How do you say hello to one of the most technologically advanced cars on sale today? Well, to welcome Audi’s new A7 to the Auto Express fleet and to fully understand all of the advanced kit on board, I went to my local Audi dealer to pick up ‘my’ new car and get a thorough briefing on how it all works.
That local garage is Watford Audi, where I was greeted on arrival by sales executive Gareth King. Although Audi hasn’t always performed that well in our Driver Power dealer survey (the German firm’s franchises finished 15th out of 26 brands in our most recent rundown), Gareth operated with all of the slick professionalism you’d expect from an Audi sales person – even when I had a little tech hiccup.
We went through the example digital specification process, adding the options and extras that would bring our car’s £58,155 list price up to the £77,045 total as tested. All fine there. However, when setting up the myAudi smartphone app that grants access to your car and some of its functions via your mobile, there was a slight snag with my device.
After some head-scratching, I was sent away with a code that – once my phone had been refreshed – thankfully worked. The Audi MMI Connect system is yet another app you can use, allowing you to send sat-nav destinations to your car remotely, check remaining range and even lock or unlock the vehicle. It’s all really clever stuff.
There was more to take in following a full rundown of the A7’s features in the handover bay, though. The 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit is familiar from other models, but like the new A8 flagship limousine, it’s a higher resolution here and works beautifully. It’s one of the biggest advances in infotainment we’ve seen and works well with the other twin-screen set-up.
Both are HD touchscreens and get haptic feedback. The first is 10.1 inches and controls the multimedia; it’s easy to use and conveniently placed. The second is 8.6 inches and features the climate controls. It isn’t as well located, forcing you to drop your eyeline from the road to operate it, but I’m finding that with familiarity it’s becoming more intuitive. The fingerprints and glare the glossy displays attract aren’t improving, though.
Other options include an upgraded Bang & Olufsen stereo as part of the £1,895 Comfort and Sound Pack that produces a great, powerful sound, helped by the car’s refinement (optional acoustic glazing improves this, too).
The 282bhp 3.0-litre V6 50 TDI unit is smooth and strong, and uses 48-volt mild-hybrid technology in a bid to boost efficiency as well. After a few long runs I’m achieving a strong 40.2mpg so far.
Less convincing than the engine is the eight-speed box. It’s a match for the motor for refinement, thanks to smooth shifts, but on the motorway it’s either sluggish to kick down or with a prod of the throttle drops two or three gears and then takes off. I hope it’ll learn my driving style over time, or vice-versa, and things will start to improve.
I’m still in the throws of acquainting myself with the Audi, though, so many of its advanced features are novel and many are already proving to melt into the background when you don’t need them, delivering exactly what you want when you want it. Take the £1,900 dynamic all-wheel steering. That’s a lot of money, but given the A7 is nearly five metres long, it makes manoeuvring in tight spaces no harder than in a family hatch, plus it boosts agility at low speed.
I’ve got plenty of long trips planned over the summer, so I expect the car’s refinement and comfort to come to the fore. For now, I’m dazzled by the tech, backed up with an easy-to-use interface.
*Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old living in Banbury, Oxfordshire, with three penalty points.