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2011 Audi A7 Sportback – Click above for high-res image gallery

Autoblog is driving the stunning new Audi A7 Sportback at its international media launch this week in Sardinia, and the scuttlebutt around the hotel bar is that a hotter performance variant, the S7, will make its debut at the Paris Motor Show in the coming weeks.

With garden-variety U.S. A7 five-door powered by the latest evolution of Audi's supercharged 3.0-liter TFSI six-cylinder engine backed by a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic, it will be interesting to see what the higher-performance S7 brings to the party. As is often the way with such things, Audi representatives here on the Mediterranean island are stopping just short of confirming the debut altogether, and they certainly aren't telling us what will lurk under in the engine bay of the all-wheel drive hatchback.

Like other German automakers, Audi has pledged to back down from the cylinder-count escalation wars that have marked the last decade of its performance products, so we certainly aren't expecting a further derivation of the Lamborghini-sourced 5.2-liter V10 engine found in the current S6. The company has also been veering away from its excellent 4.2-liter FSI engine as seen in the R8 and S5 coupe, so it's possible that this engine won't make it into the S7 as well. Sister brand Bentley has already confirmed that the 2011 Continental GT will be available with a V8 engine for the first time, and it's broadly suspected that the new engine will be a direct-injected 4.0-liter turbo, and an Audi-fied version of that powerplant is expected to filter down throughout the S6/S7/S8 range.

Even though North American A7s will funnel their 296 horsepower exclusively through a paddle-shift eight-speed automatic, the model range is available with a seven-speed S Tronic dual-clutch cogswapper in European markets, and it's likely that Audi would save this more sports-oriented gearbox for the higher-performance S7. A six-speed manual is also a possibility.

Will the sporty S7 slantback make it into our showrooms? Again, Audi of America reps won't confirm it, but they are clearly vying to receive the car, and with only one powertrain confirmed for the A7 bodystyle in our market, it would make sense that a second powertrain package like that of the S7 would join the stable. As the U.S. A7 will carry a 2012 designation and won't be available until late spring, don't look for the S7 to hit U.S. dealers any time soon.

As you'll likely remember, Audi USA has been aggressively lobbying its German counterparts for more performance models as of late, having only recently confirmed the white-hot RS5 coupe for the States. The RS5 won't show until 2012, sadly, but still on the table is the importation of the TT RS, and a decision on that model is likely to be handed down within the next few days. Further, you may recall that Audi of America actually went so far as to create an online petition on its Facebook page asking brand fans to urge for its importation, and it even tempted members of the U.S. media ('Hi!') with local test drives in California.

While we're all waiting for further word on the S7 and TT RS, there's at least a new high-res gallery of the A7 Sportback to keep us entertained. Check it out below.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is the only Audi I've ever wanted. It's gorgeous. The others all look exactly like each other Audi for the past 10 years. Somehow, the very constrained language of Audi design vernacular has finally melded into an ideal Audi design.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Oh,no...TT RS has been sold in China, but America has not ...what a pity
        • 4 Years Ago
        As an American and a TT owner (1.8T 225HP but heavily modified since then) I'm looking forward to the TT-RS IF it comes at a reasonable and competitive price point which I am sceptical will and I think Audi has doubts as well. The TT-S is very expensive here and has not sold well. The problem is the 30-70K price range is inundated with some very capable sports cars (I'm not complaining!)
      • 4 Years Ago
      Audi willing to be the first to offer even LESS performance for your dollar? Oh that's just so incredible shocking.... =P
      • 4 Years Ago
      Im hoping the A7 looks better in person.
      Just not sure about that rear end. I think it probably looked better as a sketch. I can see what the designers were going for. The cut line tells the story there.

      Personally, I thinkl the A5 is the most current beautiful Audi.

      the R8 is nice but the proportions are weird from some angles and designing a
      super car is too easy.

        • 4 Years Ago
        Agree, except I would choose the A5 Sportback. It simply looks stunning when compared to its competitors.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I wonder how much Audi spends on design. $100 a year? $200?
        • 4 Years Ago
        That's more than I'd spend on your mom. HEYOOOH!!!

        I keed, I keed...
      • 4 Years Ago
      I know I'm alone here but screw it.

      The rear is awkwardly proportioned with that roofline and that wheelbase. The rear facia is pretty average and the front has a nice grille finally but it's kind of dull overall. the sheetmetal doesn't have the clean, almost laboratory clean minimalism feel of old audi's, doesn't wow me with some nice curves or interest like some of it's competitors. And I like the S4, and the A8. For a car you'd buy for style...

      I'm sorry, but the XFand S4 sedans, just the regular sedans, look better. Maserati's Quattroporte looks fantastic, the CLS (and I typically hate the mercedes because they usually look pretty awful to me) was a joy because it had some visual drama as a coupeish sedan. If I had the choice, it'd be a CLS or XF if I had the money.

      This, is SO, MEH!
      • 4 Years Ago
      id love to see the A7 as a 2-door convertible!
      • 4 Years Ago
      S7 with 430hp V8 wins. V10 would be nice, but not much more horsepower and a lot more expensive.

      I prefer the six speed manual but it will probably come with the 7sp dual clutchomatic
      • 4 Years Ago
      Isn't the V10 found in the RS6 and not the S6?
        • 4 Years Ago
        V10 is in the S6, RS6 (bi turbo) and S8.

        the RS5 is the v8 at 450hp

        This car sits on a brand new platform so anything goes. I'm guessing a new bi turbo 8 to be shared with bentley.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Nah, its in the S6 as well. It may be in the RS5 but I don't know, we don't have it in the states...yet
      • 4 Years Ago
      There are cars that are designed and crafted. This is just shaped.
      • 4 Years Ago
      this is one thing I really hate about Audi. Why the heck do we have to beg so much to bring the performance vehicles? Merc and BMW always offer AMG & M versions! argghh
      • 4 Years Ago
      I would love to see one of these in my driveway! This is the most beautiful Audi yet, although I'd love to see Audi's design language extend past the l.e.d light show and uninspiring taillights.
        • 4 Years Ago
        but this is one of the ugliest Audis

        the A5/S5 take the honor of best looking Audi's

        even the R8 is boring by comparison - i've said it before it looks like a used bar of soap

        • 4 Years Ago
        I disagree. The most beautiful Audi IS the R8.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Wow. Audi's got one wicked design on its hands. That grille's finally been sorted out. It looks like an integral part of the design now rather than just a hole in the front. Can't say anything bad about this car... Except that I don't have one like it :-(

        Nice work, Audi. I'm not a fan but this is one hot design... And so are a couple of your other recent ones. You must be sharing designers with VW as they're getting it together too as of late.
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