Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG 2011 Review
Maybe it's just the superb engine but Benz's new CLS 63 AMG hits the spot. Released this week Benz...
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The A8 and A6 models would fall into the category of "exec-express" vehicles and Audi calls the A7 Sportback an exec sports coupe.
Coupe used to imply two doors and a liftback rump but that no longer seems to apply - Volkswagen does the Passat CC (soon to be just a CC).
The E-Class-based Mercedes-Benz CLS shoved this style of car into the spotlight, but Audi took the liftback road perhaps as a point of difference to the Merc.
BMW did the X6 - a mixed-marriage of an SUV and a coupe - but there's a reason why BMW sells at least six times as many X5s, as Forest Gump says, that's all I have to say about that.
Regardless, we're in the A7 Sportback 3.0 TFSI - the supercharged V6 petrol model with plenty of bling.
The sticker price for the A7 Sportback 3.0 TFSI is $147,800, so we're in deep-pocket territory.
The standard car gets 19in alloy wheels with 255/40 rubber, power-adjustable folding mirrors, powered tailgate, automatic rear spoiler, power-adjustable driver's seat, leather trim, automatic bi-xenon leadlights, LED running lights, quad-zone climate control, keyless entry and ignition, a multi-function sports steering wheel with paddleshifters.
The standard infotainment system is has Bluetooth phone and audio link, with the Audi-specific connection for iPods, USB storage media and MP3 players, satnav, hard drive for map and music storage and a top-notch Bose 14-speaker surround sound system.
The test car also has adaptive cruise control, stop-start fuel saver system and the blind spot warning system ($4850), $1000 worth electric steering adjustment, LED headlights with automatic high beam (a $2700 extra), the head-up display (for $3400), metallic (pearl effect) paint for $2300, digital TV (for $3180) and soft-closing doors for $1450.
The big, black A7 also had the $7900 S line Sports package, which adds 20in Audi alloy wheels with 265/35 tyres to fill the wheelarches nicely, sport suspension and sports-styled front seats, an S line multifunction sports steering wheel, upgraded Valcona leather trim and aluminium trim bits, all up the as-tested price is $182,040.
The drive comes from the brand's smooth, quiet and impressive supercharged direct-injection three-litre DOHC variable intake valve V6 that we've seen in the S4, albeit with 245kW. The A7 has 220kW on tap between 5250 and 6500 rpm, with 440Nm of torque between 2900 and 4500 rpm, headed for the wheels via a seven-speed twin-clutch auto.
The V6 has a stop-start fuel saver system and a driving mode set-up to change the car's driving characteristics, although if you really want to do that there's the optional adaptive air suspension. The A7 also has active cruise control with stop and go function, which holds a set speed when on a clear road (regardless of terrain) and follows traffic at a set distance down to standstill.
The all-wheel drive system on the A7 was optioned up to include the sports differential (for $2570) which actively plays with the drive between the rear wheels to best effect, firing the beefy four-door out of bends with gusto.
The quattro all-wheel drive system already endows the big coupe the ability to vary the drive between front and rear, with as much as 70 percent able to go forward and up to 85 percent to the rear.
There's no doubting the designers in Ingolstadt are earning their keep - cranking out some vehicles with presence and attitude. The A7 has a broad, bold stance, made even more aggressive by the optional wheels filling out the guards. With the optional LED headlights and LED daytime running lights, there's no missing it at night either.
The hatchback rear doesn't stand up to scrutiny - it's broad in the hips and a bit droopy in the tail, although it still manages 535 litres of shallow and long cargo space, rising to 1390 litres with the seats folded. For such a large machine the cabin space is not cavernous - the front occupants won't feel hemmed in but rear passengers won't want to be tall, as head and legroom isn't copious.
The safety features list is extensive, although there's no NCAP rating as yet but five stars would be a good bet you'd think, given it has the Presense accident prep safety system, dual front, seat-mounted side, full-length side-curtain for front and rear passengers.
There's also anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution and emergency brake assist, stability and traction control, tyre pressure monitoring display, active headlights (standard bi-xenon or optional LEDs) and the optional night vision with pedestrian detection for $4890.
Dressed in a black hue, the A7 Sportback, at least from the front, has authority and arrogance about its broad road stance. With LEDs galore and the broad-shouldered presence, there's no mistaking it for anything other than an Audi.
Getting to grips with it from behind the wheel, you're a little conscious of the girth early on - helped by cameras and radar front and rear in a carpark situation.
Despite its size there's pace a-plenty - 100km/h comes up in 5.6 seconds and it has a governed 250km/h top speed - and the clever all-wheel drivetrain comes into its own on the bendy bits, despite the near-tow-tonne kerb weight.
Sling the Sportback through a series of bends and the average ride quality from low-profile rubber and sports suspension becomes less of an issue.
On a sweeping country road the A7 has grip a-plenty and turns in surprisingly well, sitting flat in the corner and then firing out far quicker than you expect for something that is not far off two tonnes - the clever diff under the bum does wonders for corner exits.
The two seated in the back might not have oodles of room but the seats are comfortable and there's dual-zone climate control in the rear. There's plenty to like about the Sportback but while some like the coupe lines, I'd be more inclined to stump up for an A6 sedan and spend the considerable difference on some options.
Audi A7 Sportback
Price: from $147,800
Warranty: 3 years/unlimited km
Resale: 47 per cent (Source: Glass's Guide)
Service interval: 15,000km/12 months
Safety rating: n/a star
Engine: 3-litre supercharged direct-injection V6, 220kW/440Nm
Transmission: 7-speed twin-clutch automated manual; AWD
Body: 5m (L); 1.9m (w); 1.4m (h)
Thirst: 8.21/100km, on test 13, tank 75 litres; 190g/km CO2
|Sportback 3.0 TDI Quattro||3.0L, Diesel, 7 SP AUTO||$30,910 – 37,180||2012 Audi A7 2012 Sportback 3.0 TDI Quattro Pricing and Specs|
|Sportback 3.0 TFSI Quattro||3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$31,900 – 38,390||2012 Audi A7 2012 Sportback 3.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs|