Audi A7: the world exclusive
Completing CAR Online's hat-trick of Audi scoops is this - Ingolstadt's slinky answer to the Mercedes CLS. The A7 is due to land in showrooms in September 2009 and will be previewed by a concept at the 2008 New York Auto Show. For any manufacturer to launch a successful model against the CLS, it must turn heads like a scantily-unclad A-list catwalk model. So the A7 will be a sleek, four-door based on the mechanical package of the next A6. And our world exclusive official design sketch, leaked to CAR Online by Audi moles, shows precisely how the Audi will look, with a low-slung profile and a gracefully swept-back stance. Audis are slowly garnering a reputation as better drivers' cars, after a succession of smash hits (RS4, R8... is the jury still out on the A5?) and from what we know about the new A6/7, it looks like they should be more alert handlers than today's exec. Like on the new A4/A5 family arriving this year, the A7 will get a new steering rack, multi-link suspension and a rear-bias quattro system to quell the apex-busting understeer that's blighted Audi saloons for decades. Four-cylinder power is off limits in the A7, and so is W12 propulsion. Six- and eight-cylinder power is flavour of the day, with as many as six different engines expected: 3.0-litre V6 and 4.2-litre V8 FSI petrols, topped by Lambo-sourced V10 in normally aspirated and twin-turbo form for the S7 and RS7. Prefer filling up at the black pump? Then expect 3.0-litre V6 and 4.2-litre V8 TDI units. Pricewise, the natural home for the A7 is the middle ground which separates the A6 from the A8, so the bulk of the models should be positioned in the £35,000-£50,000 bracket. Naturally, in this niche-filling, expansionist era at Ingolstadt, there could be a soft-top, too. This single image, leaked from top brass at Audi exclusively to CAR Online, suggests Audi could have an attractive big coupe on its hands. But it won't have it all its own way; Mercedes is readying a facelift for the CLS in 2008, before an all-new replacement arrives in 2011.