A6? S8? No, this is the new Audi A7, a hatchback version of the next-generation A6 and Ingolstadt’s answer to the Mercedes CLS. Caught on test ahead of its 2010 debut, the new A7 will carry a price premium over its more mundane saloon sibling, and be marketed as a posher, sleeker A6, in much the same way that the A5 Sportback is positioned slightly above the A4 saloon.
Does Audi really need an A6, A7, and A8?
Apparently so, but don’t mock them: Mercedes has the E-class, CLS and S-class and no one complains about its bulging model range. So while the A4 and A6 are more mass-market, mainstream saloons, the A5 Sportback and A7 are designed to offer sexier (and less practical) alternatives; the A7 will be available with four seats, and a fifth may not even be offered as an option.
The A6 and A7 share their steel-reinforced aluminium platforms, and it’s the A7 that will arrive first – an unveiling is scheduled for summer 2010, with the new A6 saloon to follow in early 2011.
High-end models will come first with standard air suspension and there’ll be a choice of petrols (2.8 V6 FSI, supercharged 3.0 V6, 4.2 V8) and diesels (2.7 V6, 3.0 V6 with one or two turbos), mated to manual, automatic or dual-clutch gearboxes.
Will there be a hybrid Audi A7?
You betcha. A hybrid version will follow in 2011, using the same electric motor and Sanyo battery pack that will appear on the Q5 hybrid next year. An S7 model is also on the cards, we may get an RS7, but there won't be any four-cylinder variants unless Audi can hit its sales target of shifting 40,000 A7s per year.
Expect both the interior and exterior stlying to ape the Sportback concept that was unveiled at the 2009 Detroit auto show, the latest tech lifted from the new A8, and a £2000 premium over the A6 when UK sales start towards the end of 2010. The A7 should be unveiled late next summer, and first appear at the Paris motor show, though there may be a surprise unveiling at the Moscow show.
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