THE slow forward march of progress waits for no one and there is no industry where that mantra is more applicable than with technology.
While development usually happens at a snail’s pace, every now and then there is something that comes along that moves the game substantially forward – think the first Apple iPhone that brought the world into the smartphone era, or the Internet allowing billions to access vast sums of information.
While this technological leap can be rare, it has just happened again with the reveal of Audi’s new cutting-edge, tech-laden, new-generation A7 large luxury saloon.
Looking like a cross between the brand’s flagship A8 limo and swoopy A5 two door, the new A7 wears sleek, svelte bodywork that hides an awesome party trick borrowed from its predecessor – a large liftback rear door.
The designers however, didn’t just cobble together the design from various other Audi models. No, they wedded cutting edge computer-aided design (CAD) with traditional hand-crafted clay modelling with 3D visualisations to produce the new A7’s shape.
From the front, the five-door liftback wears Audi’s signature hexagonal grille proudly, flanked by one of three different headlight technologies – LED, HD matrix LED or HD matrix LED with laser high beam.
A sculpted bonnet also sits prominently, while creases in the side profile draw the eyes rearward where the tail-lights are connected by a horizontal red strip – giving the A7’s derrier one of the most unique lighting signatures in the business.
Built on the Volkswagen Group MLBEvo platform – the same underpinnings as the new A4 and A5, as well as shared by large SUVs including the Audi Q7, Bentley Bentayga and upcoming Lamborghini Urus – the new A7 matches its predecessor in length at 4974mm, while shrinking in width and height by 3mm and 2mm respectively.
Although the exterior has not lengthened, the cabin has grown by 21mm to liberate more space for occupants, resulting in more legroom and loading width.
Engine choices are yet to be finalised, but the Australian launch range is expected to be topped by a 3.0-litre V6 TSFI petrol engine pumping out 250kw of power and 500Nm of torque.
Paired with a dual-clutch automatic transmission with seven ratios, the 55 TFSI (so named under Audi’s new naming convention) will accelerate from 0-100km/h in just 5.3 seconds thanks to the brand’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system.
The new A7’s long bonnet is also expected to house a four-cylinder powerrplant at some point in its life – a first for the model – as well as a number of oil-burning mills. Naturally, high-performance engines are also likely for the liftback under the S and full-fat RS badges.
With four different suspension systems available, starting with a tried-and-true steel spring set-up all the way up to an adaptive air suspension system for the ultimate in ride comfort, the new A7 should be pretty handy in a corner too.
Audi’s Quattro Ultra system, which decouples the front axle when not required, and four-wheel steering, which helps manoeuvrability and low speeds and stability at high speeds, will also be included.
Up to 21-inch wheels will be offered from factory, while buyers can also choose one of 15 exterior colours for their new A7 including an eye-catching green, brown, red or blue.
However, the best thing about the A7 may actually be its tech-loaded cabin that sports not one, but two touchscreens – one a 10.1-inch unit and the other measuring 8.6-inches – lifted straight out of the A8 luxury limo to control climate and infotainment settings.
Audi’s 12.3-inch all-digital Virtual Cockpit display can also be optioned, as well as different in-cabin finish materials, while no less than four different sound systems can also be specified, topping out with a Bang & Olufsen unit.
The new A7 is only Audi’s second attempt at a large liftback limo, with the first-generation model debuting in 2010 internationally and landing in Australian showrooms the following year.
Rivalling the Mercedes CLS in the executive sedan market, Audi’s A7 garnered critical acclaim with wins in various Car of the Year awards from publications including AutoWeek, Esquire and Automobile Magazine.
However, the A7 didn’t quite have the same instant lust or sexy factor as its rivals, that is not until the sportier S7 and RS7 versions came along.
Forgoing the force-fed V6 powertrains of the standard range, both S and RS versions utilised 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol engines, enough to produce 309kW/550Nm and 412kW/700Nm respectively.
The German car-maker even put a new RS7 Performance version together last year, which upped power to a supercar-scaring 445kW while keeping torque figures steady.
Audi’s new A7 then, has a lot to live up to. Although only revealed in standard guise for now, it already promises a luxurious, tech-laden driving experience.
Hopefully then, Audi can work away and also deliver a hot-blooded performance version that lives up to its predecessor in every way.