose stereo, multi-function leather-wrapped steering wheel, electric-adjustable front seats with memory on the driver's side.
Other special extras are an automatic boot lid, the fold-out into screen that disappears at the push of a button and quad-zone climate control.
Yet like most Audis, and other premium offerings, the other extras cost. Air suspension is $4770, the head-up display like we've seen become commonplace in BMWs is $3400, comfort seats with ventilation and heating are $8600, while the Bang & Olufsen stereo is a whopping $12,350.
The best value package with the TDI is probably the S Line Sports, which includes a lot of the athletic gear (like bigger alloys, sports seats and suspension) for $10,200.
Shopping the grand tourer aisle? It's also worth considering the BMW 5-Series GT ($152,200), Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class ($154,200) or the Porsche Panamera ($193,000), while at the budget end there is always the Volkswagen Passat CC ($54,990) that has the looks but not the premium touches.
Four adults would appreciate the A7's confines.
It's really four armchairs on wheels. You can even strap the kids seats in with ease...but that may disturb the ambience.
The boot's not as big as you might think. While long, it's not particularly deep. The space is still far more accessible than your standard sedan.
For a car tipping the scales at nearly two tonnes, it's remarkably thrifty. It averages about six litres/100km, and our test achieved similar figures.
Striking with beautiful lines, the A7 blends a muscular hunkered stance with elegance. Of the large cars in Audi's stable, this is the best-looker.
With the prevalence and ease of air travel, the road trip doesn't have the same allure or necessity it did a few decades ago.
But with an A7 in the driveway, the romance of hitting the highway would be rekindled. It has a wonderful shape and cocoons its occupants in a premium world.
This diesel engine is a fuel miser yet still delivers a rewarding drive with handy acceleration punch.
It may not be all things to all people, but for those riding in the A7 there's not too much wrong with life.
Model: Audi A7 Sportback.
Details: Four-door all-wheel drive luxury sedan.
Engine: 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel generating 180kW @ 3800-4400rpm and peak torque of 500Nm @ 1500-3250rpm.
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic with sport mode and steering wheel paddle shifters.
Performance: 0-100kmh in just 6.5 seconds; top speed limited to 250kmh.
Consumption: 6.0 litres/100km.
Bottom line: $142,750.