An elegant, sporty multitasker
Audi makes some of the sexiest coupes on the road today. The TT and S5 are both examples. So is the iconic R8, which is particularly badass because Iron Man drives one.
Trouble is, when more than one passenger requires a ride, you might be out of luck. The S5 has decent rear seats, but no doors to help access them. The TT's rear seats are too small for people with legs, and the R8 doesn't have rear seats at all.
Audi's 4-door coupe
So, for some, Audi's new A7 might be the solution. And the unique and striking 'four-door coupe' styling will likely be what they fall in love with first.
A departure from the chiseled, chunky and muscular looks of many recent Audis, much of the A7 is soft, sweeping, smooth, elegant and gentle. The face, as one of the most aggressive on this side of six-digit territory, is a striking bit of styling, too. This machine looks like a seriously big deal rolling down the road.
A (Relatively) Simple Cabin Jammed With Technology
The tester's cabin contrasted starkly with the depthy, detailed and expressive body. It was mostly simple where shapes and textures are concerned, and was colored mostly with black and silver. Your writer wished for some more flare and energy from the cabin to match the exterior look--but even if this isn't Audi's most exciting cabin, it's still virtually perfectly assembled and trimmed.
High-tech goodies included a night-vision camera that can actively detect and track pedestrians on dark roads, a Head-Up Display (HUD) a la a fighter jet, and a unique doodle-pad gizmo that lets drivers use their fingertip to scribble a phone number or destination directly into the computer. Slick stuff.
Front seats are heated and air conditioned, the steering wheel is heated, and a full suite of connectivity features makes the A7 fast friends with your cell phone or MP3 player.
Utility and Comfort
The sleek, coupe-like roofline means rear headroom is limited for taller occupants, though it should handle four adults of standard height with no concern. The A7's front seats are comfortable, equipped with storage drawers beneath, and flanked by deep, door-mounted storage pockets.
There's a surprising level of utility, too. The wide, long trunk, accessed by a motorized tailgate, should offer up plenty of room for your gear. And with standard quattro all-wheel drive, it's a sporty bit of elegant utility you can use confidently, even in the middle of a blizzard.
The A7's headlights are noteworthy. I've driven countless thousands of kilometers in hundreds of cars after dark, and the A7's lighting system is likely the best I've ever come across. The colour, spread, saturation and quality of its illumination is magnificent.
End of the day, this is a four-door coupe that's ready for a day of shopping, a trip to the slopes in a blizzard, or anything in between.
With just three litres of displacement, the A7's V6 uses direct injection and a so-called 'mechanical turbocharger' to boost power output. We Canadians call that a supercharger, by the way.
Nomenclature aside, drivers get 310 horsepower, handled by an automatic transmission with a quick-to-react paddle-shift manual mode. The 8-speed box helps the A7 perform strongly while enabling mileage figures that suggest otherwise.
My test average consumption landed at 10.9L/100km of premium, with that figure falling just below 7 during highway cruising in no particular rush.
But the A7 is a treat to drive when you're in a rush. Opened up, it's got a restrained but delightful howl that calls a Porsche flat-6 to mind. The supercharger operates in silence, but helps crank out liquid smooth, linear and strong power output at any RPM.
And seriously, you should see this thing get off the line. Massive low-end torque, aggressive gearing and quattro AWD mean the A7 simply squats down and rockets away with no fuss when drivers jam on it. The near-startling levels of off-the-line thrust feel as if they came from a much larger engine.
Handling is typical Audi: planted, stable and composed even ripping corners at high speed. In its 'dynamic' mode, steering is heavy and quick, encouraging dialed-in exploration of the A7's limits when desired.
Shoppers in locales with poorly maintained roads are advised to opt out from the large wheels and low-profile tires, which can result in a rough or jarring ride on some surfaces.
Multitasking, Audi Style
After a week and nearly 3,000 km, I didn't find any one part of the A7 to be the single most overwhelming reason to check it out. It's a machine that's equal parts luxury, high-tech, year-round supercharged sportiness, and utility. A sophisticated Jack of All Trades, if you will.
There's a laundry list of tasks the $68,600 A7 is ready to tackle -- and it'll tackle them all with looks that'll make the neighbors jealous.
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Editor's Review Highlights
2012 Audi A7 Specifications
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