Audi has pulled the wraps off its latest full-size model – the A7 Sportback. The sleek five-door is an attempt to see if there is a growing market for a large, luxurious hatchback design.
Typically hatchbacks are associated with inexpensive compact cars, particularly in the United States.
However, Honda and Acura are working the same area of a thus far unknown market segment with the Crosstour and ZDX models that are currently on sale and very close in dimensions to the A7. BMW is also very much a factor here with its X6, err, SUV. (See First Drive: 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour and BMW X6 M Debuts in New York )
Audi claims the A7 has “the sporty elegance of a coupe, the comfort of a sedan and the practicality of a station wagon.” The German company will find out if potential buyers agree when the quasi-sporty, quasi-luxury car appears this fall in dealers with a € 51,600 ($67,255) starting price.
How this segment is classified – crossovers, SUVs, fastback wagons, 4-door hatchbacks, 5-door hatches – will no doubt be the subject of an interminable industry debate, as marketers look for the magic words that will motivate people to spend premium dollars for utility that is less expensively and more efficiently obtained in mainstream offerings.
While the A7 has the signature Audi grille and option LED headlights that are becoming a distinctive design cue, focus will be on the large rear hatch that provides access to a 535-liter (18.89 cu ft) capacity, which increases to a volume of 1,390 liters (49.09 cu ft) with the rear seatbacks folded forward. The styling works against optimizing room here.