- Styling, comfort and performance
- Impressive mpg figures if EV range is fully utilised
- Tax savings for fleet drivers with excellent BiK rating
- Expensive – costs about £20k more than normal A7 model
- All-round visibility is not brilliant
- Claimed 141mpg only possible if lots of EV-only driving takes place
Audi has taken its ever-popular five-door A7 and given it the added appeal of plug-in hybrid technology. It still looks amazing with performance capabilities to match, but it does bring impressive financial savings to the mix for business drivers with excellent fuel efficiency and low carbon emissions.
On the downside, there is a hefty chunk added to the initial price-tag. But even with that taken into account, the plug-in hybrid A7 will make business users sit up and take note, especially those looking for a car priced in the ‘executive’ bracket.
On The Road
This Audi is identified by its TFSI e badge with the TFSI referring to the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine and the ‘e’ denoting an electric motor to either support the petrol engine or power the car in pure electric mode – charge permitting.
And despite its clear focus on efficiency, this vehicle is certainly no slouch. In fact the A7 Sportback 55 TFSI e quattro delivers impressive performance on all counts with 367ps of power and a whopping 500Nm of pulling power. Those figures result in a 0-62mph sprint time of 5.7 seconds and a maximum speed that is electronically limited to 155mph.
There is a smooth double-clutch seven-speed S tronic transmission along with quattro all-wheel drive and the steering wheel mounted paddles offer extra driver engagement when fizzing along country lanes in this impressive hybrid.
The acceleration is rapid-fire which makes swift work of overtaking at short notice and the power levels seem relentless. The electric-only range is 24.9 miles (which is less than the average daily commute) and the car can reach speeds up to 83.9mph in EV mode.
It’s a vehicle that eats up the motorway miles for fun, likes to show its true driving capabilities out on the faster, quieter lanes, yet is also nicely composed and easily manoeuvrable in busier town centres.
The A7 Sportback 55 TFSI e quattro is beautifully balanced with accurate steering that delivers plenty of driver feedback. You can explore the Drive Select option to switch through the various driving modes called Efficiency, Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual. It will come as little surprise to learn that Dynamic is the most exhilarating choice.
But this car offers all manner of clever technology that works away behind the scenes. For example, apart from the Drive Select, there are three other driving mode settings. The Hybrid mode is the default setting whenever a sat nav destination is entered and this enables the system to select the most efficient power solution automatically to get you from A to B, be that fully electric, petrol power alone or a combination of the two.
Then in EV mode, the car relies purely on the electric power unless you press hard on the accelerator at which point the petrol unit fires back into action. Finally, the Battery Hold mode saves the charge at its level to be used when needed.
My only slight criticism is the extra weight the hybrid model carries – it’s about 200kg heavier than the standard A7 so the car does feel a little bulkier on the country lanes, but it is still most enjoyable with ample power and acceleration at your disposal.
There’s no denying the fact that the A7 Sportback 55 TFSI e quattro is a beautifully-styled car with lots of eye-catching design cues. For starters it has an athletic yet muscular coupe-like silhouette with sleek curvaceous lines. There is a gloss black radiator grille and black air intakes, LED headlights with LED rear lights, privacy glass, 20-inch alloy wheels with red brake calipers and the Tango Red metallic paintwork is the perfect finishing touch.
Move inside and the interior oozes class with the highest quality fixtures and fittings. It’s premium standard through and through with the finest leather upholstery, powered seats that can be heated, a heated steering wheel and all the creature comforts we would expect from a high-end manufacturer.
The cabin is well insulated from any noise intrusion caused by the engine, road surface or wind and most bumps and dips are nicely cushioned by the highly efficient suspension set-up.
The noise levels get a little more elevated in Dynamic mode, but switch across to Comfort for a refined and relaxing driving experience. Often the Individual setting is overlooked, but it’s worth exploring as you can mix and match your preferred profiles such as your favourite throttle reactions, steering input, gear shift points and the likes.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
With powered seats and plenty of steering wheel adjustment, getting the perfect driving position is a quick and simple process. There are also memory settings to store your preferred settings just in case someone else gets behind the wheel and alters everything.
The focal point are the twin touchscreens – one 10.1-inches and the other 8.6-inches - with haptic feedback. And the only noticeable difference on this model compared to a standard A7 is the extra information about energy consumption, electric driving range and charge levels etc.
The 12.3-inch virtual cockpit tft display looks as fabulous as ever behind the steering wheel and can be personalised according to preference with superb 3D graphics for the sat nav.
The temperature settings are nice and easy to adjust on the fly which is a blessing these days with so many car makers hiding the settings in over-complicated touchscreen menus. But the Audi has been well thought out with plenty of kit but a sense of keeping the operations as simple as possible. Connecting a smartphone via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto takes a matter of seconds and there is a wireless charger beneath the centre armrest for convenience.
Like most coupe-styled vehicles, all-round visibility is not the best. This is mainly due to the narrow rear window, rather large B pillars and the fact that you are sitting quite low to the ground.
Space & Practicality
The Audi A7 Sportback 55 TFSI e is a larger-than-life model stretching just shy of five metres in length and that means there is oodles of room within the car for passengers. Although it is billed as a five-seater and width-wise there is ample space for a trio of adults in the back, the poor soul relegated to the middle seat will have to straddle the large transmission tunnel. Ideally this seat is better suited to a child.
Up front there is bags of room and comfort levels are sublime with luxurious seats that are power-operated with memory settings and they can also be heated.
The boot is accessed via a power-operated tailgate and it can accommodate 380 litres of kit although this limit increases to 1,235 litres thanks to 40:20:40 split folding rear seats. This is a reduction on the normal A7 Sportback as the battery is stored beneath the boot floor and eats into the luggage space.
But there are a number of handy storage options scattered throughout the vehicle. These include a lockable glovebox, door pockets, trays, cup holders, plus a small centre storage box where the wireless charger and USB ports can be found. Back seat passengers are treated to their own individual climate control settings and also have a tray and cup holders in the fold-down centre armrest, along with door pockets and nets in the seat backs.
Charging the car’s battery from a 7.4kW wallbox takes about two-and-a-half hours.
The Audi A7 Sportback 55 TFSI e Competition model was priced at £68,425, but a few options saw the final cost creep up to £73,095.
The extras on our car included a Comfort & Sound pack costing £1,895 that adds a Bang & Olufsen premium sound system, 360-degree cameras, extra LED interior lighting and a more advanced key set-up. The car also featured a City Assist pack (£1,375) that introduced Audi Side Assist, Pre-Sense Rear and Cross Traffic Front to the mix and finally there was upgraded metallic paint costing £685.
According to official figures, the test car could deliver combined fuel economy 141.2mpg and carbon emissions of 46g/km, which in itself brings plenty of savings to the business driver. That low C02 figure would mean there would be no Vehicle Excise Duty charge for the first year. But, don’t get too excited because as of April 2020, an additional £320 fee applies to cars costing more than £40,000 for the first five years of standard rate payments.
The insurance group rating for the Audi A7 Sportback 55 TFSI e Competition is 49.
Quality & Reliability
Audi, on the whole, has a good solid reputation when it comes to reliability and it’s difficult to see why this hybrid model should prove any different.
The interior is well constructed with practical wipe-clean surfaces and high quality upholstery throughout. The switchgear has a solid feel to it and although the haptic response on the touchscreens takes a little getting used to, it does work well and the screens can easily be swiped clean from mucky fingerprints.
One area existing customers often raise concerns about is the high costs of servicing and repairing vehicles. But this tends to be a complaint across the board with premium brands.
The car comes with Audi’s three year, 60,000-mile warranty.
Safety & Security
The Audi A7 plug-in Sportback is packed to bursting with safety systems and driver assistance aids and it gains the same maximum five-star rating as the combustion engine-powered model when it was tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating.
The car features all the standard safety kit, including a full suite of airbags, Isofix fixtures, anti-lock brakes and Audi’s acclaimed quattro all-wheel-drive system to keep you firmly planted no matter how drastic the weather or driving conditions are.
But there is also a wealth of driver assist systems to help prevent accidents happening in the first place. The Audi Pre-sense front monitors traffic in front of the car for potential collision hazards. If a problem is detected a warning signal is issued to the driver. If ignored, this is followed by automatic brief braking.
There is Lane Departure Warning, a Cruise Control System with Speed Limiter, a Rear-view Camera, a Parking Assist with front and rear parking sensors and lots more besides.
The optional safety kit on our car introduced Audi Side Assist to help the driver when changing lanes. It uses radar sensors located in the rear bumper to warn of other vehicles in the blind spot. The Pre-sense Rear monitors vehicles following from behind and if a collision is considered possible the driver is warned visually by a flashing light. Then the safety system closes the windows and will also tighten front seat belts.
Finally, the Cross Traffic Assist Front warns the driver about traffic crossing in front or to the side of the vehicle. This is really handy when pulling onto a road where there is poor visibility at the junction.
An immobiliser and Thatcham Category One alarm are fitted to help protect the vehicle from intruders.