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Driven: Audi expects more petrol A7 Sportback sales

Audi forecasts decline in diesel demand with second-generation A7 Sportback

9 Nov 2018

AUDI Australia expects its second-generation A7 Sportback range to follow the market trend away from diesel engines, with two new petrol offerings to command at least 75 per cent of the five-door large liftback’s volume.
The A7 Sportback will launch on November 23 with the petrol 55 TFSI, while the diesel 50 TDI and petrol 45 TFSI will join the range in the middle of next year.
The 55 TFSI and 50 TDI are priced identically, from $131,900 before on-road costs, while the 45 TFSI has just had its $113,900 cost confirmed.
Speaking to GoAuto at the A7 Sportback media launch in Brisbane, Audi Australia product planning and pricing director Shawn Ticehurst indicated that the 55 TFSI is expected to be the best-selling variant, with a “close to 50 per cent share” of the model’s overall sales.
“From what we’re hearing from existing owners, that six-cylinder powerplant is so important to them,” he said.
“What will be interesting is the transition (from) petrol to diesel, because we didn’t have a petrol six-cylinder in the current-generation A7.
“To now have that in the car, and that being our focus, is a fairly big change, but it’s the right one to do.
“(However), it’s good that we can still offer a diesel six-cylinder, (which is) coming to market with good power, good presence, same equipment level, same price as the petrol.
“For existing owners who’ve got an A7, or an A6, and love the six-cylinder diesel experience, we can still fulfil that.”
Following the introduction of its mid-life facelift in March 2015, the first-generation A7 Sportback line-up featured a pair of diesels, plus the petrol S7 and RS7 performance variants that are yet to be confirmed for a return, although Audi Australia is understandably keen.
When asked if diesel will be less of a factor in the new model, given that year-to-date sales of such engines are down 31.3 per cent in the private passenger-car segment, Mr Ticehurst agreed that this generational change was on the cards.
“We would certainly see petrol being the predominant force in this car, without a doubt,” he said. “We see (diesel) could be up to 25 per cent, but let’s see.
“There are quite some interesting changes happening in the market right now, especially around diesel and petrol, and it’s swinging very quickly.”
Mr Ticehurst reiterated that Audi Australia was looking to grow its share in the $70,000-plus large-car segment, with the A7 Sportback and A6 sedan and wagon – due for replacement in the first quarter of next year – commanding an 8.8 per cent slice to the end of September.
He added that there has been “a good level of interest” in the A7 Sportback, with pre-orders predominantly coming from existing Audi owners, the majority of whom own the previous-generation model.
As reported, the 55 TFSI and 50 TDI feature 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 engines, with the former developing 250kW from 5000 to 6000rpm and 500Nm from 1370 to 4500rpm, while the latter produces 210kW from 3500 to 4000rpm and 620Nm from 2250 to 3000rpm.
Sprinting from standstill to 100km/h in 5.3 seconds, the 55 TFSI is 0.4s quicker than the 50 TDI. However, the former’s fuel consumption on the combined cycle test (6.0 litres per 100 kilometres) and carbon dioxide emissions (156 grams per kilometre) best the latter’s marks by 1.1L/100km and 7g/km respectively.
Conversely, the 45 TFSI is motivated by a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder unit that punches out 180kW from 5000 to 6000rpm and 370Nm from 1600 to 4500rpm. It hits triple digits in 6.8s, drinks 7.1L/100km and emits 163g/km.
The 50 TDI is matched to an eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission, while the 55 TFSI and 45 TFSI are mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch unit.
Audi’s traditional quattro all-wheel-drive set-up with a centre differential is employed by the 50 TDI, while the 55 TFSI and 45 TFSI instead use its quattro ultra system to optimise fuel efficiency by exclusively sending drive to the front axle until extra grip is required.
A mild-hybrid set-up is found in all three variants, which consists of a belt alternator starter (BAS) connected to the crankshaft, and a 10Ah lithium-ion battery pack located under the boot floor.
The net result is fuel savings of up to 0.7 litres per 100 kilometres, thanks to the system's ability to coast with the engine off for up to 40 seconds between 55 and 160km/h.
The 50 TDI and 55 TFSI have a 48V set-up that engages idle-stop from 22km/h, while the 45 TFSI makes do with a 12V system that misses out on the extra functionality.
Audi Australia says that up to $10,000 of additional value has been added to the A7 Sportback, with standard equipment in the 45 TFSI including 20-inch alloy wheels, LED bulbs for the headlights and full-width tail-light with dynamic indicators, power-folding side mirrors with heating, and a hands-free power-operated tailgate, plus progressive steering and adaptive suspension.
Internally, Audi’s MMI infotainment system powers a pair of touchscreens that measure 10.1 and 8.6 inches and offer haptic and acoustic feedback. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, satellite navigation and voice control also form part of this setup.
Furthermore, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a windshield-projected head-up display, wireless smartphone charging, three-zone climate control, power-operated front sports seats with heating, a leather-trimmed sports steering wheel with paddle-shifters, lumbar support and driver memory; Valcona leather upholstery, keyless entry and start, and LED ambient lighting feature inside.
Advanced driver-assist systems extend to autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keep and steering assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, surround-view cameras, high-beam assist and exit warning, plus collision avoidance, intersection, turn and efficiency assist.
The 50 TDI and 55 TFSI further add HD Matrix LED headlights, a power-operated steering column, a 16-speaker Bang & Olfusen 3D sound system, and the S line interior and exterior packages.
The optional Premium Plus package adds 21-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, a panoramic sunroof, extended leather upholstery, 30 colours and six profiles to the LED ambient lighting, and four-zone climate control to the 45 TFSI for $6500, while it costs $8000 for the 50 TDI and 55 TFSI but further adds adaptive air suspension.
Individual options include metallic and pearl-effect paintwork ($2200), laser light ($2500), the Dynamic Steering ($4200) and black exterior styling ($1400) packages, and a 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen Advanced 3D sound system ($11,700).
Sales of the A7 Sportback have improved in its runout year, with 89 examples sold in the year to date – a 36.9 per cent increase over the 65 deliveries made during the same period in 2017.
As a result, the A7 Sportback is currently placed seventh in its class, trailing the Mercedes-Benz E-Class (1197 units), BMW 5 Series (600), Audi A6 (206), Jaguar XF (172), Maserati Ghibli (158) and Volvo S90 (90).

2018 Audi A7 Sportback pricing*

45 TFSI $113,900
55 TFSI $131,900
50 TDI $131,900

*Excludes on-road costs


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