2011 Audi A7 Sportback
2011 Audi A7 Sportback. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Bob McHugh

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2011 Audi A7 Sportback

Sardinia, Italy – The all new Audi A7 Sportback is a fresh approach to luxury car design. What you see is an extremely attractive four-door coupe. Less obvious is a fifth rear door/hatch that allows wagon-like utility and the A7’s hidden, lightweight yet very rigid body structure.

“Audi buyers typically place a higher emphasis on the aesthetics of the car,” said Cort Nielsen, Public Relations Manager, Audi Canada. “The look of this car is absolutely gorgeous plus it has all the qualities that make it an Audi – the technology, the interior and its fit and finish. And that oak dash (an option) is stunning.”

2011 Audi A7 Sportback
2011 Audi A7 Sportback. Click image to enlarge

While big in its physical dimensions, the A7 weighs in at 1,695 kg (3,737 lbs). It’s powered by a potent yet highly efficient V6 engine with hybrid-like fuel economy technology that’s mated with an advanced Quattro drive system with a torque-vectoring rear differential.

The Audi A7 could be described as a Porsche Panamera Lite: all the goodness without the calories! It’s a little wider than a Panamera but very close in every other external measurement, including wheelbase. They both have five doors, a coupe-like body design and a concealed tail spoiler that automatically deploys at high speed. The A7, however, is expected to be about half the price of a Panamera.

Over at Mercedes-Benz, the CLS is another vehicle that is likely to be cross-shopped with the A7. An attractive four-door sedan with a coupe roofline, pricing for the CLS starts at $88,500.

2011 Audi A7 Sportback
2011 Audi A7 Sportback
2011 Audi A7 Sportback
2011 Audi A7 Sportback
2011 Audi A7 Sportback. Click image to enlarge

Key design elements of the A7 are its long hood, long wheelbase and short body overhangs. Another is what’s call a “tornado line” or body crease that starts at the headlights, extends along the side, gently slopes towards the tail lights and then extends across the rear. Most of the A7’s body skins are made of aluminum, including the fenders, the lids and doors.

The A7 also comes with frameless door glass, side mirrors with integrated LED turn signals and LED taillights. Its covert rear spoiler automatically appears at 130 km/h and retracts again at 80 km/h, or you can activate it (any time) via a button on the dash.

Up front the grille is unmistakably Audi, with some subtle changes shared with the new A8. The A7 comes standard with ‘xenon plus technology’ headlights and a new all-weather light, integrated into the headlight. Radar sensors, for its optional adaptive cruise control (with stop & go function), occupy the usual fog light locations.

An adaptive headlight system with LED headlights is also available. These long-life headlights are extremely energy-efficient and emit a white light that’s easier on eyes. The system also includes variable headlight range control (low/high beam), which uses a small camera on the interior mirror to detect the lights of approaching vehicles or communities.

A unique feature of the adaptive headlight control unit is its link with the MMI navigation plus system. The navigation system sends advance route data to the light computer and it can do stuff like automatically switching on a cornering light before entering an intersection. It can even automatically switch the headlights from driving on the right to driving on the left, if you change countries.

Audi’s signature daytime running lights are strips of 18 LED lights that give the appearance of a curved band on the lower edge of each headlight assembly. And below them are the turn signals, another strip of (11) LED lights.

The power-operated rear hatch extends up into the A7’s roofline and when open exposes a large fully-carpeted luggage compartment. It offers 535 litres of cargo space and when the 60:40 split rear seatbacks are folded down it increases to 1,390 litres, which is almost 50 cu. ft.

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