Audi S7 VS Audi A5
- Supermodel good looks.
- Smooth engine/transmission combo.
- Liftback practicality.
- Limited rear-seat headroom.
- Expensive options.
- Rear-wheel steering.
- Stunning looks
- Masterful interior
- Plenty of great technology
- Firm-ish suspension could grate in city
- Lacks the practicality of a four-door
- Steering not as sharp as S5 model
If you want something large, fast and comfortable, no one does it better than the Germans, and the latest entrant to the market is Audi’s all-new S7 Sportback.
Using the uber-stylish second-generation A7 as a basis, the new S7 Sportback scores cutting-edge technology and premium appointments befitting a large luxury sedan, but it’s often what’s under the bonnet that will draw buyers in.
This new S7 replaces the old version’s 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 for a 2.9-litre twin-turbo petrol V6 but, don’t fear, as having fewer cylinders has not dulled its performance or appeal.
As a whole though, does the new Audi S7 Sportback deliver a winning blow?
|Engine Type||4.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Beauty is one of those things that’s near impossible to get across-the-board agreement on. What I think is cutting-edge and cool, you might think is the definition of trying too hard, and vice versa.
Or, to put it another way, we’ve been assured Ssangyong has sold more than zero cars, so their design has got to be working for someone, somewhere.
Of the 2017 Audi A5 Coupe, however, there can be no debate. It is beautiful. It’s indisputable. A perfectly placed collection of sleek lines, bulging guards and powerful stance.
But with a new platform, new suspension and an overhauled suite of engines, the question is whether this sleek coupe is more than just a pretty face.
The second-generation version of the A5 Sportback is set to appear in May, while the new A5 Cabriolet will follow later this year. For now, the two-door Coupe will lead the charge.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
Audi’s S7 Sportback wraps style, comfort and sportiness in an appealing package that is sure to please onlookers and occupants alike.
The great engine/transmission aside, the S7 Sportback also has cutting-edge technology at a more affordable pricetag, though less-than-comfortable rear-seat space lets it down a little.
We wish the car we sampled didn’t have the all-wheel steering, as we much preferred the more neutral feel of the S6 sedan we also drove but, overall, the S7 Sportback puts forward a strong case for its existence.
Stunning to behold, quiet to sit in and swimming in technology, the A5 Coupe ticks a lot of boxes. We’ll wait ’til we’ve driven it in the city before we make a final verdict, but at glance, there’s a lot to love about this sexy, slinky two-door.
Would the Audi A5 be your pick of the premium mid-size coupes? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
Audi’s second-generation A7 has always been a bit of a looker, but Audi has taken it up another notch in the S7 Sportback.
Differentiating the S7 Sportback is a more aggressive bodykit, complete with larger air intakes up front, blacked out exterior trim, quad-exhaust tips (denoting that it’s an Audi Sport model) and large 21-inch wheels
The S7 doesn’t go too overboard with the aggressive appointments however (that’s what the top-spec RS7 Sportback, due here later this year, is for), but balances its sportiness with a stately aesthetic.
We think the S7 Sportback is stunning, especially the white exterior colour that gives it an almost Stormtrooper-like look, but even our test car, finished in Daytona Grey, while much more subtle, is still easy on the eyes.
We especially like the strong shoulder line, chiselled doors and sloping roofline of the Sportback body style that combine in profile to make the S7 look like a sprinter on the starting blocks ready to pounce.
Inside, the S7 Sportback scores all of Audi’s latest interior technology, including a 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit instrumentation and dual-screen centre console layout.
The triple screen set-up definitely helps the S7 Sportback feel very cutting-edge from the driver’s seat, especially when you start to play around with the multimedia system that sports haptic feedback when you press the screen.
Everything is laid out in a clear, concise and easy-to-use manner, while the surfaces of the dashboard are covered in soft-touch, premium materials.
If we’re being honest, we'd probably skip the red-leather interior of our test car in favour of something a little more subdued, but to each their own.
We like the integrated air-vents that blend well into the dash, while the sea of black is broken up with some aluminium detailing and different finishes.
The original A5 was penned by a gentleman by the name of Walter de Silva (he of Lamborghini Egoista and Audi R8 fame), who described his car as “the most beautiful I've ever created."
If it ain’t broke, and all that. Audi’s design team has tinkered around the edges of its A5 Coupe, reworking the grille and headlights, and adding bulges to the bonnet and creases to the bodywork, but the family resemblance is clear.
And it works: all wide and low front end, windswept roofline and muscular guards. Inside, too, is a perfectly executed space, at once premium and polished, and with an obvious attention to detail.
Measuring 4969mm long, 1908mm wide, 1417mm tall and with a 2928mm wheeblase, the S7 Sportback falls well and truly into the large car class.
Up front, the driver and passenger have plenty of room, while the seats and steering wheel are almost infinitely adjustable to find the perfect position.
As you can imagine though, the sloping roofline does eat into the rear-seat headroom a little.
The outboard seats offer plenty of leg- and shoulder-room, but the slanted roof prevents my six-foot-tall frame from sitting up straight comfortably.
Don’t get me wrong, the space is perfectly useable for children or even some smaller adults, but don’t expect to get any basketball players in those seats.
As for the middle seat, only children will find it comfortable due to the protruding transmission tunnel and higher-set seat.
The S7 Sportback’s boot offers at least 535 litres of space and expands to 1380L with the 40:20:40 split-fold rear seats stowed.
Being a liftback (or Sportback in Audi parlance) means the boot is much more practical than a standard sedan, and with such a large aperture, bigger items such as suitcases or golf clubs won’t be annoying to load and unload.
Bag hooks, storage tie-down points and carbo netting also feature to ensure your goods don’t roll around when the S7 Sportback is in motion.
Storage around the cabin though, could be a little better as the wireless smartphone charger takes up a fair chunk of room in the shallow central storage bin under the front armrest.
The usual storage tray found ahead of the shifter is also absent, due to the dual-screen centre console layout, but two generous cupholders and sizeable door pockets are still available up front.
Second-row passengers get access to a fold-down armrest with shallow storage tray and cupholders, as well as door pockets that can accommodate large bottles.
It’s a Coupe in the traditional sense of the word, so expect two doors, four seats and some slightly awkward acrobatics if anyone older than a teenager tries to get into the rear seats.
Front and back passengers get a cupholder each, while the rear-seat passengers also score their own air-con controls and a power outlet. Expect two ISOFIX attachment points, one in each window seat in the back.
Boot space is listed at 465 litres (up 10 litres on the previous generation car) and the rear seat is split 40/20/40.
Price and features
Priced at $159,900 before on-road costs, the new S7 Sportback is about $20,000 cheaper than before.
While the $20,000 saving is nice, we’d argue that maybe the $180,000 pricetag for an S7 was a bit high to begin with.
Aside from the new engine (more on that below), the S7 Sportback comes standard with a laundry list of equipment, including keyless entry, push-button start, 21-inch wheels (available in three designs), adaptive air suspension, privacy glass for the rear, electric tailgate with gesture control, soft-close doors, panoramic sunroof and Matrix LED headlights.
As expected of an Audi, the interior is kitted out with leather and soft-touch materials throughout, but it's equipment such as the illuminated seat belt buckles and loose wheel-nut detection that really elevate it above its peers.
The multimedia system is displayed on a 10.1-inch touchscreen and features satellite navigation with real-time traffic alerts, wireless Apple CarPlay support, Android Auto connectivity, Wi-Fi hot-spotting, wireless smartphone charging and digital radio, while the four-zone climate controls are nestled in the lower 8.6-inch screen.
While we prefer physical buttons to a purely touchscreen set-up, Audi’s implementation is fantastic thanks to the haptic feedback from the screens, which mimic a button press.
We also like that there is a dedicated volume-control knob, meaning you aren’t fumbling around with the touchscreen while driving to turn down the music.
The S7 Sportback also features Audi’s signature 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit panel, which is still the best application of a digital instrumentation.
We’ve gone into detail about why we love it so much in the past, but a quick recap is that it's super-easy to use, can be customised to show whatever you want to see, and is clear in its layout.
Despite the long list of equipment, there are still a few items left on the options list.
Some, such as ceramic brakes and a Dynamic Package, are aimed to improve performance around the bends, so it’s nice that the extras aimed at a particular type of customer are not bundled into the asking price for everyone.
Likewise, there are also comfort- and style-orientated choices such as carbon interior, DVD player (in 2020?), heated rear seats and a premium sound system, but with the latter costing $11,700, the S7 Sportback’s price can quickly balloon.
Eight exterior colours are also available, each a no-cost choice.
The A5 Coupe range arrives in a single, well-equipped trim level, with how much that will cost you is dependent on what engine you want, and whether you want the power sent to the front wheels, or all four.
The story begins with the 2.0 TFSI S tronic ($69,900), while opting for the diesel-powered 2.0 TDI quattro S tronic will lift the asking price to $73,900. Top of the A5 tree is the 2.0 TFSI quattro S tronic ($81,500), which also adds some extra kit.
Engine options aside, the S5 arrives with 18-inch alloys, LED headlights and tail-lights, a nav-equipped 8.3-inch centre screen and Audi’s 12.3-inch virtual cockpit, which replaces the old-school dials you used to find in your driver’s binnacle.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto also make the standard features list, along with a 10-speaker stereo and a customisable ambient interior lighting set-up. Leather seats, tri-zone climate control and a boot that opens when you wave your foot under it round out the feature highlights.
Spring for the 2.0 TFSI quattro S tronic (catchy name, no?) and your rims grow to 19 inches, your wheel is swapped for the very good flat-bottomed number from the S5, and your wing mirrors earn an auto-dimming function.
Audi has rolled most of its options into easy to understand packages for the A5 Coupe, too. The safety-focussed 'Assistance Package' adds things like AEB, active lane assist and active cruise control, and will add $2470 to the asking price. A 'Technik Package' adds a head-up display, Audi’s Matrix headlights and upgrades the stereo to a Bang and Olufsen unit, and will cost you an extra $5600.
Finally, the S Line Sport or 'Style Pack' will give you a sportier interior and a better-looking exterior, but will cost you $2500 or $3900 for the Style version, and $5900 or $7400 for the Sport version, depending on which model you bought in the first place.
Engine & trans
Powering the new S7 Sportback is a 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged petrol V6, punching out 331kW/600Nm, which is paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission that sends drive to the road via Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system.
The result is a zero-to-100km/h acceleration time of 4.6 seconds.
Keen-eyed Audi fans might note that those are the exact same engine and outputs as the RS5 Sportback, RS5 Coupe and RS4 Avant, and they’d be right, however, Audi has added the 48-volt mild-hybrid and an electric powered compressor (EPC) to reduce turbo lag in the S7 Sportback.
The mild-hybrid technology no doubt helps shift the S7 Sportback’s 2040kg weight with peak power now available earlier on in the rev range (from 5700rpm), while maximum torque is available from 1900rpm.
Compared to the older car, the new S7 Sportback matches its predecessor in power, but ups torque by 50Nm despite losing the old car’s 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine.
There are three engines on offer in the A5 Coupe, which begins with the entry level 2.0 TFSI S tronic, delivering 140kW/320Nm to the front wheels via the only gearbox in the A5 Coupe family, a seven-speed 'DSG' dual-clutch automatic. That’s enough to see the A5 flash from 0-100km/h in 7.3 seconds on its way to a top speed of 240km/h.
The sole diesel in the line-up arrives with the 2.0 TDI S tronic, which also produces 140kW but sees torque increase to 400Nm and sends its power to all four wheels via the same seven-speed gearbox. The 100km/h sprint is an identical 7.2 seconds, while your top speed drops slightly to 235km.
The baddest of the non S-stamped models is the 2.0 TFSI quattro S tronic, which lifts outputs to a healthy 185kW/370Nm, lopping more than a second off the sprint to 100km/h (now 5.8secs), and increasing the top speed to (an electronically limited 250km/h).
Official fuel economy figures for the S7 Sportback are 8.5 litres per 100km, but in our brief time with the car we managed 13.6L/100km, mainly due to the inner-city and country B-road driving.
The 48-volt mild-hybrid system works to reduce fuel usage, by as much as 0.4L/100km according to Audi, and allows the car to coast with the engine off between speeds of 55km/h and 160km/h for up to 40 seconds.
The start/stop system also aids in reducing fuel usage.
The entry level petrol engine sips a claimed 5.5L/100km for the combined (urban/extra urban) cycle, with C02 emissions pegged at 125g/km. Audi claims the 2.0 TDI engine uses just 4.7L/100km on the same cycle, while emitting 121g/km.
The biggest petrol engine trades its performance for increased fuel use, needing a claimed/combined 6.5L/100km, and emitting 149g/km.
Audi’s formula for a go-fast vehicle has always been simple – quattro all-wheel-drive for grip, potent engine for speed – and the new S7 Sportback remains true to that formula.
We are big fans of the 2.9-lite twin-turbo V6 engine, which is matched wonderfully with a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission.
The S7 Sportback always seems to have plenty to give no matter where you are in the rev range, and the transmission isn’t bogged down with slow gear changes up or down.
Though it’s hard to tell how much the EPC helps in getting the S7 up to speed, if you have you window down and accelerate hard from a standstill, you can hear the electronics whirring away.
The standard air suspension also does a wonderful job at absorbing road imperfections in comfort, while it can be switched over to dynamic for a more sporting characteristic.
Grip is plentiful thanks to 255/35 tyres and the quattro all-wheel-drive system but, as with other Audis, the S7 Sportback tends towards understeer when pushed hard around a corner.
Being such a long and wide model, you definitely feel the S7 Sportback’s size on the road, especially when navigating through quick direction changes, but this is where the $7700 Dynamic Package comes into play.
It adds a sports differential, variable ratio steering and all-wheel steering, all aimed at sharpening the S7 up in the bends.
Our test car was fitted with the option pack, but it left us a little cold.
The all-wheel steering especially, made the S7 Sportback’s handling feel too artificial for our tastes, and we were never able to gauge where the rear end wanted to go in a corner.
If we were buying one, we’d leave the Dynamic Package option box unticked.
Bringing the S7 Sportback to a stop are big 400/350mm brake rotors front/rear, with six-piston callipers in the front.
Ceramic brakes with grey-painted callipers can be optioned for $18,000, but the standard stoppers do a fine job scrubbing speed in the S7 Sportback.
The news is broadly positive right across the range, but we focussed our attention on the top-spec petrol (TFSI S tronic Quattro) which is not just expected to be the biggest seller in the revised A5 Coupe range, but is also by far the closest thing to a happy compromise between the harder S5 and the more sedate and softer entry level models.
With no adaptive suspension anywhere in the A5 family, the standard tune can sail perilously close to uncomfortable on dodgy road surfaces, and it does allow the occasional imperfection to enter the cabin. But it pays off in spades when you find yourself on a twisty road, with the all-wheel drive A5 TFSI S tronic sitting reassuringly flat as you tackle all but the tightest of corners (where it can rock a little as you enter a particularly tight turn). Whether the firm-ish ride becomes a pain on the pockmarked surfaces of the CBD, however, remains to be seen.
The steering in the Quattro isn’t as sharp or direct as it is in the S5 (but it is better than in the front-wheel drive model) and there’s more play on-centre and less precision turning into corners, but away from the back roads and back in the city (where this car will surely spend almost all of its time) that should be a positive, and result in a smooth and composed commuter.
Audi deserves credit for the cabin noise (or lack of it), which is very good, and the razor-thin A-pillar makes forward vision terrific, though the view is predictably less good out the back. It might not be as sharp as the S5, which gets its own unique steering tune and an adaptive damper setup, but the combination of supermodel looks and on-board technology will make it a tempting proposition in the luxe-Coupe market.
Audi’s S7 Sportback was awarded a maximum five-star safety rating by ANCAP based on crash-testing done by Euro NCAP in 2018.
The S7 scored 93 and 85 per cent in the adult- and child-occupant protection tests, while the vulnerable road user and safety assist categories yielded an 81 and 78 per cent score respectively.
Standard safety equipment includes tyre pressure monitoring, autonomous emergency braking, driver attention alert, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, surround-view monitor, front and rear parking sensors, rear cross-traffic alert and a head-up display.
The AEB system is operational from 10-85km/h according to ANCAP’s documentation, and comes with pedestrian and cyclist detection.
Noticeably absent from the safety list is traffic-sign recognition, though the satellite navigation will give the speed-limit readout based on GPS data.
The S7 Sportback is also fitted with an exit warning system to warn passengers of any incoming cyclists or cars to prevent opening a door into strife.
Expect six airbags (dual front, side and curtain), a reversing camera and parking sensors as standard fare, but Audi then ups the ante with a suite of high-tech standard safety gear, including forward collision warning with AEB cross-path assist and a driver fatigue detection system.
The entire A5 range was awarded the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating.
Like all new Audi models, the S7 Sportback comes with a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty with three years roadside assist.
Scheduled service intervals are every 15,000km/12 months, whichever comes first.
A three- or five-year service plan is available for the S7 Sportback, priced at $2350 and $4110 respectively.