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Technology, luxury, and sexiness combine like never before in Audi's A7

Technology, luxury, and sexiness combine like never before in Audi's A7

July 28, 2011 - Words and photos by Anthony Marino
Fairly recently I had the pleasure of parking a 2012 Audi A7 in my driveway for exactly one week. Seven days certainly isn't a long time, but it's definitely long enough to fall in love. Now yes I am biased, and sure I might "love" a lot of cars, but this affair was much different than the others. This one really meant something and it was more than superficial. This time it was just as much about the brains at it was the looks.

I'd also like to point out that I didn't immediately dig the looks of the A7 when I first saw it in photos. Yes, it sounds a little cliché to say that ‘photos don't do it justice’, but in the case of the A7, it really is much more beautiful in person. I think it has a lot to do with the overall size of the car, and it definitely has a lot to do with the curves.

The A7 is often compared to the Mercedes CLS (since it basically created the category) as well as the Porsche Panamera. By now we've seen those cars in person, either at a dealership or on the road, and we know what they're about. Those are both great cars, with love or hate styling, but the A7 takes the "four door coupe" theme to a whole new level.  This car's proportions just work. In person, they’re downright sexy from all angles, even (perhaps especially) the ass, which is where most of the other big coupish sedans fail.

This is what I consider a "young executive" car. It's sportier and more aggressive than an A6 and doesn't take itself as seriously as its older more proper brother the A8. As such, I needed to take it out of the suburbs and somewhere a bit more appropriate. I needed some great roads to test the power and handling as well as a worthy backdrop for a shoot. Being in Northern California there's no shortage of places to choose from, and so I picked two of my favorite places. For the first half of the week we took the A7 up to the Sonoma 'Wine Country', while towards the end of my time with the car I guided it through the hills of 'Silicon Valley's' upscale towns of Los Gatos and Saratoga.

My biggest concern was that Audi once again went with a "de-tuned" version of the supercharged 3.0-liter V6 from the current S4. Don't get me wrong, it's a great engine, certainly one of Audis best in recent years, but why take away power from it? They did so with both the last A6 and the new one, which is a tad more understandable, but in the big badass A7? Number wise we're looking at the same 325 lb-ft torque but 310 horses on the A7 versus 333 hp for the S4.

On top of that the A7 is well over 200 pounds heavier than an S4, automatic vs automatic. So yes, it's certainly lacking the kick in the pants that the S4 has, but in all honesty it's not disappointing. It does leave room for improvement, sure. Even the S4 does. But hey, guys like me are never happy with stock horsepower and a nonexistent exhaust growl! Of course this obviously sets the scene for the sequel, or as Audi will call it, the S7.

Since it shares the S4's force-fed engine, it also shares some darn-good gas mileage. The impressive-for-its-class 18 city and 28 highway rating is also due in large part to the car's standard 8-speed Tiptronic transmission which pretty much ensures the optimum gear no matter the speed. To compare, the base Porsche Panamera 3.6-liter V6 with all-wheel drive gets the same 18MPG on the highway but an estimated 26 highway. You can't really compare the Mercedes though because it's only available with a big-ass twin turbo V8 and rear-wheel drive. Oh and by the way, both the Porsche and Mercedes cost $10-20K more than the A7.

All three cars have near identical wheelbase and external length and width numbers. For the most part the same can be said of the interior dimensions, with a few key differentiators. None of them are good on rear headroom, as is typical with the sloping roofs on these 4-door coupes, but the A7 does have several inches more legroom in the back. The biggest numerical difference though comes with cargo room, where Audi's ingenious use of a hatchback allows for nearly 10 additional cubic feet over the competition with an impressive 24.5 cubic feet in total.

What all of these cars do well, something the German automakers are renowned for, is blending comfort with luxury. What Audi itself has become synonymous with is throwing advanced technology into the mix. This means impressive tech as seen in other models such as the newest A8, and now the all-new A6 - things like a touch-pad stylus, in-car WiFi, and the incorporation of Google Earth. These may at first seem like frivolous unnecessary features that couldn't possibly work as well as you might hope, but once using them for yourself you'll be blown away and quite possibly become an even bigger Audi fan than you might already be. They're just that damn good!

Of course, a lot of these nifty features are extra, and not included in the 60-grand base price. The Dakota Gray Metallic on Velvet Beige A7 that I had for the week was a Prestige Package car which ringed up at $68,630 USD. Prestige includes the entire fancy tech I mentioned above, and then some such as keyless entry and heated/ventilated seats. It also includes an S line exterior package with sportier front and rear bumpers and more pronounced side skirts making the thing even better looking and that much sexier. The car had a few additional extras as well like the stunning all-LED headlights seen previously on the R8 and A8 and the 20" sport wheels wrapped in 265/35 summertime rubber. Pretty much the only thing it didn't have was the incredible 1,300 watt Bang & Olufsen sound system or the head-up display and night vision assist found in the Innovation Package.

All in all, I was pretty impressed on all counts. It had everything a car in this class should have, and everything a guy of my age could want. It had the looks, the brawn, the refinement, and the brains. Five to ten years ago I could have cared less about the later two points. It was all about what was on the outside and under the hood. Of course one can simply contribute that to growing up, but I also think it shows that Audi is continuing to make better-rounded more versatile feature-filled vehicles that almost anyone would lust over. Of course, the little kid in me would love just a tad more brawn. So alas, S7, I'll be waiting for you.
  1. The Audi A7 in Saratoga, CA - by Anthony Marino

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  17. The Audi A7 in Sonoma, CA - by Anthony Marino

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Technology, luxury, and sexiness combine like never before in Audi's A7
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