Presaging the world’s inexorable march toward its autonomously driven, Internet of Things future, redesigned 2019 Audi A7 Sportback has debuted in advance of its arrival in Europe. Characterized by Audi as a coupe, a sedan and a station wagon all wrapped up into one car, new Audi A7 Sportback is just as sophisticated as also-redesigned A8 flagship, each of which reflect a design ethos introduced by the company’s Prologue Concept vehicle. For A7 Sportback, that translates to a long hood, a stretched wheelbase, short overhangs and a tapered tail with an integrated rear lip spoiler that rises at higher speeds. In keeping with new signature lighting themes for Audi’s top models, a light strip connects rear lighting elements. Low and sleek, with a height measuring just 4,7 feet off of the ground, new A7 Sportback looks sensational. Constructed of steel and aluminum and offered in 15 different paint colors, Audi makes minimal use of chrome in its detailing. Naturally, an S-line exterior design treatment sharpens lower body styling and installs gloss black trim for a sportier and stealthier appearance.

Futuristically lounging in luxury

Calling cabin a “futuristic lounge” Audi supplies A7 Sportback’s interior in standard, S-line and Design specification. Greater occupant space, improved cabin isolation and reduced wind noise and a larger panoramic glass roof are claimed to make the new A7 Sportback look and feel airy and spacious. New seat designs debut, available with premium Valcona leather upholstery. Up front, they are available with multi-adjustable contour adjustment, heating, ventilation and massage. In back, individual rear bucket seats are standard, with a 2+1 bench seat available as an option. Audi tells rear passengers benefit from added knee and headroom compared to outgoing A7. Options include a Contour Ambient Lighting Package and an Air Quality Package, latter installing an upgraded interior air filter, an air ionizer and a fragrancing system. Around back, A7 Sportback’s cargo area is configured for greater utility. A wider opening provides access to a bigger 18,9 cu-ft trunk that now accommodates 2 golf bags arranged horizontally and an available hands-free liftgate responds to the motion of a foot. Fold rear seat down and cargo area expands to 49,1 cu-ft.

Touchscreens, Car-to-X communication, and self-parking via smartphone

Endowed with Audi’s new MMI Touch Response controls and displays, A7 Sportback dispatches long-standing center console rotary control knobs and primary functions buttons for infotainment system, swapping them out for dual touchscreen displays with what company claims are logical, flat menu structures. Audi tells this approach is as intuitive to use as a smartphone, supplying haptic and acoustic feedback to confirm screen selections and it offers owners the ability to configure favorites for quick and easy access. System launches when driver opens the door and is ready for use by time he or she is belted in, presenting information in a minimalist manner. Audi tells the system stores up to 7 different driver profiles with up to 400 personalized vehicle settings. Upgrades include MMI Navigation and MMI Navigation Plus. With latter, a larger 10,1 inch display features black panel optics and a dark graphite gray aluminum surround to make it less visually intrusive. This primary infotainment screen sits above an 8,6 inch lower screen providing access to climate controls and comfort-related functions, while also facilitating text input to system. Audi Virtual Cockpit instrumentation is rendered upon a 12,3 inch display and is included with MMI Navigation Plus system. Additional options include a heads-up display, voice control with natural speech recognition, expanded Audi Connect services with Car-to-X communication capability and 4 audio systems including top Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System. Improved driver assistance technology abounds, Audi claiming there are up to 39 different systems working to help driver to drive and to avoid collisions. In European specification, they are bundled into 3 different option packages. Undefined, City Assist Package likely includes features like pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking and other technologies designed to make negotiating traffic safer and easier. Tour Assist Package likely includes features designed to make high speed highway travel safer and easier. Audi confirms that this upgrade includes an efficiency assistant to help improve fuel economy and adaptive driving assistance to keep car centered in a lane. The AI Parking Assist Package equips new A7 Sportback with Remote Parking Pilot and Remote Garage Pilot technologies, operated from outside of the vehicle using a MyAudi smartphone app.

Electrification comes standard

Every new A7 Sportback will have a standard electrified drivetrain, a “mild hybrid” setup. Initially, this approach is applied to a turbocharged 3,0 liter V6 with 340 hp and approximately 369 lb-ft of torque. A lithium-ion battery recharged by a regenerative braking system makes it possible for new A7 to coast at speeds between 34 mph and 100 mph with engine shut off, instantly restarting it when necessary. Additionally, it facilitates earlier engagement of standard automatic start/stop system, which now activates as car decelerates below 14 mph. The start/stop system is tied in with car’s front camera and predictively restarts engine when car ahead moves forward. A 7 speed S tronic transmission delivers power to a standard Quattro Ultra all wheel drive system. Quattro Ultra operates in front-drive mode until rear wheels are needed for traction or sporting performance. An optional Sport Differential actively distributes torque between rear wheels and acceleration to 60 takes about 5,2 seconds. Standard variable progressive steering supplies what Audi calls “intensive road feedback.” Optional Dynamic All-Wheel Steering that can turn rear wheels up to 5 degrees provides “direct, sporty steering response with unshakable stability,” according to automaker. Steel spring suspension in comfort or sport tune is standard and buyers can upgrade to adaptive damping or a self-leveling adaptive air suspension. An Electronic Chassis Program ties adaptive or air suspension, Dynamic All-Wheel Steering and Sport Differential together so that they work in concert based on driver’s Drive Mode Select choice. Everything rides on aluminum wheels sized up to 21 inches in diameter and wrapped in tires measuring as large as 255/35. Brake discs measuring up 15,7 inches across are tucked behind them.

Is different going to make the A7 Sportback different enough?

While information Audi has thus far divulged is based on the European-spec A7 Sportback, few changes are expected when car arrives in United States for the 2019 model year. In any case, first impressions indicate that Audi has successfully improved upon one of most seductive vehicles in segment and if recent efforts ranging from A4 to Q7 are any indication, new A7 Sportback will drive brilliantly. The question is whether Audi loyalists and owners of competing marques will find it compelling enough. After all, choosing a car in this price class is as much about fashion and making a statement as anything else. Like other recent redesigns from Audi, this new A7 looks an awful lot like old A7, sharpened up for improved aerodynamics.

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