Like most motoring journalists, I am often asked “What’s the best car you’ve ever driven?” After my short but well-rehearsed lecture on ultimate purpose and personal taste, some brave souls resort to: “OK, the best one you’ve driven recently?” Easy. This delicious new Audi A7.
Before I go any further, let me reiterate that above statement. There is no such thing as a perfect, best or flawless car because we have to factor in its purpose and the owner’s taste. Someone who loves hiking and trance festivals has completely opposite automotive needs to an aficionado of smooth jazz and libraries.
Having typed that, there are cars which can probably pull off Africa Burn and premiere night at the Baxter – a rental Polo springs to mind – but life’s just so much more delectable if you have the right set of wheels for the job. Again, I have to be careful here because this new A7 isn’t my perfect car but its abilities smoothed out my time behind the wheel.
As a fan of big, comfy German sedans I often criticise new-fangled rides with ridiculously enormous rims and painted-on tyres. This should’ve applied here too, but recent advancements in adaptive air suspension technology have gifted even the most ridiculously-shoed cars a modicum of ride comfort.
I’m unsure what Audi did to make this new A7 ride like this but in order to get my point across I shall abuse and manufacture quite a few synonyms. It glides. It floats. Like a butterfly, if you like. This strange hatchback-sedan’s ride feels like rolling over a bed of marshmallows. Feather duvets. Big bosoms. Heaven.
And I’d like to think that I speak from a position of authority because I have in my possession one of the world’s most comfortable automobiles: a 1970’s Mercedes-Benz S-Class. This leisurely tank will flatten out suburban speed humps road imperfections like no other… but this 2020-model A7 came perilously close.
Of course there are compromises either way. The old Benz corners on its door handles and the Audi lacks that last bit of 1970’s cushioning yet I will put my hand in the fire and proclaim that this fast-back saloon rides better than a contemporary S-Class. Well, probably until the new one comes out.
As for the rest of the car, it’s all pretty much as expected. Sharp-creased design meets Teutonic build quality, a superbly-finished interior equipped with many mod-cons we thought we needed in 2019. Just a word of warning though, Ingolstadt likes to charge extra for the really yummy stuff on their options lists.
The car you’re looking at now had R338,890 of extras fitted.
So that’s an entire Suzuki Swift Sport on top of this 55 TFSi model’s base price of R1,298,000 and the chief offenders were 21-inch alloys, S-sports seats, night vision assist, heads-up display, city assist package, black pack, S-Line pack, all-wheel steering, larger fuel tank, matrix LED headlights and adaptive air suspension.
Personally I would only go for the last three-or-so because, to me at least, they make real-world sense. A last warning would be that most of these items cannot be retro-fitted (via ebay to pre-owned A7’s) and air suspension shock absorbers like to cost 25 kay. Each. Thank Goodness for the Audi Freeway Plan of five years or 100,000km.
Now that I’ve waffled on about how sublime its ride is, I should also tell you about its velvet-glove metaphor of an engine. The 3-litre turbo-petrol V6 can generate up to 250kW (340hp) or 500Nm through a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox to all four wheels. 0-100km/h takes 5.3 seconds and v-max is the obligatory limit of 250km/h.
Although we don’t test top-speeds, we test acceleration claims (near sea level) via multiple well-planned runs in opposing directions. The best of those, no thanks to a soft launch control and Quattro AWD, was an impressive 5.14 seconds. A single full-bore stop from 100km/h took just 2.65 seconds and 37.34 metres.
This sort of fire-power means that the 55 TFSi fulfils another of my secret automotive desires… in daily driving it has plenty of power reserves. Not that you would ever need them – I certainly didn’t – but it’s nice to know that it can deal with most troublesome situations. Ditto for the brakes.
I won’t tell you about every button and driver aid in the cabin but can report on a few personal notes. The seats are typically firm while the steering feel isn’t. That hatchback is terribly practical for chucking bulky items into the back, the ground clearance is non-existent and there are way too many screens to contend with.
One mimics your instrument cluster, another does the usual media/nav thing but there’s a third one which offers you drive mode and ventilation options. Have you been copying your homework from Land Rover? If it weren’t for the automatic phone connection, media playback and climate control, this would be a deal-breaker for me.
Other, more glorious things I can report on are the highly entertaining and illuminating headlights, four pillar-less doors and enough cargo space to stow a family’s vacation luggage (535L). Rear head-room is tight for adults while seniors may struggle with the vehicle’s low seats and comparably small doors, all due to its sexy coupé lines.
In closing, the Audi A7 55 TFSi certainly impressed me on most fronts but isn’t exactly good value for money… then again, most wheeled conveyances in southern Africa aren’t. If you have the means to purchase a new one, or find a cherished used one, you have my partial approval and complete jealousy.