Good: sublime engine, great looks.
Not so good: carries a sizeable price premium over S line specification.
Audi's 3.0-litre TDI BiTurbo is one sweet engine and gives a shot of performance without the price of either the Audi S7 or RS 7 Sportback - or the frequency of visits to the fuel station. With this A7 Competition, the wick has been turned up a little further with power output increasing to 326hp and styling tweaks.
The most appealing aspect of this diesel-powered super saloon [Technically it's a hatchback... - Ed] is the 650Nm of torque that is available from 1,400rpm. Then there is the tone. This 3.0-litre V6 doesn't sound like any normal diesel car on the market; it has a deep, purposeful rumble to it that will put a smile on your face even when trundling along in traffic. Admittedly there is some augmented noise trickery at play, but it works so well you really won't care. Sound aside, this thing pulls like a train and requires you to keep a close eye on the speedometer such is the deceptiveness of the car's real performance. Under full throttle, an over boost function delivers an additional 20hp for brief spurts, not that it ever feels lacking in power.
The quattro all-wheel drive transmission ensures reassuring levels of traction even in wet conditions, although the 265/35 R20 tyres never feel overwhelmed. Keener drivers will bemoan the seeming lack of a more rearward bias, as the Audi still feels just a little too neutral in its setup in comparison to BMW's rear-wheel drive configuration. Steering also doesn't match what you would find in a BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe, for example.
The A7 might have sleek looks, but it remains a large car, and it seems as such concerning how it handles on the road. It is low slung and does ride well on less than ideal surfaces, but even on 20-inch wheels it retains a degree of comfort expected from a car at this price point. You won't be throwing this Audi around like a nimble hot hatch; this is more of a big brute capable of devouring vast distances with seemingly minimal effort. Given the prodigious torque and outright grunt of that V6 engine, Audi says it is capable of consuming 6.3 litres/100km. In day-to-day driving, we saw figures that started with a '9', but over longer journeys the engine can comfortably cruise at near-idle rpm so we would expect to see the fuel economy improve in those conditions.
Matching the increased performance, the standard equipment of the A7 Competition is generous and builds upon the already stylish S line specification. On the outside this model is distinguished by 20-inch five-spoke 'W' design alloy wheels, door mirrors finished in gloss black, red brake callipers and black exhaust pipe trim and, as per the S line cars, sits 20mm lower than a regular A7. On the technology front, Matrix LED Beam headlights are standard fit too.
Even though the infotainment system and overall layout of controls inside the A7 are of the older generation, compared to the latest Audi A5 or Q7, there is still a look and feel to the switchgear that is reassuringly of high quality. The Aluminium Beaufort pinstriped inlays may be a €3,780 option, but they look superb and make a big difference to the natural wood or aluminium panelling. The seats, meanwhile, offer excellent lumbar and side support while still feeling luxurious rather than outright sporty. Room for the rear passengers in the two individual seats isn't massive, but it is a comfortable enough place to travel for average journeys.
With a €6,300 price premium over the regular S line model, you are paying quite a lot for just 6hp more and some painted parts. For the less budget-conscious Audi aficionado, however, this is one particular model that stands out to those in the know. And if you want serious real-world performance while retaining a degree of discretion, the Audi A7 Competition is going to tick a lot of boxes for you.