AUDI A7 SPORTBACK (2014-2017)


5dr Hatch (3.0 TDI diesel / 3.0 TFSI / 4.0 TFSI petrol) [SE, SE Executive, S7, RS 7])

By Jonathan Crouch


Audi’s A7 Sportback offers a smarter, more unique option to Executive segment buyers. If you’re interested in an example of this first generation model, it’s best to try and stretch to one of the post-2014 facelifted versions. These got revised engines, smarter looks and plenty of clever technology. The result is a high-tech combination of style and practicality.

The History

You might think that a full-sized Executive car – say something like an Audi A6, a BMW 5 Series or a Mercedes E-Class – was a pretty desirable thing. Buyers in this segment though, don’t always agree, which is why in recent times, so many of them have drifted away into up-market SUVs and crossovers. In response over the last few years, the prestige brands have produced more dynamic and individual four and five-door designs to sell alongside their standard executive models. Audi’s offering in this regard was the A7 Sportback, introduced in 2011, but here we’re going to be looking at the facelifted version, launched in 2014.

As with the original A7, this updated version saw A6 underpinnings matched with some of Audi’s more exclusive technology, the kind of thing you’d find in the brand’s luxury segment A8 saloon. The facelifted range also gave A7 buyers the opportunity to choose an entry-level front-driven ultra diesel version capable of family hatchback-style running cost figures. It was technology though, that always sold people this car. Further up the range, the sporting versions were full of it, these including the 420PS S7 launched in 2012 and the 560PS RS 7 announced in 2013. In 2014, the S7’s output was raised to 450PS. A 600PS version, the RS 7 Performance, was launched in 2015. This first generation model made way for a second generation version in early 2018.

What To Look For

Like its A6 stablemate, this A7 Sportback generally has a good reputation for build quality and reliability, but there are a few things you’ll need to look out for. We’ve heard reports that the electronic handbrake can sometimes get stuck. The infotainment screen that should power smoothly out of the dash top on start-up can sometimes get stuck too, so check that. Apparently the lock on the fuel filler cap has a history of sometimes breaking, so check that and make sure it opens properly. On a few 3.0 TDI models, you might notice an engine rattle; faulty chain sensors are the cause, an issue solved when Audi introduced new chain sensors for this engine in 2016. If you’re looking at a 2014 or 2015-era A7 3.0 TDI and it has the rattle, then this can apparently be solved by the fitment of these revised chain sensors, something your dealer can arrange: ask if it’s been done.

We came across a few reports of the electronic steering needing software updated. And on the few cars you’ll come across fitted with air suspension, the wishbones can apparently occasionally creak, especially over speed humps and potholes. This can, it seems, be fixed by installing wishbones borrowed from an Audi RS5; yes, really. Audi’s quattro 4x4 system should prove reliable and the engines have all been used extensively in other Audi models so there should be little cause for concern there. Look out for interior scuffs and alloy wheel scrapes. Otherwise, you shouldn’t have much to fear, even from a high mileage example.

On The Road

It doesn't take long behind the wheel to discover that the 'sport' in ‘Sportback’ is there for a reason. Yes, it can feel rather remote if you're driving it lazily, but up your game and this A7 responds. It rides on a supple multi-link suspension system that enables Audi to offer a composed ride coupled with agile cornering ability. True, it never shrinks around you in the way some other big cars can manage and the electrically-assisted steering can be a little on the light side but the chassis is keenly sharpened, offering keen drivers enough options to compensate.

Under the bonnet, the engine range is based around 3.0-litre TDI V6 diesel power, an engine that was substantially revised for this improved model. For many, it’ll be sufficient in its 215PS state of tune, where there’s a choice of the front-driven ultra version or a quattro 4WD model. The ultra makes 62mph from rest in 7.3s en route to 143mph, figures the all-wheel driven version improves to 6.8s and 149mph. All other A7 models have quattro traction as standard and are artificially limited to a 155mph maximum. These include the A7 variant uprated 3.0 TDI variant we prefer, which uses a 272PS unit and makes 62mph from rest in less than 6s.

Onto the petrol alternatives. Given that over 90% of A7 Sportback sales will be diesel-driven, it’s actually a surprise to find that there are as many as three versions you can fuel from the green pump. The options start with a 333PS supercharged 3.0-litre TFSI unit borrowed from Audi’s S4 offering 440Nm of torque and rest to sixty in just 5.3s. Then come the sporting 4.0 TFSI variants; the S7 with its output boosted from the original 420PS to 450PS. And the mighty 560PS RS7 flagship model. In the S7, 62mph flashes by in 4.6s, a figure reduced in just 3.9s in the RS7. In the RS7 (as with that BiTDI model I mentioned), there’s so much torque - 700Nm of it - that the stouter 8-speed tiptronic auto gearbox is once again needed. A 600PS RS 7 Performance variant was launched in 2015.


The days when up-market cars with hatchbacks just didn’t sell are long forgotten thanks to Audi and its various Sportback models. This A7 is the best looking of the lot, its imperious, sweeping styling clothing all the qualities that make the brand’s more established A6 and A8 ranges so successful - effortlessly elegant design, advanced petrol and diesel engines and the option of quattro all-wheel drive. This improved smarter, more sophisticated version is certainly worth stretching to if you can afford to.