Mercedes-Benz S-Class S350 2014 Review
It's one of the most recognisable cars on the road -- an imposing presence usually found at...
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A tax cut, low ownership costs, outstanding performance and luxury accommodation for five people. It's not a negatively-geared property but one of the most comfortable, fastest and longest point between two fuel stations.
It's a win-win situation. The only catch is the $148,600 for the Audi A7 Bi-Turbo diesel to start the ball rolling. This is Audi's third, and most expensive, A7 with the extra dollars supporting an extra turbocharger for the V6 diesel engine, extra chassis components to compensate for the extra oomph plus a higher equipment level.
Distinction has its price. The A7 is no cheapie and even the frugal fuel economy and the tax savings - it avoids luxury-car tax because of its low fuel consumption - will take some time to compensate for the $5000 premium over the A7 petrol model.
This is a big car, its swoopy lines making it hunker down to 1.4m high and stretching to 5m in length. It's not the easiest car to enter and exit and rear seat headroom won't take anyone higher than 1.8m.
The rear seat was built for two but recently changed to three, so the centre is a rather uncomfortable perch. Boot space is excellent in length but shallow as the tail slopes down towards the bumper.
Dash treatment is superb with easy-to-rear screen and switches. Quality is brilliant and little touches like the four ventilation outlets for the rear passengers shows thought.
This is more than just bolting on another turbocharger. Now the smaller turbo pumps until 2500rpm, then starts handing over the boost duties to the big turbo that takes over from 3500rpm.
Peak torque of 650Nm is from a very low 1450rpm and flat to 2500rpm, while the 230kW of power hits at 3900rpm and assists in the sparkling 0-100km/h time of 5.3 seconds - about a second quicker than its rivals.
This engine is also in next month's SQ5 SUV. There's all-wheel drive, big 19-inch wheels and a sophisticated multi-link suspension set up.
A five-star crash rating, lots of electronic aids, constant all-wheel drive, 10 airbags, reverse camera and park sensors, heated mirrors, xenon headlights though the spare is a space-saver.
It sounds meaty at idle, without the typical diesel clatter, but squeeze the accelerator pedal and this transforms into a guttural roar.
Audi has upspecced the exhaust with a loudspeaker so it sounds nothing like a diesel and more like a big-bore petrol V8 that is tuned to within a millimetre of its life. It's an addictive sound that may cause owners to become unwary fodder for speed cameras.
You have been warned. It's such a responsive machine, from the locomotive torque of the engine to the rapid upchanges of the torque-converter auto to the firmness of the electric-assist steering.
It boasts excellent handling, ride comfort that is compliant rather than plush, and it quickly endears itself to the driver. The downside is its size and limited driver visibility, though the sensors do help.
Distinctive car for the individual owner. Sensational performance and features but the A6 equivalent is the better buy.
Audi A7 TDI Bi-Turbo
Warranty: 3 years/unlimited, roadside assist
Capped Servicing: No
Service interval: 12mths/15,000km
Safety: 10 airbags, ABS, ESC, EBD, TC
Crash rating: 5-star
Engine: 3-litre V6 bi-turbo diesel, 230kW/650Nm
Transmission: 8-speed auto; constant AWD
Thirst: 6.4L/100km; 169g/km CO2
Dimensions: 5.0m (L), 1.9m (W), 1.4m (H)
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