Audi says 90% of European buyers will take their A7s with diesel power. So what’s on offer for those who want to think out of the box? We try the supercharged 3.0 TFSi petrol version to find out.
Quick recap please – what is the A7 exactly?
It's Ingolstadt’s answer to the Mercedes CLS, a luxury saloon that desperately wants to be a coupé. Think A5 Sportback but on a bigger scale. We’ve driven the 242bhp 3.0 TDi already, but this is our first go in the blown petrol six. Although it’ll go down well in petrol-loving markets like the US, Audi UK says the 3.0TFSi will account for just 6% of UK sales in 2011. But until the inevitable S and RS models arrive, this is as performance-focused as A7s come. The 296bhp engine will fire the 5m, 1770kg fastback from 0–62mph in 5.6 seconds before crashing into an electronic limiter at 155mph.
So why will most people opt for the diesel?
The petrol version costs roughly the same price as the diesel and, let's face it, with 242bhp and masses more torque, the diesel is far from slow, reaching 62mph in 6.3sec. Factor in the ability to cover 47 miles on a single gallon (compared to 34mpg from the petrol), lower company car tax that results from a reduction in CO2 and you’ve got the reasons why most sensible human beings will buy the oil burner. But then again, we can’t always be sensible, can we?
What's it like to drive?
With 296 horses charging underneath the bonnet, the car is hardly short on poke, and the throttle response is crisp and urgent. Both the 3.0 petrol and high-power diesel put their power down brilliantly in Quattro form (the lower power diesel and 2.8 petrol are front-drive), and while the diesel’s extra torque (369 versus 325 lb-ft) gave it plenty of shove up to 60mph, the petrol most certainly has the edge beyond that. But while the ride is great, the 3.0’s handling is more solid than scintillating; it can’t touch a Jaguar XF for entertainment when it comes to steering and poise.
If it is a five-door coupe-styled hatchback combining saloon prestige, coupe elegance and Avant functionality you are looking for then you will enjoy the new Audi A7 Sportback. Or you could have the same car wrapped up in a slightly less slinky body for thousands of pounds less by choosing the new A6 saloon instead. And don't forget that Mercedes second-generation CLS will also hit showrooms early in 2011.