Automotive fashion can be just as trendy as haute couture. Everyone, it seems, wants to build a four-door sedan that has the sleek profile of a coupe. Some work and some are a bit awkward, but Audi’s A7 stands out as one of the most visually successful.
The fastback A7 is striking because the proportions are spot on, and the fit and finish are exemplary. Visual excitement is but one part of the car. The more practical side is the long rear hatch that covers a nice-sized trunk that expands to near station-wagon depth when the rear seats are folded. Of course, the sloping roof limits the cargo height.
Think luxury coupe blended with a sexy station wagon.
Whether it’s fashion or function, the A7 consistently drew admiring looks and plenty of questions during the week I drove it.
If you want anonymity, this is not the car for you.
The A7, with a base price of $59,250, slots between the A6 and the A8, but it sits on the platform of the next-generation A6.
The A7 is powered by a supercharged, 310-horsepower V-6 that is rated at 18 mpg in the city and 28 on the highway. It is mated to an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission that gives the driver the ability to make manual shifts.
Performance is brisk but not blistering, and that seems proper at a time when the price of gasoline is a concern to many. City mileage is about what one would expect, but the highway rating of 28 mpg is quite good.
Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system is superb. It aids traction in bad weather, but it also has a slight rear-wheel bias on dry pavement that helps the car feel agile.
Audis are known for their luxuriously tailored interiors, and the A7 is as rich as a bespoke suit of clothes. The panel fit, choice of materials and touch of controls are all excellent. Styling details abound through the cabin, such as the way the shape of the speaker grilles in the doors reflects the lines of the armrest.
An eight-inch LCD rises out of the middle of the dash when the car is started, and it contains the readouts for the navigation, audio and telephone. The driver can enter navigation or telephone information with the stroke of a finger using handwriting recognition technology and Audi’s touch pad. The navigation system is equipped with Google Earth, so you can get a true three-dimensional view of your route. The mouse-like control on the centre console is simple to use and has an easy-to-understand interface.
The front seats were as comfortable as they were attractive. The back seat is a bit tight on headroom, and getting in and out requires a bit of caution because of the sloping roof.
Safety features, such as anti-lock brakes, vehicle stability control and side-curtain airbags are standard.
Four years or 50,000 miles with no charge for the first 12-month or 5,000-mile maintenance at an authorised Audi dealership.