Tested: Audi A7 Sportback 50 TDI, The Planet’s Friend

Increasingly business travel is coming under the spotlight in terms of its carbon footprint.

More companies are having to question their own sustainability models when they have become used to flying executives to business meetings, especially on short-hops that could be achieved in more climate-friendly ways. Here is where a full-blown high-speed mile muncher like the Audi A7 Sportback 50 TDI really does earn its stripes.

Because, fully loaded with four people and a cavernous trunk (in spite of the radically sloping coupé-styled rear hatch) to carry their luggage and presentation pop-ups, this motor makes both a great business cost case and an environmentally friendly argument against four plane tickets on a two-hour flight. Being diesel, too, it remains the most climate-cuddly engine option for most European countries when you consider the energy production mix used to power electrified powertrains.

So, I tested the car on what could have been a typical business trip from London to Trier in Germany. True, the journey using the Eurotunnel and motorways from Calais, through Luxembourg (to top up diesel fuel at just €1.08 a liter), took a total of seven hours. However, when you add up the ‘wasted’ time of using public transport to get to the airport two hours early, the near certainty that flights leave late thanks to Heathrow’s crowded runways and then the rigmarole of picking up even a pre-ordered hire car at Luxembourg for another hour’s drive to destination, there’s not a terrific amount of difference.

The fliers also lack the freedom and flexibility that drivers can enjoy particularly behind the wheel of a sophisticated operator like this A7. The motor is a real peach offering smooth effortless yet instantaneous power whenever required, the diesel aided and abetted by a mild hybrid 48-volt system. This lets the 3.0-liter diesel V6 motor to shut down when coasting between 34mph and 99mph and then uses a belt alternator starter to reignite the cylinders at a stab of the throttle.

The start/stop function works well in town and a camera is used to recognize when the car in front moves off. That said, this is not best suited urban life with fuel consumption dipping down into the mid-20s. Yet, set on its excellent adaptive cruise control at high speed, the A7 is really in its element returning a consistent 40mpg despite being fully loaded on its continental dash to the vineyards of the Mosel.

The consumption is especially impressive considering the motor’s healthy 282bhp delivered between a relaxed 3,500-4,000rpm backed up by 457ft-lbs of torque delivered from 2,250rpm-3,000rpm. The pickup is so fast and accessible, even a cautious driver will see the occasional 0-62 sprint in just 5.7 seconds even if they never trouble the electronically restricted 155mph on the German autobahns.

There is a raft of convenience and ADAS technology on the car including jam assist and lane assist that would let you drive up to 37mph handsfree if the laws didn’t prevent this, the aforementioned adaptive cruise control that is one of the sharpest and most responsive I’ve tested so far and a dual screen MMI infotainment system with all the Bluetooth and wifi hook-up a set off working business people could want. Just another mention for that humungous trunk, I managed to lay down three full size bicycles, all with wheels in place, and still the electronically operated hatchback closed without interruption.

Probably the only feature I didn’t like was the predictive vibrating throttle pedal, dubbed haptic feedback. This combines the car’s ‘knowledge’ of what speed limits are coming up coupled with its road sign recognition, to alert the driver that the speed should be knocked off. This may be useful where you are completely clueless as to where you are, particularly in poor visibility, but, otherwise, damned annoying and so has to be shut off manually every time you use the car.

Picky, I know, but that is about the only criticism of what is a truly superb motor that proudly flies the diesel banner which, I predict, will see something of a fightback when the powers-that-be recognize whole-life carbon footprint as being the best gauge we have of what is kinder to our planet.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_


2 comments

  1. Avatar Joost 11th September 2019 @ 8:16 am

    I really thought that your title was ironic. Since when is a V6 Diesel the environmentally friendly option? Your journey London – Trier trip is also 7 hours by train, where the ‘working business man’ can actually do some work. And the idea that BEV cars are less environmentally friendly than ICE is of course total nonsense.

  2. TU-Editor TU-Editor 11th September 2019 @ 8:28 am

    The point I make is that the diesel car, carrying four passengers, is the most cost effective and climate friendly option for ‘small hop’ business trips. As to the BEV vs ICE debate it’s about the energy production mix which changes by country as cross referred in the article: https://www.tu-auto.com/bevs-remains-worst-for-global-warming/

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