A Dapper Executive Limo

Audi A7 Sportback.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

The A7 Sportback seems like a staple in Audi’s lineup today but the first A7 Sportback actually only rolled out of the assembly line in 2010, which makes it one of Audi’s youngest models. It was Ingolstadt’s answer to the CLS which was selling like hotcakes out of neighboring Stuttgart. Who would have thought that a rakish, somewhat peculiar-looking full-size limousine was the kind of car the world’s executives wanted but never knew they did?

For its second coming, Audi has given the A7 Sportback a thorough rework with a brand-new design, new interior, new infotainment system, and more. The A7 Sportback was always about the way it looks so let’s begin there. It’s recognizable but also very different. The sloping roofline is present as is the tapered rear, but the new A7 Sportback has angles and lines that give it a more grown-up look. Compared to the model it replaces, the new A7 Sportback is less K-pop boy band and more heavy rock band. As I always say, looks are subjective but I prefer the A7 Sportback to its rivals. To me, the CLS looks too much a stretched CLA, while the 6 Series Gran Coupé is looking tired now and we await its successor.

The cabin has been massively improved. For the driver, the dashboard has been entirely reworked aesthetically and ergonomically. Gone are the dated wood trimmings and in its place are thin and sharp-looking panels made out of aluminum. Not only does the entire cabin look more up to date, but the A7 Sportback also features the Audi phone box, a compartment in the center armrest that features two USB ports and a Qi wireless charging pad for charging your mobile devices.

The A7 Sportback also gets Audi’s new MMI Touch Response infotainment system which debuted in the A8. In place of physical dials, switches, and buttons are two large electronic displays — one 10.1-inch and a smaller 8.6-inch — that gives you control over infotainment and some of the car’s parameters. Now, my preference is for physical controls since they are tactile and it’s easy to operate without looking — with muscle memory, you can easily control them once you spend enough time with the car. But, I can say that Audi’s solution comes close. I experienced this system in the A8L some months back and I quickly found myself reacquainted with the A7 Sportback. A large part of this is because Audi’s implementation features haptic and acoustic feedback, which lets you know your inputs are registered. Additionally, the buttons are large so you can afford to be less precise with your inputs.

Still, Audi’s interface isn’t the most intuitive and can be a bit daunting for first timers —there are a lot of buttons and options and it’s not immediately clear what some of them stand for. Fortunately, you can get around this in two ways. The first is to use voice recognition so you can use natural language to control aspects of the car. You can tell the A7 Sportback to navigate to an address, call one of your friends, play songs, or even adjust the air-conditioning. It doesn’t work all the time, but when it does, it feels like magic. The second is if you have a compatible iPhone or Android phone, you can rely on Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and use your phone’s music app for entertainment and navigation app to get around.

Rear passengers are not neglected. The seats at the back are cushy and rear legroom is excellent. Furthermore, passengers in the back get their own climate control. However, the transmission tunnel is sizable which makes seating three in the back uncomfortable for the middle passenger. On the flip side, headroom in the back is good despite the sloping roofline. Also remarkable is the boot space. It’s a sizable boot even if that sloping roofline does mean you sacrifice vertical space. If you require even more space, you can more than double luggage capacity by folding the rear seats down.

Don’t be fooled by the A7 Sportback’s dynamic looks and powerful engine, the A7 Sportback is more at home being a long distance cruiser than a bare-knuckle sports sedan. Straight line performance is actually impressive thanks to the immensely capable 3.0-liter turbocharged V6. The brakes are mighty and the car is assuredly stable when negotiating high-speed corners. It’s just that even in the car’s sportiest setting, the throttle response isn’t sharp enough. Furthermore, the A7 Sportback’s steering requires some guesswork because of dynamic all-wheel steering.

Dynamic all-wheel steering requires a bit of explanation. What’s good is that the rear wheel turns as you steer. It turns in the opposite direction at low speeds to decrease turning radius and turns in the same direction at high speeds to improve stability. This is all advantageous as the A7 Sportback has a remarkably small turning radius for a car of its size and is surprisingly maneuverable in tight spaces.

What’s not good is that the steering ratio changes based on vehicle speed. At low speeds, such as when you are navigating tight spaces, the ratio is high and the wheel turns more with the steering wheel. The end result is that you need not turn the steering wheel as much at low speeds. At high speeds, the opposite happens and offers greater control on vehicle placement. This all sounds fine on paper but in the real world what really happens is that you are never quite sure how much steering is needed when you come to a corner. That being said, dynamic all-wheel steering doesn’t come standard on the A7 Sportback and I would recommend thinking twice before checking the options box.

The new A7 Sportback is a handsome and immensely capable cruiser. However, it carries a high price and is currently only available in a single engine configuration. It may be less expensive than its comparably-equipped German rivals but it carries a hefty premium over a similarly spec’ed A6, which one may argue is just as quick, just as comfortable, and perhaps even slightly more practical. But the siren call of the A7 Sportback is hard to shake off , so maybe this is the one time you should listen to your heart over your mind. You only live once right?

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Watch us try to buy the  A7 Sportback in VR!
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In the center armrest is a compartment with two USB ports and a Qi wireless charging pad for recharging your mobile devices.
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My Reading Room

The 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 motor is refined and powerful. 

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My Reading Room


Handsome and powerful, the A7 Sportback is perfect for the style-conscious executive.
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The sloping roof is sensuous but it does impinge on usable boot space.
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