PREMIER brand Audi produces cars that are a pleasure to drive – a thoroughly rewarding experience that is sporty and involving. So what do their technical wizards in Germany think they are doing, making a car that drives itself?
My contact at the company tells me that an Audi A7 ‘piloted driving concept’ successfully completed an epic 560-mile journey from, appropriately, California’s Silicon Valley to Los Angeles.
The company says the car proved capable of providing a comfortable drive in everyday motoring situations, particularly in the kind of traffic that drivers encounter daily.Bearing in mind some of the driving behaviour we see all too often on the roads, some people might hail this latest development with a rousing cheer.
But having just lapped up slipping behind the wheel of an A7 Sportback 3.0 TDI ultra SE Executive, I wouldn’t want to hand over the wheel to anyone – or anything – else.It’s a rich blend of grand tourer elegance and executive car versatility in a ‘five-door coupe’.
The latest model has styling revisions including new LED headlights and tail lights including ‘sweeping’ indicators, improved interior decor, including aluminium and walnut inlays, and upgraded infotainment.
The ‘ultra’ bit of the car’s title signifies a ‘green’ push from Audi, the first in a new range of efficiency-focused six-cylinder models. The heavily modified single-turbo 3.0-litre V6 is said to be capable of returning 60.1mpg, with CO2 emissions of 122 g/km. But those figures don’t mean a sacrifice in pace as the TDI ultra has a 0-62mph time of 7.3 seconds on the way to a top speed of 149mph.
Specification is truly comprehensive and here’s a mere taste: LED headlights, 19in alloy wheels , four-zone automatic air conditioning, heated Milano leather-upholstered seats with electric adjustment, MMI navigation, Audi Music Interface, front and rear acoustic parking
sensors and a powered tailgate for the 535-litre luggage area (1,390 litres with the rear seat down).
Beyond the interior’s tech toys, the A7 has some serious engineering from a primarily aluminium body to a ‘drive select’ dynamic handling system, which allows the driver to tune the set-up of the steering and suspension to his liking, and ‘pre-sense’ systems which go into action if sensors say a collision is unavoidable and apply the brakes automatically. The driving experience is peerless. I’ve sampled the supercar-style performance of the fire-breathing RS 7 Sportback, but found the A7 more to my taste. A perfect performer on the motorway gallop, this big car feels nimble and responsive on winding country roads.
Cost (inc options): £ 50,500.00
For more info visit www.audi.co.uk