The name, Sportback, isn't one with much meaning for Americans, but at Audi it will soon assume greater significance than Avant. Already, the company refers to the A3 four-door hatchback as a Sportback and at the Paris auto show last fall it unveiled the subcompact A1 Sportback concept. Here, Audi wants to show that the Sportback idea isn't just for small cars.
Indeed, this Sportback concept is a preview of the upcoming Audi A7, essentially a premium, four-door coupe variant of the A6, much in the same way the Mercedes-Benz CLS is positioned above the E-class on which it's based.
So this Sportback (nee A7) is not a small car. It's just a shade longer (0.6 inch) than the A6 Avant, but more than three inches narrower and lower than the A6. The design of the large hatchback, however, is supposed to mimic the A5 notchback coupe. The front end gets a more squat version of Audi's large, vertical grille, and the exterior is dressed up with LED lights front and rear, and 21-inch wheels. As befits a show car, the interior is over-the-top plush, with leather everywhere (and a Bentley-esque, diamond sew pattern on the seats), a huge glass roof panel, oak "blockboard" wood trim, and filigreed aluminum.
Mechanically, this concept showcases all the latest Audi goodies. That means a turbocharged, direct-injection diesel, specifically the 3.0-liter V-6 that will be offered in the Q7 SUV starting this April. Here it makes 225 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque, and it's mated to an 8-speed tiptronic automatic. The powertrain uses Audi's revised layout, seen already in the A4- and A5-series cars, that reduces the front overhang. Audi claims that this engine can hustle the 3968-pound concept from 0 to 62 mph in less than 7 seconds, and can also achieve nearly 37 mpg in the European test cycle. The Sportback also features a multilink suspension, active dampers (similar to those in the Q7), and ceramic disc brakes.
Although this concept gives a good indication of what the upcoming A7, it's only part of the story. The A7 likely will also offer a second body style, a swoopy sedan with a conventional trunk. That car should break cover next fall, not as a concept tease but in full production form.
Audi Sportback concept
For real: Yes, as the A7
Powertrain: 3.0-liter V-6 TDI, 225 hp, 406 lb-ft, 8-speed automatic, AWD
Our take: Hatchbacks could lose their stigma at last.