In the automotive world, the term Gran Turismo evokes a balancing act between sportiness and convenience, reliable technology and innovation. Traditionally, cars with this honorary title are capable of carrying their occupants swiftly and comfortably over long distances. So what happens when these hallmarks of a time-honored motoring culture are combined with cutting-edge design, extensive networking and an all-digital operating system? For answers, look no further than the new Audi A7 Sportback.
The Audi A7 Sportback has always been regarded as a little marvel of design. When it first arrived at dealerships in 2010, it astonished both the trained and untrained eye with its fusion of the best elements from all body categories. And now the second generation, which was unveiled in October and is slated to reach the market at the end of February 2018, once again boasts coupé styling with the spaciousness of a sedan and flexibility of an Avant. Compared with the previous model, the interior has increased by 21 millimeters in length, resulting in greater knee room in the back. Rear passengers also enjoy more head room. Now measuring 1,050 millimeters, the loading width represents a further gain on its predecessor.
The added extra in terms of space and seating comfort is surprising because it seems antithetical to the even more athletic exterior styling of the new Audi A7 Sportback. Whatever angle the car is viewed from, it oozes sporty dynamism—from the sharp edges and taut lines coupled with a wider and lower Singleframe grille than the one on the new Audi A8 to the flat front end and a roofline that drops abruptly toward the rear. These characteristics are further accentuated by the car’s muscular, sculpted silhouette—its long engine hood, long wheelbase and short overhangs. Prominent contours emphasize the wheels, which are optionally available in sizes up to 21 inches in diameter. Striking lighting design rounds out the large coupé’s looks. This design highlight is compellingly showcased when the doors are locked and unlocked. HD Matrix LED headlights with Audi laser light are the top version available.
The sporty aesthetic segues seamlessly into the interior of the Gran Turismo. A minimal, clean design idiom evoked by the horizontal lines and slender instrument panel creates a balance between suspense and subtle coolness. The Audi virtual cockpit display is optionally available as part of the MMI navigation plus equipment package. This, combined with two large touchscreens that come as standard with the MMI touch response operating system and the sophisticated interior materials, colors, decorative trim and optional lighting package, creates a futuristic lounge atmosphere. This impression is rounded out by the end-to-end infotainment and connectivity offerings.
But it’s not just the visible technologies that contribute to occupants’ safety and comfort—the ones behind the scenes also play their part. The optional dynamic-all-wheel steering, the new electronic chassis program (ECP)—the central controller for the chassis—and the updated air suspension add comfort while also making the car even more agile and nimble. These innovations, too, help to make the Audi A7 Sportback a truly great Gran Turismo—dynamic and agile on winding country roads yet comfortable on long stretches of highway.
What defines the Audi A7 Sportback as the harbinger of a new era above all else is the latest-generation, high-performance Audi assistance systems based on digital technology. Buyers opting for all three assistance packages on offer—parking (expected introduction mid-2018), City assist and Tour assist—will benefit from a total of 39 systems to make life on the road easier as well as increase safety and comfort on board. As the super processor behind the four rings’ digital technologies, the central driver assistance controller (zFAS) merges the data from numerous sensors to continually compute an image of the surroundings. Depending on the equipment level, five radar sensors, five cameras, 12 ultrasonic sensors and one laser scanner deliver streams of relevant data. What’s more, car-to-x services harness the swarm intelligence of the Audi fleet to add key information to the overall picture.
Efficiency and sustainability are also writ large in the new Audi Gran Turismo. All engine options in the new A7 Sportback come with an innovative mild hybrid system (MHEV) as standard. A belt alternator starter (BAS) works together with a lithium-ion battery to recuperate energy during braking. At speeds of between 55 and 160 kilometers per hour, the four-door coupé can coast in freewheeling mode and then conveniently restart the deactivated engine via the BAS. A significantly expanded start-stop function now activates at 22 kilometers per hour. When the car is at a standstill, the engine predictively restarts on cue from the standard front camera as soon as the vehicle ahead begins to move. In real-world driving, the MHEV technology is capable of reducing fuel consumption by up to 0.7 liters per 100 kilometers.
As at the 2010 premiere of the first generation, the successor Audi A7 Sportback is an impressive amalgam of design, comfort and high tech that’s not only worthy of the moniker Gran Turismo but also proves its prowess in an urban environment. Like the new Audi A8 as premium-class sedan, the Audi A7 Sportback is an ambassador for the four rings. Or to quote Audi Head of Design Marc Lichte: “In designing the Audi A7 Sportback, we wanted to make the high tech inside the car visible from the outside.”
Further information on official fuel consumption figures and the official specific CO₂ emissions of new passenger cars can be found in the guide “Information on the fuel consumption, CO₂ emissions and electricity consumption of new cars”, which is available free of charge at all sales dealerships and from DAT Deutsche Automobil Treuhand GmbH, Hellmuth-Hirth-Strasse 1, 73760 Ostfildern-Scharnhausen, Germany (www.dat.de).