The second-generation Audi A7 Sportback has been carefully but comprehensively updated, with smarter styling, revised engines, a hi-tech all-digital cockpit and a range of intelligent driver assistance systems. It's still a beautifully constructed thing but now offers just that little bit more polish in the face of some very talented rivals.
To start with, A7 Sportback buyers choose between two engines. There's a 340PS 3.0 TFSI petrol unit in the '55 TFSI' variant, which comes mated to a 7-speed S tronic auto gearbox. Most customers though, will want the 286PS 3.0-litre '50 TDI' diesel which uses an 8-speed tiptronic auto transmission. Both variants feature quattro 4WD and buyers choose between four suspension options, including updated adaptive air suspension that makes the car feel supple and luxurious during cruising without curbing its ability to iron out more challenging roads.
Through the corners, you'll appreciate a new 'Progressive steering' system, which features a ratio that becomes more direct as lock is applied. And for optimal ability through the switchbacks and increased lower-speed manoeuvrability, dynamic all-wheel-steering is also available from the options list, as is the quattro sport differential which actively distributes drive torque between the rear wheels for maximum cornering adjustability.
As usual with Audi models, there's a 'drive select' driving modes system that activates different drive profiles that tweak steering, throttle response, steering feel and ride characteristics. Audi says that this time round, the differentiation between comfort and dynamic options is more pronounced than in the previous model.
With its large surfaces, sharp edges and taut, athletic lines, the second generation A7 Sportback draws inspiration from the Audi prologue concept study that spearheaded the introduction of the latest Audi design language. Like the larger A8 saloon, one of this model's key defining features is a flat light strip which creates a continuous light pattern across the rear.
The digital cabin's completely new and very futuristic, with a sleek instrument panel adding to the feeling of airy spaciousness. Compared with the previous model, interior length has increased by 21 millimetres, resulting in more rear knee room. Rear passengers also enjoy more head room. A three-seat rear bench is standard for UK models, and when its backrest is fully stowed, the luggage compartment capacity expands from 535-litres to a generous 1,390-litres.
As with the A8, the communications hub of this A7 Sportback is Audi's latest MMI touch response' operating package which is based around 10.1-inch upper and 8.6-inch lower touchscreen displays which appear to blend into the dashboard when switched off. The two large, high resolution touch displays replace the rotary controller and satellite button system used by the previous model. They provide haptic and acoustic feedback as confirmation when a fingertip triggers a function.
This second-generation Audi A7 Sportback is clearly a car that a massive amount of thought and development budget has been ploughed into. It's a very considered thing, a car which pushes boundaries with its styling and engine technology but which feels reassuringly familiar to drive. The latest model improves the oily bits while at the same time keeping the look fresh and the technology indoors bang up to date.
Every part of this car has been designed with a thoroughness that's deeply impressive, if sometimes rather clinical. Of course, the end result is hardly inexpensive - and you'll need to spend plenty on options to fully sharpen its driving manners. Still, if that's not an issue, then you're likely to find this A7 very desirable indeed. It is perhaps the definitive expression of how Audi wants you to perceive its brand. Not all executive decisions should be difficult. Here's one you should enjoy making.Click here to find out more about our Audi A7 Sportback range