Jaco Van Der Merwe
Having been privileged enough to wander around Monaco’s scenic Port Hercules, admiring the guilty maritime pleasures of the super rich, I’ve resounded to the fact that those memories in my dusty photo albums are the closest I’ll ever come to owning a real yacht.
Almost two decades later however, my fixation with shiny white elongated vessels flared up when I read a line in the press release announcing the arrival of the new Audi A7 Sportback. ”As with the previous model, the rear end is tapered like that of a yacht.”
I wasn’t prepared to be overly mesmerised by a carmaker’s spin doctors waxing lyrical as they do for a living, but also, I wasn’t prepared to let little truths spoil the idea of resurrecting a long-forgotten dream either. So, a yacht hey? Only a gazillion times more affordable and without the little nagging requirement of having the Mediterranean Sea on your doorstep. The thought was truly enticing.
I finally laid my eyes on the shiny test unit our friends over at Audi delivered in our basement parking lot back in March, it was love at first sight. And I wouldn’t have pictured myself skippering a yacht on wheels for seven days in any other colour than the superb Glacier White our test unit was clad in.But before we take a closer look at the specifications, a quick check of exactly where the A7 Sportback fits into the numerical zoo.
With the A6 being Audi’s medium sedan offering that slots between the compact A4 sedan and full-size A8 sedan, the A7 is the four-door coupe version of the A6. In other words, sportier in appearance and ultimately performance than the more traditionally styled and more sedated A6. Currently the new A7 is only available in 55 TFSI quattro guise at R1 250 000, with the monstrous 4.0-lite V8 RS7 making its way to South Africa in due course.
In their further description of the A7’s exterior, the Audi wordsmiths say that it’s ”an athletic sculpture with a long engine hood, long wheelbase and short overhangs”. Seeing that they had me a ”yacht”, you’d have to judge by the pictures whether their description hits the spot.
What stood out were the dynamic roofline that drops sharply at the back, the narrow design HD Matrix LED headlights, the flat light strip at the back which is a design feature of Audi’s top models and the optional 21-inch Sport alloy cast wheels. A neat little party trick at the back is a spoiler that is integrated into the luggage compartment lid which automatically extends at 120 km/h. And like any respectable form of watercraft in my personal opinion should be, the A7’s exterior is largely devoid of chrome.
In the cabin, comfort, space and technology meet underneath a large panoramic sunroof to create a luxurious digital lounge very much akin to that of the Q8 that debuted last year. The sublime atmosphere is further enhanced by the standard contour ambient lighting package that traces the contours and subtly highlights space in 30 different colours.
The centre console consists of two touchscreens. One is the 10.1-inch upper display operating the infotainment system and the other the lower 8.6-inch lower display which controls the climate control and can be operated easily with your hand resting on the gearlever. A four-zone air-conditioning system comes as standard. Our test unit was further refined through the optional upper and lower interior elements in leather at R17 000, plus S sports seats (R28 350) clad in Valcona leather (R6 950).
All-round space and legroom in the rear is plentiful, while the boot offers 535-litres of space which has been optimised to fit two golf bags horizontally. Safety includes the usually packed bag of goodies you’d come to expect in this price range, while our tester was further kitted with the superb Night Vision Assistant (R37 800).
The A7 Sportback’s power comes from a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 engine which sends 250kW/500Nm to all four wheels via seven-speed S tronic transmission. A 48V mild-hybrid system provides a recuperation performance of up to 12 kW when braking. Audi claims the A7 can reach 100 km/h from a standstill in 5.3 sec with a top whack limited to 250 km/h and we have no reason to doubt these figures.
However, we struggled to achieved the claimed fuel consumption of 7.1l/100 km as we averaged 13.5l/100 km over the almost 600 km distance travelled during the week. But even that number is quite acceptable, seeing that it is an almost two-tonne car itching to stretch its legs on the open road.
Speaking of open road, guiding the A7 over long stretches of road not in great shape was an absolute pleasure. A new electronic chassis program and adaptive air suspension (R34 700) and dynamic all-wheel steering (R33 050) fitted extra to our test unit no doubt aided in providing a comfortable ride with superb handling.
It really was a case of pointing the nose in the right direction and dropping the sail while comfortably coasting over choppy waters while enjoying the refinement of your immediate surroundings with a sense of fulfilment. And isn’t that exactly what a yacht is all about?
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