With the growing number of four-door coupes being introduced in recent years, it was rather disappointing that Audi decided not to offer its A5 Sportback in the U.S., but all was forgiven when the sleeker and sexier 2012 Audi A7 went on sale in May. While the A5 Sportback would have surely cannibalized sales from the A6 sedan, the new Audi A7 is positioned in the line-up above the mid-size A6 but far more affordable than the A8 flagship sedan. So how well does Audi do in splitting the difference between the recently redesigned A6 and A8 sedans? Audi aimed to show us by dropping off the stylish five-door for this weeklong road test and review. More than just a looker, the Audi A7 also offers drivers innovative technology and amazing handling and performance.
2012 Audi A7 Road Test and Review
Part Hatchback. Part coupe. All Luxury Sedan
2012 Audi A7 Road Test and Review
2012 Audi A7: Pricing and Trim Levels
Assembled in Neckarsulm, Germany, the 2012 Audi A7 has a starting MSRP of $59,250, and it is broken down into three main option packages: Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige. The A7 used for this review came with the Prestige trim which adds a sportier appearance and more standard technology to go with a higher starting price of $65,580. Factoring in a handful of à la carte options and the $875 destination charge, this 2012 Audi A7 Prestige 3.0 TFSI had an as-tested price of $68,830. Even at this price, the A7 still comes in well below the starting price of its main rival, the $71,300 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class, as well as many other luxury four-door coupes on the market.
2012 Audi A7: Competition
In addition to the segment-starting CLS, the 2012 Audi A7 also competes against the BMW 5 Series GT and, to some degree, the Jaguar XJ. With this segment of vehicle geared toward those looking for a sportier, unconventionally designed sedan, four-door coupes are a niche segment, but the A7 has come on strong in its first four months on the market. Having only been on sale since May, it is impressive that the A7 is already outselling the established CLS-Class having sold 3,404 units from May through August while the second-generation CLS has sold 2,797 through the first eight months of the year; BMW does not break out sales of the 5 Series GT from other 5 Series models.
2012 Audi A7: Exterior
Aside from Aston Martin Rapide, the 2012 Audi A7 is probably one of the most attractive four-door coupes on the market, and it looks good from every angle. The front of the A7 incorporates signature Audi design elements such as the trapezoidal grille and the scowling, LED-trimmed headlights, but the coupe naming comes from the sleek roofline that flows all the way back to the edge of the decklid. The A7’s lines are so smooth that it’s almost a shame when the retractable rear spoiler deploys at 80 miles per hour (or it can be engaged by the driver using a button on the center stack). For buyers looking to add to the sporty look of the A7, the $6,300 Prestige Package brings with it a more aggressive exterior featuring S-Line components like a unique front fascia devoid of fog lights, lower side sills, a dark rear fascia air diffuser insert and, normally, 19-inch wheels with all-season tires. For an extra $1,200, this Midnight Blue test car was equipped with 20-inch, ten-spoke wheels wrapped in summer performance tires – well worth the cost for the added styling and performance.
2012 Audi A7 Review: Interior
Like the CLS – and other VW Group four-door coupes like the Volkswagen CC and Porsche Panamera – the 2012 Audi A7features a four-passenger seating configuration which might be a big downfall for consumers, but what the A7 lacks in seating, it more than makes up for with technology. Two of the key tech highlights in the A7 are the new Audi connect system and the MMI Touch – both standard on the A7 Premium Plus and A7 Prestige models. Audi connect brings vehicle connectivity and information to a whole new level with features like Wi-Fi connectivity for up to eight devices and navigation system that can show Google Earth maps and has a helpful “local search” feature that can research locations and give directions. The Google maps can seem kind of gimmicky at times – especially in everyday driving where a normal map is easier to read – but it allows for easy route guidance to POIs. As for Audi’s new MMI Touch, a main control and four outer buttons are still used, but a small touchpad now allows drivers to write out letters for a destination, enter telephone numbers or choose audio stations (depending on which mode the touchpad is in).
While the A7’s exterior styling helps it stand out, the look and feel of the interior would be almost indistinguishable from the A6 if it weren’t for the four-passenger seating configuration. Key highlights include the rich Eucalyptus wood accents, the pop-up navigation display screen and the sporty, four-spoke steering wheel; this test car came with the Velvet Beige leather seats and dark carpet. The sloped roofline gives the A7 its unique style, but it also hinders rear-seat headroom to much less than a conventional sedan. Fortunately, the frameless doors prevent the cabin from feeling claustrophobic, and Audi still manages to keep the interior luxury-car quiet. Compared to the CLS-Class, the A7’s rear seat offers better headroom and legroom, while the Prestige Package also increases rear-seat comfort with a four-zone climate control system. The hatchback design even allows the A7 to swallow up a surprising amount of cargo with up to 24.5 cubic feet of cargo volume with the rear seats in place and a wide, flat load floor with the seats folded down.
2012 Audi A7: Interior Packages and Options
The $6,330 Prestige Package can add quite a bit to the 2012 Audi A7’s total price, but for buyers looking for more comfort and luxury, it is money well spent. In addition to the more aggressive exterior, the A7 Prestige also comes standard with an upgraded Bose surround sound system with HD Radio, four-zone climate control, ventilated front seats, push-button start, power-adjustable steering column and ambient LED cabin lighting. This test car was also equipped with the $500 Audi side assist option which uses LEDs built into the side mirrors to warn the driver if there is a car in his or her blind spot. Adaptive cruise control and night vision are also available on the 2012 A7, but did not come on the car used for this review.
2012 Audi A7: Powertrain and Fuel Economy
All 2012 Audi A7 models carry the 3.0T badge which designates Audi’s 3.0-liter TFSI supercharged V-6. This direct-injected engine is the same one found in the Audi S4, but it has been detuned to 310 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque. Audi’s quattro permanent all-wheel drive system and an eight-speed automatic transmission help route all that power to the ground giving the A7 impressive acceleration from zero to 60 miles per hour in 5.4 seconds with an electronically limited top speed of 130 mph. Although the A7’s performance does not disappoint, those looking for a little more excitement can look forward to the Audi S7 that was recently unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. Even with its impressive performance, the Audi A7 still returns good fuel economy with EPA-rated estimates of 18 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.
2012 Audi A7: Driving Impressions
Factoring in the rear-biased all-wheel drive system and its wide, low stance, the 2012 Audi A7 is as enjoyable to drive as it is to look at for just about anyone’s driving style. Those looking for a nimble sports sedan won’t be disappointed while those looking for a more refined ride in everyday driving expected from a $60,000 luxury sedan will be satisfied with the A7 as well. Audi manages this difficult balance by using the Audi Drive Select system which uses four modes (comfort, auto, dynamic and individual) to tailor the car’s performance, handling and comfort to a driver’s choice. We spent most of our time in the car’s “dynamic” mode which tightened up the steering and throttle response as well as held each gear a little longer, but driver’s who don’t want to give up the smooth luxury sedan ride will still enjoy the A7 with the “comfort” mode.
2012 Audi A7: Safety
The 2012 Audi A7has yet to receive crash-test ratings from either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). All 2012 Audi A7 models come with standard safety features that include six airbags, active front head restraints, electronic brake-force distribution with brake assist, quattro permanent all-wheel drive, four-wheel anti-lock disc brake system, Electronic Stability Program (ESP) and tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS).
2012 Audi A7: Final Thoughts
Part hatchback, part coupe and part sedan, the all-new 2012 Audi A7 is an exciting vehicle. Although the Mercedes CLS can be credited with starting the whole four-door coupe craze, the Audi A7 is probably the best interpretation of this design language yet fitting in nicely between the A8 and the equally all-new A6. If ever there were a car that could make luxury mid-sizers like the elegant Mercedes-Benz E-Class or the athletic Infiniti M look downright frumpy, it’s Audi’s new A7. From a styling standpoint, this is probably one of the best-looking cars on the road, but the A7 is also noteworthy when it comes to the performance, comfort and technology. There is even a little practicality built into the A7 with sloped hatchback rear end giving the car plenty of available cargo room.
2012 Audi A7 Review: Pros and Cons
- great interpretation of “four-door coupe” styling
- innovative cabin tech
- hatchback design allows for more cargo space than a conventional sedan
- poor headroom and visibility for rear occupants
- harsher ride than most mid-size luxury sedans
- pricey option packages
Audi provided the vehicle for this review
Photos by Jeffrey N. Ross