Although very similar in overall size and shape to the previous model, the second-generation A7 is an all-new production showcasing Audi’s latest design language and technological know-how. Its first public showing will be Los Angeles motor show in November, with UK orders opening early in 2018.
The styling follows Audi’s current trend for an even larger grille and slimmer LED headlights up front, and slim LED tail lights at the back. Like the previous model, the new A7 Sportback has a large rear hatchback to access a 535-litre boot. Both regular (SE) and S Line trims are expected when the car goes on sale next year.
Inside, the A7 Sportback follows the lead of the new A8 saloon by replacing the previous MMI controls with twin touchscreen displays. An optional virtual cockpit digital display replacing the traditional dials, as well as a head-up display projecting selected information onto the windscreen, will give the driver plenty of information at any time. Size-wise, it’s very similar to the old model, with maybe a fraction more knee room for rear-seat passengers. UK-spec cars will have three seats as standard in the rear, although the centre seat is not going to be very comfortable for longer journeys.
The A7 Sportback will also provide higher levels of driver assistance and semi-autonomous driving, which will progressively ramp up over the anticipated life cycle of the car. The Audi AI system will allow the A7 Sportback to manoeuvre itself into and out of parking spaces and garages without a driver behind the wheel, and advanced cruise control support systems will help keep the car in its lane on motorways and A roads – much like the Tesla Autopilot system.
At launch, the A7 Sportback will only be available with a 3.0-litre petrol V6 engine paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission. Additional petrol and diesel engines will follow, and presumably a hybrid as well. All versions of the vehicle will have ‘mild hybrid’ technology, using a 48-volt electrical system to allow the battery to control minor systems and potentially even switch off the engine while coasting.
Final UK prices and specifications will be announced closer to the car’s UK launch early in 2018. Audi has suggested that prices will start at about £56,000 on-road. The new A7 will be in for a fight right from the start, however, as Mercedes-Benz is expected to unveil its new A7 rival, the third-generation CLS, in coming weeks.