Price: from £39,995 (£57,970 as tested)
Engine capacity: 2995cc (V6)
Power output (PS @ rpm): 296bhp @5250-6500rpm
Top speed (mph): 155 (limited) 0-60 mph (seconds): 5.6
Fuel economy (mpg): 34.4 CO2 emissions (g/km): 190
Even before its three-litre V6 lost power, I knew my loan Audi A7 was in trouble. The ominous, orange glow of the engine-warning light had clicked on moments before, and soon enough my enjoyable Sunday drive came to a halt as I found myself stranded on the edge of a pungent, south Norfolk pig farm.
Hardly Vorsprung durch Technik in action, but a quick call and with Prussian-like efficiency Dave from Audi Assistance was dispatched post-haste.
Laptop in hand, he quickly ran the motoring equivalent of an anti-virus scan, identified the software gremlin responsible and had me on my way within the hour. An example of excellent breakdown service in action yes, but hardly inspiring for a car with less than 3,000 miles on the clock. That said, it’s only fair to point out – as Dave reassured me – that Audi consistently scores highly in customer satisfaction and reliability surveys.
Little comfort perhaps if you’d spent more than £40,000 on one, but over the next week and 500 odd miles of testing, I put aside my annoyance and came to realise that the A7 was probably one of the best cars I’d driven all year.
Designed to take on the big boys of the sporty coupe market (the Mercedes CLS and BMW 5 Series GT) it succeeds in combining executive luxury and all the in-car technology you’d expect (it even has wi-fi) with blisteringly fast performance, seemingly never-ending grip and near track day-quality cornering.
And not that it isn’t practical either. Its diesel variant offers a good mix of power and economy for long-distance cruising, and for a car that has supposedly prioritised style (a swooping rear screen and notched tail) in favour of space, it still has an large boot and room to carry four proper-sized adults in a beautifully constructed cabin.
As you’d expect, the petrol-engined TSFI Quattro delivers its powerful performance at the expense of fuel economy, and the added extra quickly sends the – already high – base price soaring, but it’s a testament to the A7’s driveability and comfort that, despite a bad start, I didn’t want to see it go at the end of the week. And really, Audis don’t break down often. Do they?