The Audi A7 is the second largest machine in Audi’s expansive range, slotting between the flagship A8 luxury limousine and the upmarket A6 executive saloon. Sharing most of its DNA with the A6, the A7 gains a sleeker silhouette and a hatchback boot, making it stand out in the company car park.

While the A6 is billed as a sensible large saloon, the A7 puts the onus on style and comes with a matching increase in price, with models starting at £46,000 and rising up to a substantial £84,525 for the immensely powerful RS7.

The S7 is the junior high-performance model, fighting against the equally stylish BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe and the Mercedes CLS, which also offer space for four in a more striking package than their standard saloon counterparts.

What is it?

The S7 is the sporty version of Audi’s A7 large hatchback, which provides vast reserves of power without jeopardising comfort too much. Thanks to its spacious boot and reasonable practical cabin the S7 serves as a rapid and stylish alternative to the standard car, though it isn’t quite as hardcore as the even more rapid RS7, which costs an extra £20,000.

Despite its large size, the S7 is in fact a four-seater, though its twin-turbocharged engine makes it a competent long distance cruiser.

What is it like to drive?

With a hefty 444bhp on tap from its muscular 4.0-litre V8 engine the S7 is definitely fast, launching from a standstill to 62mph in a scant 4.6 seconds. Though it pushes you back in your seat suitably hard under acceleration and the engine emits a muted growl, the S7 never feels that sporty, due to its high refinement levels and lack of driver involvement.

Standard four-wheel drive means that even the high horsepower count doesn’t trouble the tyres’ traction, while the seven-speed automatic gearbox further reduces driver engagement. The steering also feels overly light and remote, with the low interior noise levels making the S7 feel more suited to cruising than racing along back roads, though it does offer high levels of grip.

Slow the speed down, however, and the automatic gearbox changes gears smoothly, making crawling along in traffic stress-free. The car also has several driving modes, which change its characteristics – from economy-focused Efficiency to performance-oriented Dynamic. These have a significant impact; in Efficiency mode we averaged a very impressive 37mpg economy on a 100-mile trip, while Dynamic adds weight to the steering and makes the throttle quicker to respond.

With whopping 20-inch alloy wheels and little rubber between you and the road, the S7 does have a firm but smooth ride, though it never truly manages to isolate you from the road surface. We also found the brakes a little grabby, making this Audi a little harder to drive smoothly than it should be. We also didn’t find the seats as comfortable as they could be, though they look quite supportive.

What is it like inside?

As with most high-end Audis, the S7 offers a very well-built high-quality interior. With tactile leather, a slick pop-out sat nav screen, a heads-up display on the windscreen and its solid construction, the S7 feels like a premium product, with relatively few buttons considering the impressive equipment tally. We did find the carbon fibre trim a little incongruous, though.

The interior does have its quirks, however, as the air conditioning controls are located a little too low on the dashboard to be easily to hand and can be hard to fathom out on the move. The same is true for the buttons scattered around the rotary controller for the media system, with too many similarly-sized controls next to each other.

Is it practical?

Thanks to its sheer size the S7 offers plenty of room for passengers, though there are only two seats in the rear. All but the tallest people should have sufficient room in the front seats, while there is space in the back for those up to around six foot tall.

The boot is also usefully large and the S7 has a hatchback book, making loading larger items easy. While the floor area of the boot is very large, the car’s sloping silhouette means that the boot isn’t particularly deep.

Visibility is reasonable for a car of this size, with relatively slim rear pillars, though the long bonnet makes it hard to judge where the front of the car ends. Parking sensors make parking much easier though.

Should I buy one?

The S7 is a very fast, upmarket and spacious machine, but it doesn’t quite cut it as a luxury car, due to its slightly bumpy ride and it’s certainly not a sports car either. It’s also pricey at more than £63,000. As a result, other models in the A7 range make a much more sensible purchase.

We’d recommend the 3.0 TFSI Quattro petrol, which will save you around £10,000 and still offers more than rapid enough acceleration for nearly all buyers, sprinting to 62mph in 5.3 seconds. Rivals from BMW and Mercedes also offer strong competition, though, if you’re after the fastest car for the price, the S7 is the one to go for.

Don’t want to buy new? You can browse for a used Audi A7 in our classifieds here.

The facts

Audi S7

List price: £63,420
Engine: 4.0-litre, turbocharged V8 petrol
Power: 444bhp
Top speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 4.6 seconds
Fuel economy: 21.1mpg (urban), 39.2mpg (extra-urban) 29.7mpg (combined)
Emissions: 220g/km CO2
Euro NCAP rating: Not yet tested

Pictures: Audi