2012 Audi A7
A few years ago, Mercedes-Benz unveiled their CLS
, the first ever ‘four-door coupe.’ We laughed, scoffed, and said, ‘Silly Mercedes, coupes are supposed to have two doors.’ As is the case with some of our expert opinions, we were proven wrong; the public loved it, and a new segment was born. Porsche followed suit with its successful Panamera
, and the newest kid on the block is the 2012 Audi A7. The four-door, four-seat medley of sedan, coupe and hatchback is a beautiful, and more functional, take on this new breed of vehicle. With it, Audi offers a host of new technology within the cabin – Google Earth and Google Maps integration is just one brilliant feature – as well as a number of drive modes for the discerning driver and an efficient eight-speed transmission. Though you’ll find more powerful engines in the competition, the supercharged V-6 is a pleasure. And styling, inside and out, is superb. But when it comes to pricing, the A7 really sets itself apart, by starting at a price at least $10,000 less than the rest of the group, even if you add up the extra costs for luxuries that the others have standard. The CLS may have been the game changer, but the A7 is a new, eye-catching take on the original.
What's to Like
Interior styling is top-notch, and the 6.5-inch touch screen tucks away for a clean look. Interior space is plentiful, including the large hatchback trunk space. Google Maps has been implemented as the navigation system, and the Google Earth display is an added bonus. Per usual, this Audi’s base price includes many upscale standard features.
What's Not to Like
While the interior remains clean in appearance, between the instrument panel and center display there is a lot of redundancy in the buttons and features. Exterior styling includes a low hatchback roofline that won’t be appealing to some. Only one engine choice is available. Like the rest of the segment, the A7 only seats four.
The cars in the four-door coupe segment are all blessed with strong drive qualities to match their impressive design elements. The A7 is, most noticeably, quick off the line – it takes just 5.4 seconds to reach 60 mph, thanks to a well-geared tiptronic transmission and decent amount of power. A sport button will add a more aggressive edge to the drive as well, and a manual mode allows you to skip through the eight speeds at your leisure. But that’s not all! You can personalize your drive settings (or set them to standard ‘comfort’ or ‘dynamic’) with Audi’s Drive Select. There are few negatives to the drive experience; Audi has done a superb job keeping the cabin whisper quiet, and the seats hug you like a long-lost aunt. However, the sheer weight of the A7 (4,210 pounds) can be felt around corners, even though the Quattro all-wheel drive system does a fantastic job of gripping the road in every type of condition. Really, the lesson to take away from driving the A7 is this: it’s quick and fantastically fun to drive.
Engine and Drivetrain
The 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 delivers enough power (310 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque) to be ideal even though it's the only engine choice available. Those who want more power in a similar style will want to take a spin in the Mercedes-Benz CLS550
. The A7 puts power to all four wheels through an eight-speed tiptronic automatic transmission with DSP. The Quattro all-wheel drive system delivers power to the wheels with the most traction, allowing the A7 to keep its footing in rough driving conditions.
Green Evaluation/Gas Mileage
Gas mileage is surprisingly good for such a large car. And while Audi’s decision to use a supercharger over a turbocharger isn’t generally the more efficient choice, the A7 returns 18 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. This is standard for the segment, though be warned: You’ll be filling up with premium fuel.
Features and Technology
As expected, the A7 is fully stocked with standard features, such as tilt/telescope steering wheel, keyless entry, and keyless start. The 6.5-inch multimedia screen has a crisp display and houses the infotainment functions in a concise and aesthetically pleasing way.
Some of the best features are found in packages or on more expensive trims. In them you’ll find a parking system with rearview camera, as well as a Bang & Olufsen audio system. With an obscene 1,300 watts and 15 speakers, be prepared for a mind-bending sound.
Like most of Audi’s interiors, the A7’s is clean, modern and filled with high quality, soft-touch materials. A 6.5-inch center touch screen grabs focus when out, but stows away when you don’t need it. The instrument panel also holds a large LCD screen that displays a number of key functions. Plenty of legroom throughout, plus the fold-down seats and open hatchback allow for more than enough storage space.
You’ll find the A7 looks very similar to the newly redesigned A8
, with the A7’s sloping, hatchback roofline being the most prominent difference between the two. Clearly, the A7 fits well within the Audi design language, and the large grille and swooping headlamps make a dramatic and modern styling statement.
Market Segment and Pricing
Where just a few years ago this segment didn’t even exist, there are now a number of four-door coupes vying for our attention. The A7 starts at $59,250 and rises to $62,870 for the Premium and $65,580 for the Prestige. Even for the top of the line, the price still undercuts the Mercedes-Benz CLS550
($71,300) and Porsche Panamera
What We Think
It’s easy to take an original idea and make it better (iPhone and Android users will argue over that one for years), and essentially that’s what Audi did when it developed the A7 years after the CLS
came to market. But you can’t fault it for taking on the competition head on, especially when you take a look at the result. All the cars in this segment have their specialties, and the A7’s killer looks yet IKEA-like pricing are the elements which give it an edge.