Audi A7 S7

January 2013

picture of car from the front

Detail changes distinguish S7 from the standard car

Ratings

Overall Rating 8Overall rating

Value for money Rating 6Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 6Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 8Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 9Controls and display

Comfort Rating 8Comfort

Security Rating 8Car security

Safety Rating 8Car safety


Likes

  • Handsome and unusual exterior
  • High quality cabin more stylish than other Audis
  • Remarkable practicality
  • Impressive range of engines

Gripes

  • High price point puts it out of reach for most
  • In-house rival A6 offers more practicality for less
  • Driving experience is slick but not exciting
  • No manual gearbox option

For almost every model of the huge Audi range there is also a hotter version wearing the 'S' badge, and some two years after the introduction of the stylish and practical A7 Sportback an S7 version has arrived. With extra power, performance, visual enhancements and a higher specification it becomes even more of an exclusive product for the lucky few.

The A7 is one of Audi's niche products, slotting between the more conventional A6 and A8 saloons. The German manufacturer bills the A7 as a four-door coupe, and it certainly has more grace and purpose than a conventional four door car yet offers impressive space in the cabin and in the boot for something as distinctive looking.

Sitting at the top of the range is the S7 version, which in Audi terms makes it significantly more performance oriented than the standard car but a step below the fastest RS models. Even so the S7 is quite a specialised product, aimed at a select group of customers looking for the extra performance and style that comes with an 'S' model.

Building on the looks of the standard car the S7 adds a more aggressive bodykit incorporating a deeper front bumper and more pronounced grille, side skirts, rear diffuser and larger alloy wheels. Discreet badges front and rear give the clearest indication that this is a significantly different model.

The sleek exterior makes the cabin all the more impressive: despite the sloping roofline headroom is perfectly respectable in the rear and as generous as you would expect upfront. This is a genuine five-seater although best suited to two passengers in the back seats, while the hatchback tailgate opens to reveal a very respectable load area. Unlike most of the competition, the seats can be folded to give an estate-like load area.

Our verdict on the Audi A7 S7

The S7 is in something of a class of its own, as it combines serious performance with slick design and luxury yet remains a very practical car. As a driving machine it performs very well indeed, being capable and entertaining, but this doesn't detract from its ability to carry passengers and luggage in comfort. It requires a substantial investment but offers an impressive breadth of ability.

Costs
Costs rating 6

After the initial purchase price running costs come down to the likely high insurance premiums. The clever V8 offers cylinder deactivation to improve fuel economy but it will still be considerably thirstier than a diesel version.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 8

Considering its size the S7 is respectable in terms of practicality, but in combination with the sleek exterior there are few rivals that can offer such a mix of good looks and space. Accommodation is good for passengers front and rear, while the boot space is flexible and easy to manipulate.

picture of car from the rear

Sleek rear is practical too

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 9

A layout that is typical Audi, the S7 has the latest generation MMI interface and slick graphics to illustrate the various options. A fully-specified version may take a little time to get fully acquainted with, but the controls are pleasing to the eye and logical in their design.

Comfort
Comfort Rating 8

Even with its sporting inclination the S7 still offers superb levels of comfort. Noise levels are very low indeed, and with the comfortable seats offering the option of a massage, the S7 is second only to the A8 in terms of comfort levels.

Car security
Security Rating 8

A high level of security comes as standard with the S7, featuring remote locking, keyless entry where specified and an engine immobiliser.

Car safety
Safety Rating 8

An immensely strong bodyshell backed up by many electronic safety systems makes the S7 one of the safest cars on the road. With the full pre-safe system specified, the S7 will prepare itself for an accident should its sensors detect and imminent collision, while features like the night vision display help to prevent the worst from happening at all.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 8

The standard A7 is a pleasing and capable car in its own right but move up to the S7 variant and there is a great deal more pleasure to be had. The turbocharged V8 engine responds quickly to demands for acceleration and is refined and characterful with it. The standard air suspension combines comfort and sportiness when required and the overall dynamics are as engaging as anyone would want from a car of this size.

picture of car interior

High quality cabin is a pleasure to use

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 8

Any family would be happy to have the S7 as their regular transport, as there is room enough for everyone and plenty of luggage. Meanwhile the looks are about as far removed from the common MPV as it is possible to be - this is a car that all the family will be pleased to ride in.

First car appeal
First car Rating 2

The S7 is likely to be much too expensive for a new driver, and although it is an easy car to drive it may well intimidate a novice with the amount of performance and technology on board.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 8

This is one area where the S7 Sportback is not going to struggle. The quality of the materials and construction is excellent, and in this respect certainly justifies the price tag. The A7's image is strong too, helped by the solidity of the Audi brand and the impressive exterior appearance.

Accessibility
Accessibility Rating

Most cars of this size are easy enough to get in to, and the S7 has reasonable door apertures for easy entry and exit. Those in the rear have slightly less space to play with, but the frameless doors do help a little. The tailgate is large and comes with automated operation as standard, taking all the effort out. The low boot floor makes for easy loading too.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

Even the basic radio/CD unit in the A7 provides good sound quality, but the top-spec Bang and Olufsen system includes iPod integration and DAB. Internet connectivity is also available which can also work in sync with the satellite navigation, putting the A7 at the top end for in-car entertainment.

picture of car in detail

Handsome S7 has discreet badges

Colours and trim

Like most Audis the S7 Sportback looks best in sober metallics, although when finished in white it has a pleasingly sporty presence. Inside the S7 is finished in superb leathers, and benefits from a greater range of options: the panel-effect wood trim on the dashboard is particularly attractive.

Parking

The shape of the S7 does reduce visibility a little compared with the similarly-sized A6, but even so the light power steering makes squeezing into a gap the work of a moment. Parking sensors or the full-house parallel parking assistance can take all the strain out if required.

Spare wheel

Emergency tyre repair kit as standard with option of full size spare.

 

Range information

Petrol engine options - 2.8-litre (237bhp); 3.0-litre (296bhp); 4.0-litre (414bhp). Diesel engine options - 3.0-litre (201bhp and 241bhp). Transmission options: seven-speed dual-clutch automatic or CVT automatic. Trim levels: SE, S-line, S.

 

Alternative cars

Mercedes-Benz CLS Four doors but with coupe looks, limited practicality

BMW 5-Series Gran Turismo Practical and good to drive, but controversial looks will not suit all

Lexus GS Hides its saloon status with soft curves, well-equipped and quiet

Jaguar XF Arguably best-looking premium saloon, great to drive too



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January 2013