Thursday, 19 November 2020

A masterpiece in motion

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A masterpiece in motion

In my opinion the Audi A7 Sportback is arguably the most well-designed vehicle.

Byline Thembekile Vokwana

I am guilty of being of one of the critics of Audi’s cookie-cutter design language of their models. My criticism is justified. But they have upped the ante with the A7. I was impressed with the design, luxury, performance, technological advancement. And yet when I had the privilege to live with the second-generation Audi A7 Sportback 55 TFSi Quattro Tiptronic (a bit of a mouthful) for a couple of days, it had all of the above attributes and more. Superlatives came thick and fast. The company’s design team under its Head of Design, Marc Lichte has done a superb job. This S-line derivative with its curvaceous, sexy and sometimes muscular lines is truly a remarkable piece of German engineering. A very delicate but highly successful balance between elegant and sporty without compromising Audi’s design DNA.

What is it?

It’s a sedan with a sloped roofline and fastback-style tailgate which made the 535-litre boot look even bigger. With the rear seats folded I could load a whole football team. For me this design probably represents the best of all worlds when it comes to design and practicality. With its beautiful, low-slung shape this executive four-door coupe from Audi is an exceptional piece of engineering. If one is familiar with car design, a coupe is a two-door body shape but it might come as a bit of an oxymoron to have a four-door body shape as it the case with the A7. 

A bit of a history lesson, as the Good Book says “there is nothing new under the sun.” The term four-door coupe is believed to be new but it goes all the way back to 1962 and the UK automaker Rover with its second generation of the P5. The available coupe body style kept the four doors, but lowered the roofline by 38mm and used thinner B-pillars. Dormant for decades, the concept was resurrected in 2005 in the form of the Mercedes-Benz CLS (now discontinued). That car really started the trend for the four-door sedan with a sloping roofline that we know today as the four-door coupe. Other car manufacturers like BMW with its 6 series Gran Coupe jumped into the bandwagon with varying degrees of success. Now back to the present, A7 Sportback 55 TFSi Quattro S-line possibly has the most appealing design and build quality. The design is quite edgy, with sharp but delicate lines. The supreme ride quality from the 22inch wheels coupled with the adaptive air suspension remarkably softened the rather bumpy R511 and made the journey rather more enjoyable. The air suspension allowed me to raise and lower the ride height by 25mm, which didn’t feel like a lot but it did make a difference on my way to my son’s school via the dirt roads in Carlswald. In terms of design the rear half is what gives the A7 Sportback such an iconic silhouette. And the diamond quilted, body-hugging sport seats gave me a sense of comfort I wasn’t expecting.

Sumptuous interiors

High quality aluminium, glass, leather and suede abound. Some sprinkling of plastics here and there but doesn’t distract from the luxurious cabin. It might not seem important to some but to me the tactile feel of car window buttons is important. And especially if the car costs north of R1 million, cheap plastic ones are a definite NO. But to my absolute joy the A7 comes with beautiful brushed aluminium ones. coupled with lots of other aluminium panels on the car.  The diamond stitched S sport seats emblazoned with the S line logo gave it a decidedly sporty but not extreme interiors. The body-hugging sport seats with heating and cooling features for both front and rear passengers are very comfortable if not a tad hard for long distance drives. The “longest” drive I did was to the tranquil Haarties and it wasn’t bad to be quite honest. When I drove there the temperatures were quite high so the cooling feature helped a lot to make the journey extremely comfortable. I am a very tactile and a visual person, I guess it’s the designer in me. The beautiful stitched leather diamond seats, brushed and shiny aluminium, alcantara. Specially liked the convenience of the rear passengers getting their dual-zone climate control that made it easier for my kids to control their own temperatures. And they loved it. I was also impressed by the driving position, as I sat quite low in the A7 Sportback and measuring a lengthy 4.969m. Interestingly its size doesn’t overwhelm you and it was easy to see out of the well-lit and roomy interior. The panoramic sunroof added to the sumptuous feel of the interior of the A7. The Audi feels more upmarket and classier with understated luxury. Better than its competition.

Gadget galore

I am technophile and what I found in the Sportback excited me. A LOT. It is the first Audi car to feature Audi’s new MMI touchscreen system and the dual-screen setup. The bottom screen deals with climate controls, seat heating and is a sketchpad I wrote destinations into for the nav. What is most impressive is how this system recognises my scrawny handwriting and converted it into an immaculate digital font. Technological advances in cars continue to amaze me.   The top screen deals with all other functions such as audio, vehicle settings, and apps. Android Auto and Apple Carplay work seamlessly with the system. I could also control the boot spoiler from here and the optional night vision assistant. There’s a wireless charging pad in the centre console with a USB charging port, and an SD card slot. And the passengers have 2 USB ports, which made my sons charging their devices a less stressful exercise with the aforementioned dual-zone climate control an added bonus. I am a complete audiophile and one of my all-time audio-visuals is the Danish brand Bang & Olufsen. A very high-end brand. When I saw B&O embossed on the speaker aluminium panels. I smiled. And I wasn’t disappointed. The sound is absolutely Bang On. My neighbours complained as I washed the car with the sound cranked to the highest decibel but to my pleasant surprise the sound didn't distort and I loved that. Nothing annoys me as the sound that makes all the interior panels fall off. In this beautiful A7 Sportback, they didn't. Impressive. (is this the writing style? Yes, it is. It creates suspense and interest.) A memorable trip with friends to Haarties playing Amapiano Guest Mix 3 by Ace Da Q with my friends Mr Xolani Gila and Mr Lonwabo Thumela. Goodness the B&O impressed me beyond anything I had excepted. This is a car that is easy to get to terms with, simple and untiring to drive and comfortable during long drives. A thin strip of aluminium, from the right doors, front and back, with an LED that changes colour, through the dash and vents to the left side doors. Absolutely perfect. Impressive. The adaptive windshield wipers with integrated washer nozzles, leaving no unpleasant dusty and dry water droplets on your screen. This usually happens with traditional bonnet mounted nozzles as they just spray the screen with water. Therefore, leaving unsightly dots. 

Performance

The 55 TFSI, a 3.0 litre turbocharged V6 engine pushes out a valiant 250kW at 500nM of torque, driven through the all-wheel drive Quattro system. The almost 5 metre A7 Sportback’s power plant delivers more than enough power to move around the rather hefty 2 tonne cosseting cruiser. The engine provides perfect background assistance to the refined driving experience. The refined driving experience is amplified by the silky-smooth engine. It’s quiet, provides enough power and torque and, in combination with the 7-speed automatic transmission, provides near-seamless acceleration. Audi has done an impressive job in making the drivetrain and stealthier and barely making its presence felt. Quiet and soothing best describes the drivetrain of the A7. Well if you have to haul so much weight the likelihood is that the fuel consumption is a bit high though. The claimed figure is 7.1 L/100 km, but after travelling about 600km in the 55 TFSI, I averaged about 10 l/100 km. I guess because I did a lot of city driving with some traffic this affected the fuel consumption.  My best effort was 7.1 l/100 km on a in efficiency mode, which makes use of transmission decoupling so that the A7 Sportback can coast without the gearbox’s drag slowing the car down. I must admit despite being a bit Skeptical at first it was certainly an effective way of marginally reducing consumption. Despite the increased fuel tank, which has a 73-litre capacity will most likely make for a more frequent visit to the petrol station.

Verdict

The Glacier metallic white beauty I drove is certainly a looker accentuated by black accents like the exterior housings. Also came in with the black styling package that includes front radiator grille in black, styling accents on front bumper in Titanium black and last but not least side window trims in high gloss black. I feel the middle rear headrest is unnecessary. Works well as a 4-seater.

For more details on The Audi A7 visit: https://www.audi.co.za/za/web/en.html

[email protected]; twitter: @mcethe

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ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THEMBEKILE VOKWANA BY AJ MEDIATECH http://ajmediatech.co.za/ . FOR FUTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT AMANDA MOROPA ON 074 071 8013 OR  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in Tourism, Cars, Traffic