2012 Audi A7
Brand-new, elegantly shaped premium A7 hatchback contains supercharged V-6 and a sizable collection of available technology
As its numerical model designation suggests, the new Audi A7 occupies a niche right between the premium German automaker's midsize A6 sedan and the full-size A8 flagship sedan. Comparisons with its companions on either side of the size equation barely begin to describe the new model, though. Rather than a sedan with a trunk, the 2012 Audi A7 is a hatchback—a body style not seen all that often on motorcars of this size, except among high-end German makes. Like several European competitors, too, the A7 exhibits a distinctively coupe-like profile, due largely to its low roofline.
Distinctive A7 Styling
Not only is the A7's silhouette sleek, but that low roofline yields an elongated appearance, making the sedan seems longer than it is in reality. At a glance, too, the back end almost looks like it contains a trunk with a small lid rather than a hatch configuration. In short, the 2012 Audi A7 comes closer than most upper-end automobiles to falling into a class by itself.
As Audi puts it, the A7 combines the "emotional appeal of a coupe with the prestige of a sedan and the functionality of a wagon," highlighted by its "expansive hood and low-slung, sporty proportions." Built on a relatively long (114.7-inch) wheelbase, the 2012 Audi A7 measures 195.6 inches overall and a substantial 84.2 inches wide. On the other hand, the hatchback sedan is only 55.9 inches high. Rear passengers reside in twin contoured seats, for a total capacity of four occupants.
Signature Grille and LED Lights
Developers note that the Audi A7 looks back at the company's heritage, paying homage to the 1969 Audi 100 Coupe S. Audi touts the A7's frameless door windows and integrated rear doors. C-pillars stretch to the rear and flow into the body's shoulders. Hybrid aluminum construction blends aluminum with high-end steels, so the A7 weighs about 15 percent less than a comparable all-steel body.
The "signature" Singleframe grille is contoured at the leading edge of the hood, while standard xenon-plus headlight technology replaces traditional foglamps. Full LED lighting is an option. Also optional is an adaptive lighting system that modifies illumination level based on the driving environment and whether the A7 is cornering, traveling urban streets, or on the open road.
Wheels and Suspension
At the rear of the Audi A7, an integrated spoiler automatically extends at 80 mph then retracts when speed drops to 50 mph. It can be deployed and retracted by pushing a button, too. Standard Audi "drive select" modifies shift points, steering boost, and throttle characteristics, using four modes: comfort, auto, dynamic, and individual.
Standard wheels are 18-inch diameter, but 19- and 20-inch wheels are available. An optional sport suspension lowers the body by 0.39 inch.
Supercharged V6 Power
Under the hood, the 2012 Audi A7 is powered by a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine, which generates 310 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. It's mated with an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission and Audi's latest-generation quattro all-wheel drive. Gas mileage, according to EPA estimates, is appealing for a car of this size and type: 18 mpg in city driving and a thriftier 28 mpg on the highway.
Loaded with electronics and technology, the Audi A7 Sportback delivers a rather traditional, subtle luxury road experience, serving as a solid and refined road machine. Exceptionally quiet running, the sleek hatchback delivers utterly effortless, refined acceleration, reaching cruising speed hastily with no fuss whatsoever. Audi's supercharged V-6 delivers the goods in the performance department, making the claim of 5.4-second acceleration to 0-60 mph seem accurate.
Despite a relatively taut suspension, the ride can be close to genteel when the surface is unmarred. For a luxury car, however, the new Audi A7 yields a rather rough, bumpy ride on some pavements. Without a doubt, it leans toward the sporty end of the sport-luxury category.
An utterly confident feeling of control results from the A7's inviting steering feel and precise operation. In short, the 2012 Audi A7 offers typical Audi handling: confident and well behaved, with a high level of sport sensation and accomplishment. Yet, it's quite an easy car to drive, and even to judge.
Advanced Technology and Interior
Audi's MMI Plus control system includes a bright and easily readable eight-inch display screen that rises from the dashboard, putting audio, navigation, and telephone functions into a single "intuitive" interface that's meant to reduce driver distraction. Ten-way adjustable front seats are available with four-way lumbar support, three-stage ventilation, and three-stage heating. Rear seats may be heated as well.
Getting into the front seat is easy enough, but entering the rear demands some head-ducking. Once there, space and comfort are satisfying. Front seats are supportive and comfortable, if short-bottomed. The power-opening hatch lid works neatly from the key fob, and a button on the lid closes it again.
Options and Pricing
For a Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price of $60,125 (including $875 destination charge), the 2012 Audi A7 Sportback delivers a lot of technology. Still, adding a few of the available extra-cost features can push that selling price markedly higher yet. A Prestige package, for instance, includes bumpers with air-inlet grilles and extended side sills. Adaptive cruise control is available, along with Audi side assist. A night vision assistant can identify pedestrians in the car's path, highlighting the person's silhouette in the display to alert the driver. Sales began in May 2011. www.audiusa.com
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