A NEXT-GENERATION Audi A7 Sportback has been snapped in saucy S7 guise doing the rounds of Germany’s famous Nurburgring race circuit, about a year before it is revealed.
Brandishing Audi’s new design direction under styling boss Marc Lichte and first seen in the 2014 Prologue Concept Car, the A7 Sportback looks sleeker and sharper than the existing six-year-old model, sitting on a longer wheelbase, wider tracks, with less rear overhang, and sporting more slender LED lighting.
Also tipped to grow inside, it will be part of a barrage of big, new Audis slated for launch over the next year or so, including the fifth-gen A8 limousine coming soon, as well as the Mk8 A6 four-door sedan and wagon on which the second A7 Sportback will basically be based.
All will be built on the MLB-Evo modular longitudinal platform first seen under the 2015 Q7 SUV. Besides being lighter and stronger than before, this means the 2018 Audi A7 Sportback will be ready for plug-and-play electrification components under the e-tron sub-brand, underlining the changing nature of the newcomer’s role in the marketplace.
Along with the Mercedes-Benz CLS and BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe, this Audi will also contend with the Tesla Model S.
On the more conventional powertrain front, expect to see the usual array of turbocharged petrol and diesel engines, ranging from sub 3.0-litre V6s in various states of tune, to the 4.0-litre V8 thought to be powering the S7 Sportback photographed here.
Audi’s new Ultra quattro on-demand all-wheel-drive system first seen in the latest Audi A4 Allroad launched in Australia this month may also migrate up to the A7 range, enhancing traction as well as efficiency compared to the old permanent drive system, while air suspension, the company’s lauded Virtual Cockpit digital instrumentation, LED Matrix headlights, and so-called “level three’ autonomous driving tech that can accelerate, steer, brake, and fully stop a vehicle to help avoid a crash are also on the cards.
The current A7 Sportback kicks off from about $115,000 for the 3.0 TDI quattro S Line, extending to almost $185K for the S7 4.0 TFSI quattro, so don’t be surprised if the new version sticks to similar prices when it arrives by the first half of 2018.
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