Audi A7 Sportback in India test drive

Audi India started the year with the launch of the hyper car, the Audi R8 and followed it with the Audi R8 Spyder. Recently, they launched the 2.0 TDI variant of the Audi Q5, which needless to say has enough fans to choke up the Audi show rooms. However of more importance is the launch of the Audi A7. Now, Audi, just like Hyundai and BMW is trying to fill up the “numbers” game and by this, I mean that Hyundai is trying to complete the I series with their i0, i20, 1×45 and stuff. With BMW, it is the 1 series, 3 series, 5 and so on. For Audi, the RS5 was launched recently as also the Audi A7 Sportback in India. They also complete part of the numerology that Audi India is ensuring that it goes through. Audi India intended to take on the grand tourer theme with the A7 Sportback. The RS5 in the meanwhile would take on the M version of the BMW 5 series. In the market place, Audi have finally begun their aggressive tactics. Audi India had always maintained that they weren’t looking at boosting their numbers any soon and it was only that they wanted to give their customers the insight into the German quality. They are no longer the laggard that I personally felt that they were and infact they have now started on with the numbers game with the launch of this cars. With the Audi Q3 lined up later on this year or early next year, it seems that Audi India is ready to take on the nuclear warfare by BMW by the end of this year. Here is the test drive of the gleaming new Audi A7 Sportback in India. Check on Road Price

As for the looks, well, it is like any other Audi available. But in an instance you realize that the styling is more of yesteryears than the modern cues eschewed by new Audi A8L and also the Audi A6. The almost square grille of the Audi family face sits fairly more higher than other Audi sedans in India. However unlike other Audis, the air dam isn’t a subtle affair and is more wide and sinister looking. There is a small lip spoiler as well. There is an elegance and streamlining as far as the roofline recession goes. The smoothness in the paint and the flowing lines make you want to caress this car, just like I did for a good 7 minutes into the test drive. I am sure, the onlookers would perceive me as a mad figure but who cares when you have such a gorgeous lady as the Audi A7 Sportback near you. Oh well, those head lamps are more the usual day time running LED ones and this ensures that they have sufficient eyes ogling at them. A small sunroof is also on offer. It is more of a novelty thing rather than necessity and at this price point and class, function takes over form. The 18 inch forged alloys look every bit the show turner that they were meant to be. As for the rear end, there is a spoiler which lifts up once the car crosses a certain speed limit, to reduce the air drag. The tail lamps are all LEDs and a new design at that.

Coming to the interiors, rather than go for the dark trim, Audi have chosen the beige trim this time around. However one thought crossed my mind that Audi is maybe trying to imitate a certain BMW in here. The BMW 5 series GT. The interiors have the same hue as the 5GT. Imitation is definitely a good form of flattery however in the Audi A7 Sportback in India shouldn’t have done it. If it was a certain Maruti or even Hyundai doing it, then it wouldn’t be a problem. Anyways, cut to the chase and you are definitely seated lower than other Audis, save for the Audi R8. The steering wheel is borrowed from the Audi A6 with its multi functions and stuff. There is a dark wood trim coming in the central theme of the dashboard. Like most of the cars that I have seen recently, the dashboard is divided into 3 different layers. The first one is made of dark plastic which feels nice to touch, the second one with the wooden layer whereas the third one is made of beige. However in reality, the last layer would be very easy to get stained and stuff. The glove box is a huge one and also chilled. Minimal buttons on the dash make it look fuss free whereas some on the front central tunnel housing the MMI interface which rises from the center of the dashboard with a pop out action. Oh well, the lovely but eerily distracting heads up display is also available. There is some wood trim available near the door pads which up the luxury feature. The steering wheel is adjustable in the sense for both rake and reach. Front passenger seat is however a bit compromised by the swooping nature of the dashboard intrusion. You sit low however the under thigh support is spot on. Now for the rear seat, inspite of the sloping roofline, Audi have managed to pack in good head room along with knee room. The A7 can only seat two passengers in the back owing to the rise in the hump of the central tunnel. Dedicate rear AC vents and also music system controls ensure that the rear passengers are also comfortable. The 4 zone climate control system however left a lot to be desired due to its not so efficient cooling nature. For the rear seat passengers, the low H point seems a bit of an impediment. This would hamper the long distance travel notions of the A7 Sportback. As for the boot space, it is slightly bigger than the A4 meaning which the A6 still makes sense as a buy over this.

For the suspension part, Audi India have plonked in an all wheel drive system or Quattro in Audi speak. For the front link, Audi have put in a 5 link suspension plus twin upper and lower wishbones. Moving onto the rear, it is a self tracking trapezoidal link axle which mates both the handling as also the ride comfort. Moreover all this components are made from aluminium components. This seems to be one of the best Audis that I have driven recently. The steering wheel is more communicative than the one on the R8 and this is saying a lot about its mechanical precision. It lets you know as to how opposite locks you have to dial in and be ready for the next apex hunting maneuver. As for the NVH factor, its all silent inside the cabin which made me wonder whether this is actually the Mercedes S-class or what. But after some time, the badge on the steering wheel made me realize that this is an Audi afterall. The MMI interface lets one select individual settings and stuff and this alters the steering, suspension and engine responsiveness depending on the selection chosen. As for the ride quality, even though, it was supposed to be all velvety according to the statistics, the Indian roads say otherwise. The Audi A7 Sportback in India has got a good ride quality however its no patch for the Mercedes CLS which is its natural competitor in India. Sharp intrusions do filter inside the cabin at low speeds and they don’t vanish even at higher speeds. However I feel that this is an easy compromise for those looking for handling in the A7.

The Audi A7 Sportback in India is available with a single engine option and that is a 3.0 liter V6 diesel. This 4 valves per cylinder engine has been around in India since the first A4 was launched with this engine option. However its power output over the years has varied and so has its weight losing capability. More than 25 kilos have been lost by it before it was transplanted into the A7’s engine bay. This weight loss comes from the cast iron crankcase which now uses vermicular graphite as its base. This construction is said to be the lightest yet the strongest in the entire Audi family range. Ample tuning has been done into the exhaust as also intake systems. The eight hole nozzled Bosch injector uses 1800 bar pressure and the Variable Geometry Turbo has been tuned to reduce the turbo lag. So for the figures, the Audi A7 Sportback’s engine produces 245 Bhp of power and a cool 500 Nm of torque. A 7 speed S-tronic transmission makes its presence felt. The transmission doesn’t have the clank noise that one usually hears from Audi transmissions and is a refined unit. The engine is more eager to rev than the one in the A4 and this complements the A7’s touring aspirations. Audi quoted a 0-100 kmph figure of 6.8 seconds while the top speed is an electronically restricted 250 kmph. As always, the shorter ratios ensure that the A7 is swift off the line while the higher ratios are in the interest of cruising and fuel efficiency. Well, its better that I don’t talk about the fuel efficiency part in this car. Inspite of being a high end diesel, the A7 could only return an overall fuel efficiency of 6.3 kmpl which is dismal to say the least. Some V8 or even V12 petrol engines return more than that. Infact, judging by the fuel gauge, one can easily make out that this car just gulps one liter of diesel in a jiffy. The fuel tank capacity is 65 liters which translates to an overall range of only 423 kms until a refill. The A7 comes with brake energy regeneration and 6 air bags. All wheel discs and EBD plus ABS and traction control(which can be turned off) assist the car in retarding its super motion.

Well, what can I say about the test drive? This car certainly is a one-off niche much like the Mercedes CLS class. However while the CLS sells less than 3-4 units in a month, the Audi would definitely see more numbers maybe in the range of 20-30. It is just because the Audi happens to have a diesel under the hood and also because it feels a bit more luxurious than the CLS. A comparison between the Mercedes CLS and the Audi A7 Sportback is on the cards soon. Regarding the pricing, since it’s a niche product, obviously the price is also higher. The Audi A7 Sportback price in India is Rs 64 lakhs, which is ex-show room, Thane. If I had that kind of money at my disposal, then I would definitely go for this car provided some one else foots the fuel bills.

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