- Tech & Gadgets
- BRW. lounge
Published 20 October 2011 05:05, Updated 23 November 2011 11:32
German car manufacturers are sticklers for filling niches. For instance, Audi didn’t think it had enough to offer, so with the addition of the A7 Sportback, its range has been expanded to 20 model lines with 80 variations.
It’s outpacing Mercedes-Benz, which has 18 model lines with 75 variations, and BMW, which has 18 model lines with 73 variations. That keeps two junior car-spotters I know enthralled for hours. “That was an A6 3.0 TFSI quattro.” “Was not, it was an A6 2.7 TDI.” Gosh, they have more fun than bikini watchers on Bondi Beach.
And that’s before you choose between a myriad of options – because a lot of the good stuff costs extra. For example, the head-up display in the A7 costs an extra $3400 and LED headlights are $2700. Perhaps car makers recognise why communism failed – people want to be the same but different.
The A7 is a big car that stands out in the crowd because of its “four-door coupe” look that is a direct response – and owes much of its styling – to the category-leading Mercedes-Benz CLS.
I drove the 3.0 litre TFSI quattro, which has a supercharged V6 that pumps out 220kW at 5250rpm and has 440Nm of torque at 2900rpm and is mated to a dual-clutch seven-speed gearbox with steering wheel paddles.
It’s low, wide and fast, getting from 0-100km/h in 5.6 seconds. It’s also frugal, with fuel consumption on a combined cycle of 8.2 l/100km and CO2 emissions (combined) of 190g/km.
Despite its size, it’s an absolute delight to drive, with its four-wheel locomotion and intelligent traction control, it just sticks and when you need the brakes, they’re there in spades with confidence-inspiring feel. However, it’s not the smoothest gear-changer around: you certainly feel the downshifts at lower speeds but out on the open road it’s a lounge chair on wheels.
One of the great standard features of the car is called “Audi pre-sense”. This tightens the front seatbelts and closes the sunroof and windows before impact, if you’re about to have one, that is.
There’s also a new version of adaptive cruise control that keeps a specific distance from the car in front at speeds up to 250km/h. In slow-moving traffic and congestion, it governs braking and acceleration.
It includes a stop and go function that turns the motor off when you stop and starts it again when you lift your foot off the brake. This system is meant to save you money but costs $3570.
Other options include heated and cooled seats, night vision assistant, park assistance, sports differential and adaptive air suspension.
The night vision assistant scans the area in front and highlights pedestrians between about 15 and 90 metres away. If you’re on course to hit them, they turn red on the screen and an alarm goes off.
Strangely, no one wanted to be the guinea pig for me to test this feature. It costs an extra $4890.
While it’s nice to have that stuff, the feature most used is the multimedia connectivity. But to use your iPhone 4 with the multimedia system you have to buy a $110.55 cable and, to connect a USB device, costs another $107.90.
Everything is controllable through the large pop-up screen – it’s not a touch screen – in the centre console, including how the car is set up and the hard drive for the jukebox.
The A7’s pillarless doors and sloping rear give it a streamline and slippery look. Given its shape, it has a shallow, long boot with a self-opening and closing hatch. However, its size also precludes it from feeling like a nimble, sporty coupe.
It also has hill assist, plug in SIM card, SD slots, air-conditioned glove box, speed compensating stereo, bending headlights, a rear wing that pops up over 130km/h and retracts under 80km/h, dual-zone air-conditioning front and back and cruise control with distance sensor. A sun roof is extra.
But when looks are everything, the A7 is gorgeous and the judges at the 2011 Australian International Design Awards agree. It took out the automotive and transport category against the Kia Optima and the Peugeot RCZ.