What are you driving?
The petrol version of the new for 2018 Audi A7 Sportback, following our initial drive of the 50 TDI variant... although it should be borne in mind that Audi Ireland will not initially bring this car here, instead selling us the TDI in two different power trims of 231- and 286hp. Nevertheless, like its diesel stablemate, the 55 TFSI (the '55' pertaining to its power output of 340hp, ably backed up by 500Nm of torque) is powered by a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 engine and it sends power to all four wheels; the difference here being that the TFSI uses the fuel-saving 'quattro ultra' system, which decouples the front axle from the drivetrain unless all-corners traction is absolutely necessary. Like the diesel, and all Audi A7s to come, the 55 TFSI also features a mild hybrid electrical system (MHEV) with a lithium-ion battery that allows it to switch off the V6 engine and coast between 55- and 160km/h, if the throttle loads are light, and which allows it longer start-stop operating capability. This can save up to 0.7 litres/100km, apparently.
Name its best bits
Well, again like the TDI, the Audi A7 TFSI looks absolutely superb (especially in S line trim and Ara Blue paint) and it has a class-leading interior - a typical Audi trait, granted, but that's no reason to ignore what the German company has pulled off with this jaw-dropping, technologically-advanced passenger compartment. Said cabin is incredibly well insulated from the outside world and that V6 petrol engine up front is a peachy, smooth operator that provides seriously quick performance; six or seven years ago, we'd have been happy if a car this potent was badged 'S7'. The S tronic transmission, while not quite as smooth or reactive as the eight-speed Tiptronic unit in the 50 TDI, is nevertheless an excellent gearbox and the A7 Sportback is an easy car to drive - despite being a physically sizeable vehicle.
Anything that bugs you?
The ride still isn't right on the petrol model, which is a tiny bit lighter than the diesel (to the tune of 65kg). The advanced air suspension just doesn't know what to do if it encounters a variety of different road imperfections in close succession, allowing the body control to become loose and heavy impact noises from the wheels to transmit into the passenger compartment. Furthermore, less weight over the nose courtesy of the petrol engine does not transform the A7 into some sort of sharp-handling, pseudo-sports machine.
And why have you given it this rating?
We want to try the air suspension on our own craggy roads, and we also want to sample the other types of chassis set-up for the Sportback, which either are fully passive or which feature adaptive dampers. If the A7 can ride a bit smoother on those, or if we can more positively reassess the air suspension back home, then we'd be tempted to bump the Audi A7 Mk2 up by half a star. But, for now, the otherwise-excellent Sportback's unusually firm and occasionally flustered air-sprung ride is what keeps it from greatness.
I want to know more
If there is anything specific you'd like to know about the Audi A7 Sportback that we've not covered, feel free to send us a question via the Ask Us Anything page.