Final Report - 8th January 2021
As the Audi A7 Sportback PHEV leaves the CCT fleet, the experience of living day-to-day with a plug-in hybrid has been all-in-all a convincingly positive one.
The Audi’s PHEV system works seamlessly and is well-mated to the S Tronic auto box making for an ideal first experience of plug-in technology. There’s also no messing around with brake regeneration levels – it’s a simple get-in-and-go affair – although you still have choice over driving mode.
I was surprised to find that I’ve completed 53% of my 6500+ miles in electric mode with driveability, performance and MPG all surpassing expectation.
With a £70k+ P11D, this car won’t be on every choice list, but if you’re lucky enough to have the A7 as an option, its unlikely to disappoint. Stylish on the outside, Audi’s premium materials on the inside, the virtual cockpit (which is a peach of a system by the way) and two-further screens for access to infotainment and climate control providing a plethora of information, plus safety tech that’s plentiful for both occupant and pedestrian protection alike, the A7 has a lot in its favour. Add in a BiK of 12% for 2020/21 and what’s not to like.
It’s an impressive car – and I’ve loved it!
Update - 24th December 2020
Most of my time in the Audi A7 has been spent with just me in the car. But what’s it like on family outings, or carrying your work colleagues/mates?
Whilst car sharing with work colleagues/mates has been on the backburner thanks to social distancing requirements etc, I have managed a few trips out with the family (when rules allowed).
Now the A7 may well be a Sportback coupe with a seriously sloping roofline, but there is space a plenty in the rear. Whilst I’m no six-footer, head and leg room can accommodate all but the tallest of passengers.
Update - 4th December 2020
As we move towards winter and the days are shortening, I find myself on the road during early mornings whilst it’s still dark, and I have to say this is where the Audi A7’s HD Matrix LED headlights come into their own.
First introduced by Audi back in 2013 on the luxury A8, since then not only has the technology been incorporated across the range, but its also developed at pace.
Providing a real ‘day-time’ lighting experience, the ‘matrix’ element essentially sees the forward facing camera that which is located in the cars windscreen, picking up oncoming traffic – this is where the A7’s electronics work their magic to ensure that part of the light pattern is dynamically blanked out – saving oncoming drivers from being dazzled, whilst maintaining a high beam around the oncoming vehicle for maximum vision. The system also works in built-up urban areas, automatically reducing the beam from high to low.
There is a touch of theatre to these lights too, with the beam opening from the centre of the field of vision and moving to the edges – it’s like a stage curtain being drawn open, and the effect takes place in reverse when moving from high to low beam. It’s a gimmicky effect, but I like it!
Update - 19th November 2020
In an ever more connected world, it’s good to know the Audi A7 comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but the real boon is the in-car wifi.
I’ve touched on the My Audi app before to send navigation addresses to the car. But you can also set-up the in-car wifi via the app. It’s is a resounding plus, making connecting your mobile device(s) inside the car far easier, quicker and tidier without cables!
Lift the cover of the central armrest and you can even charge your mobile phone wirelessly – with plenty of room for even the largest of today’s mobiles.
Update - 9th November 2020
The parking brake fault message managed to clear itself and, touch wood, hasn’t made a return since, saving me a journey to the dealers. However, I’ll keep an eye on this and if the message re-occurs I’ll book the A7 for a once-over.
There are plenty of differing menus and information screens which can be viewed on the central screen on the Audi A7, and to be fair, it will take you a good few hours of playing around to find them all! Buried within the My Car menu are series of screens showing everything from real-time driving stats detailing your current trip combustion engine / EV useage, to a nice graphic showing the flow of charge / combustion engine power use layered over an image of your A7, through to my favourite screen showing your long-term stats.
Whilst I religiously charge the A7 every day (as should be the case with a hybrid or EV), I was pleasantly surprised to note that over 4,911 miles of motoring, 52% of my total mileage has been spent using the electric motor. That’s substantially more than I thought it was going to be. Now to work out the saving over petrol!
Update - 21st October 2020
In my last report, I noted that you can use the myAudi mobile app for choosing and then sending a destination to the A7’s sat-nav.
But, the myAudi app does far more. From displaying the vehicle status, including charge/fuel tank levels and a detailed breakdown on the car status, the app also allows you to find a charging terminal, join the e-tron charging service, lock/unlock your car, set the air conditioning, and provide theft and location alerts – if your unlucky enough to have your A7 stolen.
Driving data and cost and mileage trackers are also available, as is a handy warnings section; which is handy as, the app is unfortunately currently showing a parking brake fault – looks like I’ll be contacting my local Audi dealer to book in. Thankfully, the app has a section for finding a local Audi service partner!
Update - 15th October 2020
Short journeys are where the Audi A7, like all PHEVs, earns its keep by making the most of its 14kWh battery power.
But, what happens when the journey you want to take isn’t that short – how does a 2.0-litre petrol engine pushing out more than 250hp fare in the fuel stakes?
A run up to Yorkshire and back to drop my eldest daughter off at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate as she starts her career as a junior soldier in the British Army was the perfect opportunity to see how Audi’s gran coupe performed.
Drive profile set to Auto, sat-nav programmed and climate control set, we made our way from not-so-sunny Essex. Pouring with rain for almost the entire journey both to and from Harrogate via an overnight stop in Bradford, the A7 simply excelled with Audi’s legendary quattro four-weel drive system keeping us firmly planted, despite the wet weather and drenched motorways.
The A7 has an incredibly well-appointed and comfortable cabin whether you’re the driver or a chauffeured passenger and we arrived out our destination stress-free and relaxed. The Audi simply ate the 486-mile round trip at a pretty impressive average of 50.2 mpg.
Update - 25th September 2020
There’s plenty of upsides to PHEVs, but one of the consequences of vehicles with a hybrid powertrain is needing somewhere to house the batteries.
This often results in them being stored under the boot floor, leading to reduced storage. With Audi’s A7 plug-in, storing that 14.1kWh battery reduces available boot space to 380 litres, or 1235 litres with folded rear seats, a reduction of 155 compared to the 535 and 1390 litres respectivelty of the non-PHEV variants.
However, the A7 plug-in’s boot is still big enough to take a set of gold clubs and a couple of large suitcases!
Update - 10th September 2020
Driving a hybrid is a far easier experience than I first imagined in that, with the Audi A7, there is no requirement to select different levels of energy recuperation under braking etc. It’s a simple get-in-and-go affair.
That said, for those that like to have some input, there are three key modes of operation to choose from. Hybrid mode is set automatically, and will aim to provide optimum efficiency by automatically selecting either electric, petrol or a combination of both; EV mode utilises battery power only – unless you kick-down hard on the accelerator or are driving over 88mph (which you obviously won’t be doing on UK roads!), in which case the 2.0 TFSI will engage, and last but not least, Battery Hold mode. This final option keeps the battery charge at its current level, allowing you to save your battery for town/city environments later in the journey to keep emissions down rather than on faster A-roads or motorways.
Hybrid mode is probably all you need, for most of my journeys at least, it takes the hassle out of having to select the right driving mode. The petrol engine kicks in when required, but the transition from EV to internal combustion power is almost imperceptible – apart from the not unpleasant rasp of the exhaust and the icon on the dash to show your using the ICE.
Some may prefer to play with different levels of braking and recuperation, but it’s an easier transition from one technology to another if there’s nothing new about the driving experience.
Update - 24th August 2020
They say that you can’t change a first impression, but there’s no need for Audi to worry on that account.
This A7 executive coupe hits the right notes from the off with a bold, muscular front end and capacious grille, flowing through a sleek and swooping roofline and running down to flared shoulders. It’s a beast.
And that positive first impression doesn’t change on the inside either with the typical quality finish to the cabin that Audi has become renowned for; tactile surfaces and clean lines abound with a quality that permeates the cabin.
And that’s without even getting to the very comfy looking leather and alcantara seats bearing Audi’s S-line logo!
Update - 13 August 2020
My new long-term test vehicle brings something different to the table. After myriad crossover/SUVs, I’ll be behind the wheel of an executive coupe for the next six months in the guise of Audi’s stylish A7 Sportback plug-in hybrid.
If you’re lucky enough to have this on your company car choice list, chances are you’re at senior exec level. That’s because this PHEV carries a price tag of £68,425 before any extras. Our test car also comes in Firmament Blue metallic (£685), Comfort & Sound pack (£1,895) and with delivery, half a tank of fuel, plates, Road Fund Licence and first registration fee bringing the total to £71,720.
But, for this money you get Audi’s 4-cylinder 2.0 TFSI petrol engine mated to a 14.1kWh Lithium-ion battery to produce a combined 367hp resulting in a 0-62 dash of 5.7 seconds and a limited top speed of 155 mph. But only 46g/km of emissions and an electric-only official range of up to 24 miles.
This car also comes packed with kit which we’ll explore in future reports. Two features I’m particularly interested in are the Predictive Efficiency Assist and the Predicted Operating Strategy. These two technologies are designed to ensure the correct driving mode for every situation (more details to follow).
Watch this space!