By Kingsley Wijayasinha
Audi is intelligently picking the right models to offer in Thailand, looking at areas where it can match or even beat rivals with attractively priced imported models.
Take the A7 Sportback, for instance. Priced at Bt5.399 million, this is a full-sized high-performance five-door hatchback that’s got everything you need, and makes you think “who needs a Porsche Panamera?” I picked up the A7 Sportback 55 TFSI quattro S line at the newly opened Bt1-billion Audi Center Thailand and was impressed at first sight. I usually don’t like large cars (especially quirky sportbacks), but the A7 has the sleekness that makes the five-metre body length seem acceptable, thanks to the low 1.42-metre height, resulting in a drag coefficient of only 0.27.
At the front are HD Matrix LED lighting, and there’s also light staging front and rear – when the doors are unlocked or closed, the headlights and tails lights team up to perform dynamic lighting animations.
The Thai version gets 20-inch wheels with low-profile tyres.
Despite its size and presence on the road, the A7 appears classic-looking and doesn’t attract too much attention when you drive around.
The interior is spacious and the quality does not disappoint – Audi is well-known for making excellent car interiors. I loved the gloss black/aluminium styling that has that very strong Audi design (but modernised of course), although I had to admit that finding the right seating position was pretty difficult (despite all the powered seat and steering wheel adjustments). The roofline is pretty low (there’s a large panoramic sunroof) and there’s not much headroom adjustment available.
The A7 features the Audi virtual cockpit that’s highly detailed and adaptable, along with MMI Navigation Plus and MMI touch response, multi-function flat-bottomed sports steering wheel, headup display, Bang & Olufsen audio system, Bluetooth connectivity, etc.
Move to the back and there is plenty of room (long, long legroom), in fact so much you start thinking who needs the A8 limousine? Children can even do somersaults in here. Open the luggage compartment and you’ll also be surprised by all that space (535 litres). Fold the rear seat backrests and you have as much as 1,390 litres.
The A7 comes with a MHEV powerplant, meaning that apart from the normal combustion engine, there’s a 48-volt primary electrical system and a belt alternator starter (BAS) generating up to 12 kilowatts of recuperation power.
Audi is moving quickly with its electrification programme, and next year we could see the German brand offering EV models in the Thai market.
Meanwhile, the base engine of the A7 is a silky-smooth turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 capable of pumping out 340hp and 500Nm, mated to a seven-speed dual clutch that’s so smooth you’d think it’s a conventional automatic.
The A7 weighs in at over 1.8 tons, but it never feels sluggish, and in fact when you floor the throttle it can accelerate like a sportscar. Audi claims 0-100kph acceleration in 5.3 seconds, and a top speed of 250kph. People who drive it would definitely feel it is more powerful than a regular turbocharged 3.0- litre car.
The steering is feather-light at low speeds and weight builds up as speeds increase, which is the way it should work. But you’ll be surprised how heavy the steering becomes during the first high-speed cornering opportunity you get. Nevertheless, the quattro all-wheel-drive system always maintains the best possible traction, and you just need to concentrate on where the car’s heading.
The suspension is multi-link both with stabilisers both front and rear. Audi said that the A7 comes with sports suspension but you hardly notice it as bumps and cracks on the road are still well-absorbed.
Audi brakes are always good in stopping performance, but the pedals are usually super-sensitive, making stop-and-go traffic exhausting. The brakes in the A7 have been improved with better feel and calibration, allowing for better convenience. Meanwhile, the braking performance is top-drawer as well, especially from high speeds.
There are plenty of driver assistance systems, plus cruise control, six airbags, all-around view camera with guiding strip (unfortunately no parking pilot or remote garage pilot which would be ideal for a car this size).
The fully imported A7 Sportback offers a good blend of style, luxury and performance, along with a comprehensive equipment package. And at slightly over Bt5 million, has pretty attractive pricing too.
Audi A7 Sportback 55 TFSI quattro S line specs
Engine: DOHC 24-valve V6 Direct Injection with turbocharger plus 48-volt mild hybrid system
Bore and stroke: 84.5x89mm
Compression ratio: 11.2:1
Max power: 340hp/5,000-6,400rpm
Max torque: 500Nm/1,370-4,500rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual clutch
Final drive ratio: 4.410
0-100km/h: 5.3 secs
Top speed: 250km/h
Average fuel economy: approx. 6.8-7.2 litres/100km
Suspension (f/r): 5-link, stabiliser/5-link, stabilizer
Steering: electromechanical powered rack-and-pinion
Turning circle: 12.2 metres
Brakes (f/r): vented disc/vented disc
Track (f/r): 1,651/1,637
Wheels: 20-inch alloy
Tyres: 255/40 R20
Fuel tank capacity: 73 litres
Price: Bt5.399 million
Distributor: Audi Thailand Co Ltd