Motoring: Audi’s S7 Sportback more than just a pretty face

This is one beautiful automobile, as it should be when you push the envelope north of the $100K mark.

The 2013 Audi S7 Sportback has the four-door coupe look that debuted with the Mercedes-Benz CLS. This four-passenger hatchback

The four-door coupe is a relatively new design concept thanks to Mercedes-Benz and its CLS model, but in my opinion no one does it better than Audi with its 2013 S7 Sportback.

This is one beautiful automobile, as it should be when you push the envelope north of the $100K mark as it was with my recent tester.

Audi has been very successful with its S line of high-performance vehicles.

It’s a rather simple formula— simply replace the A designation with an S on your more powerful, sporty models. Other German automakers like Mercedes-Benz with its AMG line and BMW with its M series have followed a similar, successful path.

To get to the S7, Audi starts with its more sedate A7 sedan and its 310 hp 3.0-litre V6 engine and plops in a 4.0-litre twin turbo V8, pushing out 420 hp and 405 lb/ft of torque.

Add in a sport air suspension, Audi’s legendary Quattro all-wheel drive and a seven-speed automatic transmission with manual-shifting S tronic, and you have yourself a very potent sports sedan.

In past years, most people who have the financial wherewithal to own a car like this would have had little or no interest in fuel economy, but times are changing and so is the technology in vehicles like this.

For example, the S7 has a cylinder management system whereby four cylinders are shut down under light power loads to save fuel.

What I feel is one of the nicest features of the four-passenger S7 is its hatchback design. The hatchback, or sportback as Audi calls it, opens high and wide to reveal a fairly spacious cargo area of 399 litres with the rear seats upright.

The other thing that strikes me about the S7 is the fact that this is a high-performance sports car that you could actually live with on a daily basis.

With a weight of 2,045 kg (4,499 lb), the S7 is not a small car, but it handles like one and manoeuvres easily in tight urban parking lots, thanks in part to its speed-sensitive power steering. This gives it a very respectable turning circle of 11.9 m (39 ft) for a car that is 4,980 mm in length with a wheelbase of 2,916 mm.

But take the car out on a high-speed course, like the German Autobahn, where the car is really meant to be driven, and the S7 would really come to life. Unfortunately I didn’t have that opportunity, but I loved the car nevertheless.

The twin turbos help the 4.0-litre engine propel the S7 from 0-100 km/h in about 4.5 seconds with a top speed limited to 250 km/h, even though we’ve heard the top end is actually closer to the 300 km/h range.

The seven-speed transmission is silky smooth in automatic mode or you can shift manually if you wish with the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.

Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive means the S7 would make a fine four-season automobile, even in our inclement winter weather here in the Great White North.

The S7 comes nicely outfitted with a starting price of $89,300. Our tester had a variety of optional features, taking the as-tested price up to $106,995 plus $1,995 in freight and destination charges.

Options included a killer Bang & Olufsen advanced sound system ($6,500), a corner-view camera system ($400), Vision Package ($4,000), Drive Assistance Package, ($2,300), LED headlights ($1,700) and unique Beauford Oak beige layered inlay trim ($700).

Safety features included in the packages above include adaptive cruise control, which uses sensors to maintain a selected distance behind the vehicle in front. It also takes into consideration traffic behind and beside using Audi’s side-assist and active lane-assist systems.

The Vision Package is a night-vision system that employs a thermal imaging camera to detect people too close to the vehicle. It is tied in with a head-up display that projects information such as speed, navigation and phone information into a windshield display directly in front of the driver.

The 15-speaker, 1200-watt Bang & Olufsen setup replaces the standard Bose stereo system and includes neat little speakers that pop up out of the dash when you push the start button.

Inside the cabin, the S7 looks and feels like a premium automobile should. I loved the beige-layered inlays of trim, one of my passengers less so.

Otherwise, it was thumbs up all round.

The heavily bolstered power sport seats are covered in high-end Valcona leather and are extremely comfortable except when you have to slip up and over the high lip on the seat bottom. All the toys are here to make driving enjoyable, particularly at night with the night vision system and a cabin that lights up like the cockpit of an aircraft at night.

A week with the S7 is enough to make you realize that if money were no object, this car is a keeper.

It’s a shame that we don’t have the roads to truly enjoy the experience that the S7 provides, but just the opportunity to drive it at a fraction of its potential along the beauty of the design make it a highly desirable vehicle.

Audi S7 Sportback 2013

Body Style: four-passenger, four-door premium sport sedan.

Engine: 4.0-litre DOHC 32-valve V8 with twin turbochargers (420 hp, 405 lb/ft of torque).

Drive Method: Quattro all-wheel drive.

Cargo Capacity: 399 litres with rear seats up, 1,040 with seats folded.

Fuel Economy: 12.7L/100 km city, 8.3L/100 km highway.

Price: $89,300, as tested $106,995 plus $1,995 freight and PDI.

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