Audi S7: car review

Posted on February 28th, 2013 by James Luckhurst

Audi’s S7 Sportback is another tour-de-force of car engineering.

Audi S7: car review

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What is it?
The Audi S7 Sportback is a very high-performance family saloon, or, in Audi’s words, ‘five-door coupé-styled hatchback’.

How safe is it?
Among its huge range of high-tech equipment are a myriad of safety features that only the laws of physics could overcome.

Who should buy one?
The A7 Sportback is a car for those who see the initial outlay as of secondary importance to the car’s capabilities and technology. Even before you dip into the long list of options the S7 costs £61,995.


Our review: Good Motoring, Spring 2013

DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
Audi S7: car review
With 420PS (414bhp in old money) from the 4.0-litre V8, this car can Perform (with a capital ‘P’)! Audi’s Drive Select system allows a choice of driving modes. Settings can vary from ‘Comfort’ to ‘Dynamic’, to ‘Auto’ or ‘Efficiency’ and ‘Individual’; for out-and-out acceleration (top speed is immaterial in the UK), Dynamic mode shoots the car in an instant past anything else. This is of course a safety factor: the manoeuvre is so quick, with excellent steering and handling and the brakes so beautifully-progressively powerful.

Gear changes are best through Audi’s outstandingly good twin-clutch 7-speed automatic. It’s great fun, though, to use the steering-wheel paddles, especially on down-changes, which deliver growling blips that bring a smile to your face (if you’re that kind of person!). On motorways, it’s best to be in Auto mode, because, unlike in Dynamic, this allows 7th gear to be used.

SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Audi S7: car review
Behind the wheel, the first impression is of the look and quality of the fixtures and fittings. It’s tactile and smart. At night, the subtle cabin and instrument lighting adds to the ambience. An initial drawback for some with less than 20/20 vision may be the tiny symbols on the air conditioning controls.

Long runs prove how comfortable a car is; the S7 passed with high marks; I never had to wriggle around to find more comfort. Seat and steering wheel adjustments are all electrically-driven, naturally. The angle of many cars’ windscreens today, including this one, means having to do some contortion to get into the front; entry and exit from the rear is fine and space is good. There is a reasonable amount of storage space in the front.

The boot is a good size, with a large flat floor, underneath which is the space-saver spare wheel. Hooks and a net to cover luggage and loose items are very useful, as is the button to press in order to close the tailgate (although this switch’s position in the base of the tailgate may preclude people of a short stature being able to reach up to it).

SAFETY
Audi S7: car review
Safety is the most important feature in any car. The S7 comes with Audi’s Quattro four-wheel-drive system for all-weather traction, and has everything that the industry can offer for the protection of its occupants. Stability management and brakes will do their utmost to prevent skidding; front, side and curtain airbags; optional radar-based automatic and progressive braking if an imminent collision is detected – I experienced this once, at only about five miles an hour, and it was a bit of a shock.

There’s a system to give you a warning if the car is drifting out of its lane, and audio and flashing wing-mirror lights when a car is in your blind-spot. A whole raft of parking aids are available (some as standard, some optional), with cameras or diagrams, both front and rear, that can be selected as required, with audio alarms. It’s useful that most of these systems can be de-activated, because you don’t always need them. A further option is Night Vision Assistant with Pedestrian Detection.

All-round visibility is good. Other safety aspects are the tyre-pressure monitoring alarm and a voice recognition system; this last one is particularly important and every owner should really learn how to use it. Why? With so much sophistication on board, there to be used, it’s very easy to divert your eyes from the road to use the computer (Multi Media Interface – MMI) controls. I would go so far as to say that, ironically, satellite navigation and radio and music are potential killers if any fiddling around by hand is needed. On that note, a simple command telling the guidance voice to shut up would be a big bonus, better than having to select the mute button (which would also unnecessarily mute the radio). All-round visibility is good.

EQUIPMENT
Audi S7: car review
The S7 test car came with optional extras that totalled around £25,000! The Bang and Olufsen Advanced Sound System by itself is £6300. You may be content with less and spend the money on the fuel, car tax and so on. Standard features on ‘ordinary’ Audi A7s are numerous; the S7 provides many more, including one that may possibly appeal the most to those who set high value to the very latest technology in a car: active noise cancellation. Four microphones set in the roof lining can white out (through a ‘precisely calculated antiphase sound’) certain engine noise. How clever is that? Not desirable, however, when you’re in Dynamic mode with lovely engine noise coming through.

There’s also ‘cylinder-on-demand’: four cylinders cut out if not required, given a number of conditions such as engine revs, temperature, and at least third gear; it’s automatic and apparently almost undetectable. For your passengers’ comfort, S7’s air-conditioning is separately adjustable for the front and rear of the car, both left and right side.

COSTS
Audi S7: car review
At a basic £61,995 all paid up and legal to drive away, the S7 will be bought by a select few who demand the very best and latest, but who can’t manage a Bentley. According to the independent CAP Monitor, the S7 will cost nearly 98p per mile to run, and will have a residual value after three years/60,000 miles of 31%, which Audi claims leads rivals from BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

The S7 recorded 27.1 mpg on one relaxed 90-mile journey on country roads, dual carriageways and motorway; 24.3 mpg on a 350-mile return journey mostly on busy motorways; and 16/17 mpg on shorter outings in and out of town.

WE SAY
Audi’s S7 Sportback is another tour-de-force of car engineering.

AT A GLANCE:
Price: £88,795
Performance:0-62mph 4.7 seconds
Economy: 29.4 mpg
Insurance: 44E
Tax: Band K (£600 first year)