If Bond drove an Audi…

It would be this one.

Audi A7 3.0 TDI Quattro S-Line, from £53,180, model on test £67,015

Not because it’s powerful yet elegant, refined yet technologically advanced. Neither is it shaken, not stirred for that matter. No. This would be Bond’s Audi for one reason only.

Night vision.

Among the bells and whistles my test car had, was a night vision assistant. And it was amazing – truly innovative, and incredibly helpful.

In effect, the system (that costs £1,510 as an option) uses infrared cameras to identify and highlight heat sources – cars, people, animals – many hundreds of feet before they are illuminated by the headlights. All this information is then transferred to the Audi ‘virtual cockpit’ that is the digital dash.

The dash in itself is quite something, toggling between oversized dials with prominence to the rev counter in Dynamic driving mode, to smaller dials and the sat nav map overlay when you’re following the directions of an orbiting satellite. But flick the switch and initialise the night vision mode, and the dash becomes a futuristic interpretation of the road ahead, with the edges of buildings and trees identified in shades of dark grey, and heat sources picked out as varying degrees of white, depending on the intensity of the heat. People and animals however are shown in vivid yellow, and are further highlighted by reticules that identify how many moving, living objects are in your way.

Of course, if this were Bond’s car, then those targeting reticules would be linked to the sniper rifles hidden in the headlights, but not so on this model.

So it’s technologically advanced, and looks the part for refined country club, golf club, or mid to high level executive car park. But other than that, is it all style over substance? Simply put, no. Thankfully. I love the look of the A7, sleek and beautiful, with a mean looking rear end. You pull up behind one of these at the lights and it just looks poised to take off and leave you standing.

The front is more understated, looking for all the world like a simple bonnet encompassing an efficient (this is an Audi after all) but probably quite punchy engine, but still stylish and composed.

This engine was relatively efficient – considering it was a six-cylinder, three-litre diesel with more than 270 horsepower and the s-tronic gearbox was similarly effective. I’ve driven Audi’s with the s-tronic box before, and it’s always been a great gearbox, and more often than not is coupled to a great engine. Equally at home pottering around town, cruising down the motorway, or handling the bends of A and B roads, this car handles brilliantly, as you’d  expect from the brand, and was really comfortable on longer trips; something often lacking in the higher end of the executive saloon (sorry Audi – ‘Sportback’) market.

Usually the addition of sports suspension often ruins the experience, but although firm and a little harsh on bigger potholes, the A7 handled the worst roads I could throw it at… obviously, with the lower ground clearance, it would be challenged a little more on some properly rural roads, but on the roads that this will inevitably spend 95% or more of its time on, it’s perfect.

I loved the time I had with this car; comfy, spacious, and frugal when you want it to be (for a four-wheel-drive car) and would love to drive one again. I would argue that the colour the test car came in was not quite right – not dark enough to be black, too dark to realistically be a shade of ‘blue’ but in all honesty that is a shockingly small criticism of a car that handled whatever I asked of it. So where to criticise?

The price possibly – being a high spec model, this one topped out at just over £67,000, but given the quality and competition in the market for this – I’d suggest the Mercedes CLS and BMW 5 Series – it’s probably pitched just right. And (I suspect) will hold its value better than it’s compatriots too.

Will Bond be driving this anytime soon? Well, he’s driven BMWs in at least two films so far, so never say never…

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