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How Innovation Lives On: The New Audi A7 Sportback

The forward-thinking car maker where “What’s next?” is business as usual

  • The tail light of the new Audi A7 Sportback is a nod to the original 1980 Quattro. All photographs courtesy of Audi

We’re living through a period in which “innovation” has become something of a buzzword. Technology is advancing at an exponential rate. Startup culture has encouraged entrepreneurs of all stripes to look at the world around them and think “that’s good, but could I do it better?”. Continuing developments in cloud computing and artificial intelligence are freeing us up from many of the tasks that used to occupy our time, leaving us to ponder that most intriguing of questions: “what’s next?”

For Audi, though, this is business as usual. Ever since the German car company launched its game-changing quattro all-wheel drive system in the 1980s, it has been dedicated to delivering breakthroughs in the world of motoring, whether that’s in the form of technical achievements, such as the all-alumunium chassis of 1994’s A8 (the first of its kind in a mass-produced vehicle), or the ongoing evolution of the brand’s Bauhaus-inspired, less-is-more visual language that has made cars like 1998’s impeccably streamlined Audi TT (now celebrating its 20th year) such instant classics of car design.

  • The new Audi A7 Sportback’s HD Matrix LED headlights have been divided into two horizontally for an extra slim profile; inside, the spacious cabin is enriched by Audi’s MMI touch response digital interface

In 2018, both strands unite in the new Audi A7 Sportback, a state-of-the-art gran tourismo-type vehicle that combines incisive design with the brand’s most recent advancements in connected motoring technology. On the outside, sporty details speak to Audi’s history of racing innovation, from the air inlets underneath the front grille to the contoured arches above the oversized wheels (a homage to the rally-conquering Ur-Quattro of the 1980s), to the HD Matrix LED headlights, which have been divided into two horizontally for an extra slim profile. Inside, a spacious environment, all clean lines and dynamic surfaces, is enriched by Audi’s MMI touch response concept – the smartphone-like digital interface that can also be found in the brand’s flagship A8 luxury saloon. Via this console, drivers can connect to a range of helpful tools, from self-learning navigation software (which can be updated free-of-charge five times over the car’s lifetime, changing at six-month intervals) and 3D maps to digital radio, Twitter, email and more. Combined with the 39 driver-assistance systems that will be available with the car, from adaptive cruise assist – which automatically adjusts speed to traffic in bottlenecks, and helps to guide the car between lane markings – to parking assist and a 360º camera, this makes the new Audi A7 a champion at both long distance and city driving.

  • The new Audi A7 Sportback features dynamic all-wheel steering – the latest evolution of the quattro all-wheel-drive system – and an updated sport differential for superb traction and stability

Of course, the new Audi A7 wouldn’t be an Audi if it couldn’t also handle the road with the utmost precision. Featuring dynamic all-wheel steering – the latest evolution of the quattro all-wheel-drive system – and an updated sport differential for superb traction and stability, the new Audi A7 can also be upgraded with a range of suspension options, including adaptive air suspension which offers an unsurpassed range of driving modes from tight and sporty to smooth and effortless. The car also now employs Audi’s MHEV mild-hybrid system, which maximises efficiency and allows drivers to coast with the engine off at speeds between 34 and 99mph. This, in short, is where “the best in class” becomes “the next big thing” – a concept, in itself, which is very much in the Audi way of thinking.