New Audi A7 Sportback revealed

* On sale next month from 43k * Rivals BMW 5 Series GT and Merc CLS * First deliveries in January 2011...

New Audi A7 Sportback revealed

The new Audi A7 Sportback has been revealed. As its name suggests, it will sit between the A6 and A8 in Audis range and cost from 42,925 when it goes on sale next month.

The looks Audi's rival to the BMW 5 Series GT and Mercedes CLS remain very similar to the Audi A7 Sportback concept, that was unveiled at the 2009 Detroit motor show.

Its billed as a five-door coupe and continues the growing trend for blurring traditional car classes.

Although it goes on sale next month, it will not be available for delivery in the UK until January 2011. However, customers ordering before January 4 will avoid the 2.5 per cent VAT hike.

The Audi A7 Sportback is 497cm long, 191cm wide but only 142cm high. By comparison, the BMW 5 Series GT is 3cm longer, 1cm narrower and 14cm higher, while the Mercedes is 5cm shorter, 4cm narrower and 1cm taller.

The boot can hold 535 litres of luggage seats up, or 1390 litres with the seats folded down. The 5-series GT can hold 440 litres seats up and 1700 litres seats down while 505 litres is available behind the fixed seats of the CLS.

The Audi A7 Sportback will go on sale with two petrol and two diesel V6 engines initially, ranging in power from 201bhp to 256bhp. Torque ranges from 207lb ft 369lb ft. All engines are mated to energy recuperation and stop-start systems to improve efficiency.

The cleanest of the quartet, the 201bhp 3.0 TDI, averages 53.3mpg and emits 139g/km of CO2 with the standard multitronic automatic gearbox. A sportier seven-speed S tronic gearbox with permanent four-wheel drive is also available as an option, along with a sporty differential.

Two trim levels are available - SE and S Line. Standard kit will include xenon headlights, LED rear lights, a powered tailgate, leather upholstery, climate control, electric seat adjustment, heated front seats, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, sat-nav, iPod connection, DAB radio and Bluetooth connection.

The aluminium-and-steel A7 Sportback is said to be particularly light and safe, and has an especially quiet cabin. Buyers can opt for 18-, 19- or 20-inch alloys, and adaptive air suspension. Audi also says a new electromechanical power steering system greatly improves driver feel.

Technology on the car includes active lane assist to stop a driver veering off course, and a park assist system that steers the car into spaces automatically. It also has all-weather headlights, which replace the traditional fog light, and a head-up display that projects information onto the windscreen so the driver doesnt have to take their eyes off the road.

The touchpad sat-nav screen first seen on the new Audi A8, which allows the driver to write a destination on the screen with their finger, will also be available. The sat-nav can also use Google Earth images to enhance the mapping.

The interior is described by Audi as having workmanship at a craftsmans level, and is significant because many of the design touches and materials will be used in the new A6. It can be enhanced by options including ventilated, massaging front seats and ambient lighting.

Mechanically, the Audi A7 is a blend of the current Audi A6 and Audi A8 models, although its floorplan will be shared with the next Audi A6 with an identical wheelbase.

An updated Mercedes CLS is expected to be unveiled at the Paris motor show in September.