It may not have the practicality of its A6 sedan sibling, but this five-door four-seater has looks, driving pleasure - and a premium price - in spades
Someone once said, "when you're hot, you're hot." Whomever coined that phrase had a knack for stating the obvious. Either way, as far as premium car makers go, Audi's the equivalent of five-alarm chili these days. The company's all laser-focused on building the best German luxury cars and is scaring the pants off of BMW, Mercedes and rivals far beyond its borders.
Case-in-point, this new A7. Mercedes may have birthed the "four-door coupe" segment with the CLS (I still hate the term - coupes have two-doors, but I digress...) and BMW beat it with an ugly stick with the 5 Series GT, but this Audi's done arguably the best job of blending practicality, luxury and style.
In Canada, the $68,600 A7 is offered with only one engine for now (the hi-po S model's coming), though it's a sweetheart: Audi's 3.0-litre supercharged V6, making a stout 310 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque. It's mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission that can swap gears via paddle shifters and quattro all-wheel drive.
All this sound familiar? That's because the A7 shares its basic chassis and powertrains bits with the A6 sedan. Good genes, indeed. We picture them both travelling done the assembly line in Neckarsulm, Germany before one forks right to get a traditional sedan body and the other forks left to get the swept five-door shape you see here.
All A7s come standard with the four-mode Audi Drive Select system, which lets the driver dial-in (or out if you're looking to cruise…) the vehicle’s adaptive four-wheel independent suspension, the transmission shift characteristics and the engine response.
It not exclusive to the Audi in these days of increasingly computer controlled automobiles, but broaden the A7's appeal to both the comfort and performance car shopper.
The A7 will officially return 11.4 L/100 km city and 7.4 highway, or hustle from 0-100 km/h in 5.4 seconds if you have it cranked into max sport mode (the uber-cool electric rear spoiler deploys then too).
We wish the A7 had more linear steering and gave us more feel at the wheel (plus a little more of that engine's growl), but overall this is an aluminum undt steel bunker on wheels.
You'd be forgiven if you climbed into this A7 and mistook it for an A6. The two have essentially the same five-star quality interior - at least from the central window post forward. That's one of the brilliant reasons behind why the German automakers all build these five-door coupe/hatchback thingies. They charge thousands more for the bolstered style, yet largely build the cars with existing parts. It's a smart way of keep the Audi execs in Armani suits.
As with most Audis, the A7 is overwhelming your first time abroad. The sheer number of buttons, screens, controls and settings you must master is daunting. It takes a few days, but it all comes to those with patience. You'll wonder how you lived without seats with a half dozen heating levels and a touch pad like you'd find on a laptop to "write" instructions for the radio and sat-nav.
That sloped rear end on the A7 does cause some issues in the Ergonomics/Comfort part of this category. First of all, visibility to the rear's limited by that elongated roof and sharply angled rear glass. Getting your mirrors set right here - and using the optional backup camera - is key. Also, the A7 only offers two seats in the rear (versus the A6's three) and that falling roof cuts into headroom for taller riders.
Ah yes, now here's where the cleverness of the A7's design comes to the fore. Look beyond its sexy lines and this German's a practical alternative to a sedan or maybe even an SUV - Audi's own $58,000 Q7 perhaps, if you've not desperate for many, many extra acres of room inside.
The power liftgate opens high to access the luggage space large enough for a couple full-size suitcases and related swag or a baby stroller and some groceries. The 60/40-split folding rear seats increase the cargo cave size considerably when tumbled down.
The Audi's rear bumper's nice and low too, so you're not scratching that expensive paint job loading stuff in back (note: you'll want to toss the cargo cover if you have anything remotely tall to haul).
The A7's offered in two trim levels - the $68,600 Premium model and the $74,800 Premium Plus unit (I guess no one told Ingolstadt that the latter's also the name of some very tasty crackers here in Canada…).
Our test model was a seriously kitted-out example of the Audi. We won't be exhaustive here, but rest assured this unit can get seriously high-tech if you have the cash to spend, adding stuff like adaptive cruise control, blind sport monitoring, heads up display, night vision, adaptive xenon headlights and pre sense collision warning.
We're particularly fond of the $2,700 S Line Sport Package which brings more aggressive cosmetics, 20-inch wheels and sportier handling.
Like all of these "four-door coupe" creations, this Audi's a strange beast. Essentially, you pay $10,000 more for the mechanicals of an A6 with less practicality. Being so coldly logical when style's concerned can be folly, though. Judging by the large number of A7s I've seen on the road of late, there's more than a few Canadians who seem to agree.