The now range-topping A6 and A7 gain the A8's eight-speed automatic transmission which is a happier marriage. Photo Gallery
Paul Pottinger road tests and reviews the Audi A7.
It's here, charting a rural back route between the nation's capital and its biggest city, that diesel sells itself. We're doing nothing to add to the state's road fine revenue, nor are we sparing the horses.
Being the newest recipient of Audi's biturbo diesel V6, this A7 Sportback has stables full of them putting out 312 horsepower or 230kW and a fat 650Nm from its three litres. Barely animate at the legal limit pulling well under 2000rpm this latest beneficiary of Audi's Le Mans dominating diesel program can return 6.4 litres per 100km in ideal usage less than most popular small hatchbacks.
Even by the end of this 340km run, we'll have enough juice in the 75 litre tank for more than week's commuting in Australia's worst traffic.
As SUVs outsell cars, diesels are becoming more prevalent in driveways, if only by default. The pulling power and possible economy of diesels make them a default choice for soft- and off-roaders and a no-brainer for buyers from the bush.
Yet Australian mornings unlike those in, say, Germany have not come to be filled by the sound a million cold diesels rattling into life. In fact, the take up in diesel passenger cars has fallen off since they started to come online in numbers less than a decade back a wave that included the previous generation A6. That was car showed us diesel could dwell in the same sentence as prestige.
Part of it's down to the premium usually asked for diesel variants. More recently the new wave of turbo petrol engines has charted new heights of efficiency. Audi remains one of exceptions to the rule and as the A7 remorselessly reduces the distance to Sydney, it occurs that the petrol/diesel comparison is all but irrelevant a variant this accomplished should be considered on its own merits.
Being introduced as the range topper of the A7 and A6 sedan ranges, the biturbo V6 is refined to the point of inaudibility at speed. There's little agricultural about it even at start up. Just as you can fiddle with throttle, steering and suspension settings via the multi-media set up, you can modulate the engine note which is fed into the cabin via loudspeaker. It's an almost worthwhile fixture for its gutsy V8 petrol-like tone, the best sounding diesel this side of a Porsche Cayenne (which employs a twin turbo diesel adapted from none other than Audi).
Pushing the previous issue 3.0 TDI down the pecking order, the now range-topping A6 and A7 gain the A8's eight-speed automatic transmission, a happier marriage which does not eliminate doughy throttle response off the mark. Still, it feels more pronounced than it is in reality a 5.3 second 0-100km/h sprint time (5.1 in the lighter A6) is serious sports sedan terrain.
Where the A7 it gets lost in the translation from German is (as ever with sportier Audi) in the ride. While it would crush the clicks between German cities with the best of them, the Dynamic suspension setting is borderline unbearable on the B-roads of the so-called Premier State. It's better in that respect when turned to Comfort mode, but the edge is blunted on the bends for which you'd want it. Even on the flat freeway the A7 is too apt to transmit coarse chip irregularities to the cabin.
Barmy taxation means both cars, but especially this uber cool liftback, are wildly overpriced next to Audi's own SUV. The top notch Q5 is $75,800 against the $166,795 asked for this optioned up A7. Even its $148,600 starting price looks none too clever. The A6 sedan is $118,800 before you touch the options list.
We bet heavily on the same engined SQ5 SUV well beneath this point.
Audi A7 3.0 TDI Biturbo
Warranty: 3 years/unlimited km
Resale: 66 per cent
Service interval: 12 months/15,000km
Safety rating: 5 stars
Engine: 3.0-litre Biturbo V6 diesel, 230kW/650Nm
Transmission: 8-speed auto; 4WD
Dimensions: 4.9m (L), 1.9m (W), 1.4m (H)
Weight: from 1750kg
Price: from $120,900
Engine: 3.0-lite 6-cyl, 230kW/630Nm
Transmission: 8-speed auto, RWD
Thirst: 5.6L/100km 148g/km CO2
Price: from $126,800
Engine: 3.5-litre 6-cyl, 218kW/368Nm
Transmission: CVT, RWD
Thirst: 7.9L/100km 186g/CO2