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Audi A7 stacked with features

Visually the striking the four seat A7 is at 4.9m by 1.9m (but only 1.4m high) a longer and wider version of the A5 Sportback.

More importantly, the new A7 Sportback comprises the essentials of the new generation A6 sedan and wagon, which will in turn be revealed at the Geneva Motor Show next March.

Visually the striking the four seat A7 is at 4.9m by 1.9m (but only 1.4m high) a longer and wider version of the A5 Sportback, built on a lengthier version of the MDS platform that debuted in the A5 Coupe and underpins in various configurations the A4, A8 and Q5 ranges.

While Audi Australia is negotiating price and specification, two engines are certain for Australia; the 3.0 TDI V6 turbo diesel and the 3.0 TSFI which uses the supercharged V6 petrol unit from the S4/S5. An entry 2.8 naturally aspirated V6 petrol, as is found in the outgoing A6, is being considered and would lower the guestimated starting priced.

All Australia bound models will have quattro all-wheel-drive with torque vectoring and a seven-speed S tronic dual clutch transmission. Audi spokeswoman Nadine Giusti says the front wheel drive multitronic version on offer in Europe is not on the local shopping list in the immediate term.

All engines feature thermal management, start-stop system and energy recovery. A Bose sound system is standard, as is Valcona leather and either wood grain or aluminium finish. So too is MMI navigation with touchpad and 8-inch display, convenience key, a three spoke steering wheel with shifting paddles and four zone air conditioning.

Options include Quattro sport differential at about $3000, sports air suspension, which is an extra $2200 in the new A8 sedan, side assist, adaptive cruise control, Bang and Olufsen sound system, and an S line sport package with lowered suspension, 19-inch alloys, sports seats and bespoke trim. The brands first self-reverse parking function is also on the options list.

Audis first heads up display is a possible standard option, but its online services, including a sat-nav function that integrates a Google Maps display, is unlikely for our part of the world.

Significantly, in terms of the A7s relevance to the sedan and wagon, the A6s project manager Burkhard Wiegand was present at the launch in Sardinia. Both ranges are integral to Audis plan to have on sale 40 distinct variants by 2015.  If you have children and want to drive a coupe that is more elegant than hatchback, the A7 is perfect, he says.

And despite attempts to name rivals as diverse as the CLS and BMWs 5 Series GT, Wiegand says: I think it is a unique concept (in this price range). Perhaps it seems similar, but they are very different.  Asked if the lack of a V8 in the current range pointed to an S7, Wiegand says only: In the future we will see.

He is, however, more forthcoming on continued criticism of Audi steering. Despite employing a revised system that is linear and accurate, the A7s continues the trend of most Audis in lacking feel something of a drawback in a brand that so readily proclaims its sportiness.

The weighting depends on the speed, he says. You can choose the mode with Drive Select. Our sense is the customer wants this.

At least the A7 promises a dynamic fillup for the forthcoming A6 which cannot come fast enough for Audi. As a rival for BMW and Mercedes-Benz, the oldest current Audi is a non-starter selling only 354 units in the year to August, while 120 5 Series and 172 E-Classes sold in that month alone.

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