Audi A7 Sportback 55 quattro TFSI e review: A sporty plug-in hybrid

The Audi A7 TFSI e is a luxury Sportback plug-in hybrid that offers a bit more grunt over the pure gasoline variant. Aside from its improved powertrain, the four-door saloon also bolsters its eco-credentials by significantly lowering its CO2 emissions as it claims to run for up to 25 miles on all-electric power.

It’s all very promising but with the Sportback 55 quattro TFSI e Competiton starting from £68,425, which at the time of writing is around £10,000 more than the equivalent petrol-based A7 – it’s a tough sell. So, is the added premium worth it? Let’s find out.

If you’d prefer to watch a review of the Audi A7 TFSI e, visit our YouTube channel.

Audi A7 TFSI e price & competition

The 55 quattro plug-in hybrid is pretty expensive, but it does have an edge over its siblings in terms of performance. Here, its 4-cylinder engine combined with its electric motor dispatch 270 kW (362 hp) of power, 500 Nm of torque and will get to 62 mph in just 5.6 seconds. This explains why Audi has lobbed the word ‘Competition’ with its 55 quattro model.

If you are willing to sacrifice a bit of grunt, the Sport 50 TFSI e quattro S tronic can be yours for £59,575. The latter model has 220 kW (295 hp) of power, 370 Nm of torque and will launch to 62mph in 6.3 seconds.

Audi A7 TFSIe review

By comparison, the cheapest non-electrified model – Sport 40 TDI quattro S tronic – will set you back £47,155. This model has a diesel engine that outputs 150 kw (201 hp) of power, 400 Nm of torque and will get to 62mph in 7 seconds.

Arguably, the most comparable non-electric A7 is the S line 55 TFSI quattro S tronic, that costs £57,955; it has a petrol engine, 250 kW (335 hp) of power, 500 Nm of torque and accelerates to 62mph in just 5.2 seconds.

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Aside from the powertrain differences, the biggest comes in form of benefit-in-kind (BIK) company car tax. The TFSI e, here, emits 46g/km combined according to the WLTP test cycle; meaning it incurs 12% BIK. By comparison, the cheapest TDI model that outputs 152g/km will put you in the upper bracket, which means 33% BIK, instead.

That’s a sizable difference and could mean the price difference between the non-electrified and plug-in hybrid models are far smaller than they first seem.

As for competition, there’s the Mercedes-AMG CLS 53, which starts from £76,600 and the BMW 745e Saloon from £79,690 – these two models both offer a premium saloon-sized driving experience. Switch to fully electric, and you’ve got the Tesla Model S from £74,980.

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Audi A7 TFSI e exterior review

With its premium price, one would expect a spectacular exterior design; thankfully the Audi A7 TFSI e looks impeccable.

From the front, the car sports an aggressive design with its hexagon-shaped front grille and its front bumper that has air ducts to improve the vehicle’s aerodynamic performance.

The vehicle’s side profile similarily oozes a sporty look with 20″ alloys coming as standard. Around the back, the taillight wraps around the boot lid and a hexagon-shaped rear bumper takes centre stage; Audi conceals its exhaust system under the rear portion of the car. At the back, you’ll also find a retractable spoiler which by default is concealed within the boot lid – more on how this affects aerodynamic performance, below.

When it comes to the car’s colour, it’s available in nine different finishes (excluding Audi’s exclusive paints): Brilliant Black and Ibis White come at no additional charge; the metallic finishes Firmament blue, Floret silver, Glacier white, Mythos black, Vesuvius gray and the pictured Tango red are an additional £685; the Pearl effect Daytona grey is also priced the same as the metallic finishes.

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Audi A7 TFSI e interior review

Inside, it’s equally impressive, where the leather upholstery and dashboard look elegant and are met with a practical interior design.

The 10.1″ infotainment touchscreen display that has haptic feedback takes centre stage on the dashboard. Through its comprehensive set of menus, one can tweak the car’s setting and even change the interior ambient lighting – that is, if you’ve opted for the £2,295 Comfort and Sound pack. Within the pack, you’ll also get 360° cameras, advanced keyless entry and the 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system. If you’d like to hear how it performs, watch our dedicated review of the system on our YouTube channel.

Audi A7 TFSIe cabin

Read next: Audi A7 audio review: 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen system

Under the main display is a secondary 8.6″ touchscreen that’s dedicated to climate controls and has a capacitive button to enable EV mode; there’s also one to operate the rear spoiler. Through the climate controls, you’ll be able to change the fan speed, temperature and initiate the front-heated seats, which come as standard on the hybrid models.

Moving away from the centre dashboard and onto the instrument cluster, you’ll be presented with a part-customisable 12″ display. It’s bright, gives you all the information you require and is comprehensively laid out, whereby it shows power usage, range, and speed among other things. We’re particularly fond in the way it highlights when you’re in EV mode by showing a green semi-circle – equally when it transitions to the 4-cylinder engine, which shows up in orange. It’s a small touch, but certainly, one that will be appreciated by those wanting to keep their tailpipe emissions down to a minimum.

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Unfortunately, a head-up display doesn’t come as standard meaning you’ll have to peer down at the instrument cluster, instead. On the safety front, our model comes with the £1,375 City Assist Pack, which adds sensors around the car to help prevent a collision.

Keeping with the theme of technology, the A7 TFSI e supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, whereby you can connect a compatible smartphone with Audi’s Multi-Media Interface (MMI) interface via one of the two USB slots found within the storage compartment of the centre console. Here, there’s also a wireless charging pad for smartphones.

You can also connect wirelessly via Bluetooth, which unlike most of its competitors, is refreshing to see the inclusion of the AAC codec alongside SBC. The former transmits superior quality audio over Bluetooth and is the preferred choice for iOS users.

Audi A7 TFSIe gear selector

In terms of practicality, at the centre console, there’s an ergonomic gear selector that sits next to two cupholder spaces, which can be concealed under a hatch; a 12V cigarette lighter resides here, too. Just in front of this section, there’s a volume knob that doubles up as a skip/previous control when shifted to the right and left, respectively; a button to initiate the parking sensors; the ability to disable the sensors for increased safety and a start/stop button are also present.

On the steering wheel, you’ll find conveniently placed instrument cluster controls on the left and media controls to the right. Both sides also feature a small rubbery wheel that makes for adjusting the volume and flicking through the instrument cluster all that bit easier.

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Audi A7 TFSI e storage review

Moving onto storage, the Audi A7 TFSI e loses a bit of space in comparison to its non-electrified siblings; 380 litres in the boot as opposed to 535 litres, and 1,235 litres with the seats down in comparison to 1,390 litres in the pure gasoline variant. The lost space is to accommodate the 14.1 kWh battery pack.

Still, the boot is large enough to fit a large suitcase or a few cabin luggage, with the seats propped down a mountain bike or two can be squeezed in. Better still, if you’re transporting longer-sized goods, but have four occupants in total in the car, you can bring down the centre seat to accommodate for them.

Elsewhere, there’s storage by each of the vehicle’s four doors and two cupholder spaces that reside within the rear centre seat, which can also double up as an armrest for rear occupants.

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Audi A7 TFSI e comfort review

Speaking of rear occupants, the car can seat up to five adults. There’s also climate controls and a 12V socket for charging electronic devices.

The seats themselves are supremely comfortable, where the front two are electronically adjustable and feature lumbar support, too. Be it on fast-paced drives along country roads or long-distance excursions, the four main seats provide a cushiony experience and yet, will hold you firmly in place when going around bends at speed. The same couldn’t be said about the rear centre seat, which by comparison is a little stiff and can make for an uncomfortable experience if you’re going the distance.

When it comes to legroom, the A7 TFSI e is plentiful – 6-foot (182cm) individuals won’t have an issue and if you’ve got longer legs, you won’t feel cramped. The same could be said for headroom at the front, however, given the vehicle’s Sportback design, headroom at the back is limited. Those who measure 6 ft 4in (195cm), will struggle to sit comfortably at the rear.

Moving onto cabin noise, the A7 TFSI e does an excellent job at cancelling environment sounds and keeps both tyre and wind noise down to a minimum. It’s not as silent as Audi’s premium executive vehicle, the A8, but it’s still among one of the quietest cabins around.

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Audi A7 TFSI e performance review

Given the vehicle’s design, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that the A7 TFSI e has relatively stiff suspension. Now, while it might not be as hard as a BMW M2 Competition, it’s certainly not as buttery smooth as Audi’s e-tron or A8 models, which opt for active air suspension. You will feel the odd pothole and speed bump, especially if you drive at pace.

When it comes to getting off the lights, the Sportback 55 quattro TFSI e Competiton delivers 270 kW (362 hp) of power, which translates to a 0-62mph time of 5.6 seconds – top speed is limited to 155mph. It’s rapid and with 500 Nm of torque at your disposal, it’s extremely fun to launch. Here, you’ll find its throttle response is good, albeit not perfect in comparison to some of BMW’s sportier alternatives. The same could be said about its 7-speed S tronic dual-clutch, which is a little slow to respond.

Audi A7 TFSIe performance

You can manually flick through the gears via the flappy paddles on the steering wheel or by shifting into manual mode on the gear selector. Alternatively, you can lob it into Sport mode and let the car do its thing in a more spirited fashion over the regular Drive mode.

Truthfully, we can’t see most opting for manual mode, but of course, there will be some who prefer to have full control of the car’s behaviour, at which point, the A7 might not be their cup of tea.

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On the plus side, Audi’s quattro (all-wheel drive) system is a marvel. It keeps the car planted and makes it hard to lob sideways. To better its grip, the retractable spoiler can be deployed, whereby it makes the car ever so slightly more aerodynamic when taking corners at speeds. On inner-city routes or on motorways, however, we’d recommend leaving the spoiler concealed as it can lead to a slightly more inefficient drive.

On the subject of efficiency, the vehicle’s 14.1 kWh battery pack only claims to run for 25 miles in full-electric mode at a speed of up to 84mph. In reality, it’s nearer 20 miles in mixed driving conditions; a slight lacklustre performance, given the A7 TFSI e’s main selling point is its lowered emissions. It’s also limited to a 7.4 kW input via its Type 2 port, which yields a full charge in two and a half hours.

Elsewhere, the car has a 52-litre tank that yields around 380 miles of driving range – combined with its realistic EV range, you can get up to 400 miles on a single charge and tank. We clocked an average 40-45 MPG in our time of testing the car, a reasonable figure for a car of its class.

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TotallyEV’s verdict on the Audi A7 TFSI e

On the whole, the Audi A7 PHEV – more precisely the Sportback 55 quattro TFSI e Competiton – is almost the perfect car. It’s lavish exterior and interior trim will leave a lot of people salivating, its nippy performance and feel will excite most drivers and its practical design will accommodate the whole family.

The major sticking point, however, is its limited all-electric range which will be a deal-breaker for those wanting to emit zero tailpipe emissions on their commutes. Of course, you might not cover more than 20 miles a day, which might make it ideal if you’re purchasing it as a company car. Ultimately, the electrified A7 isn’t for everyone, but for those who want to lower their BIK contribution and want to marginally reduce their impact on the environment, the TFSI e is well-worth considering.

Let us know what you make fo the Audi A7 TFSI e in the comments below or via social media; we’re on: YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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