IN 2006, Justin Timberlake sang SexyBack... which claimed "I'm bringin sexy back". He was singing about music and the world of entertainment. Audi, on the other hand, has its focus on the world of motoring... and plans to do likewise with its latest A7 Sportback.
In Audi speak, the Sportback is a combination of a coupe and an estate. In other words, sleek and spacious. Both are words that roll off the tongue easily when describing this car.
Sleek, because it falls into the fastback category: The side-on silhouette shows off a roofline that flows seamlessly, almost in coupe fashion. And spacious because it is a big car - it's almost 5m long - that uses the same platform as the new A6.
That said, the A7 has the ability to wrap around the driver and lure him into thinking that he's piloting a sports car. The seduction begins as you approach the car. It squats low, the hindquarters sculpted for power. Once inside, the "go fast" mood is heightened by the immaculate cockpit - paddle-shifters on the steering wheel are always a giveaway. And once you fire up the 2.8-litre V6, the low-pitched growl is enough to make you flex your abs in anticipation.
The feeling picks up momentum once you get moving. The V6, capable of 204bhp at 5,250rpm, is elastic enough to allow the A7 to innocently waft through traffic or bore a hole through the atmosphere. Of course, the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox has a lot to do with that smooth delivery of power.
This ability to transform from boulevard cruiser to highway express is augmented by Audi's Drive Select programme which permits the driver to pick from three settings - Comfort, Auto or Dynamic - that adjust throttle response, gearshift timings, suspension firmness and steering feedback.
In a bid to display Audi's tree-hugging penchant - and save you some money at the pumps - the A7 is fitted with a start-stop function that switches off the engine whenever the car comes to a complete halt. As you lift your foot off the brake pedal and transfer it to the accelerator to get moving again, the system re-starts the engine.
I've got to admit that it's a little disconcerting initially thanks to a small shudder that accompanies each engine shutdown - the first time it happened, I thought someone had bumped into the car from the rear - but you get used to it. And eventually you applaud its intelligence for over-riding the step-off-brake re-start when the halt is too long and the air-conditioning is bleeding too much power from the battery.
By the way, SexyBack spent seven weeks as the top single on the Billboard Hot 100 list, won Best Dance Recording at the 2007 Grammy Awards and got Timberlake the Male Artist of the Year award at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards. I'm willing to bet that this A7 will do likewise, motoring-wise, for Audi.