By on July 1, 2011

Large four-door cars with the style of a coupe aren’t a recent innovation. But early attempts, like the 1995 Oldsmobile Aurora, failed to captivate car buyers. It fell to Mercedes to launch the “four-door coupe” segment with the 2006 CLS. Though sales have long since dwindled to exotic car levels, back when the CLS was new about 2,000 of them left dealer lots each month. This apparently provided sufficient motivation for other manufacturers to offer their own “four-door coupes.” Volkswagen didn’t stray far from the original with its CC. Audi, on the other hand, has taken a very different approach with the new 2012 A7.

To begin with, Audi appears to have figured that, if you’re going to sweep the roofline nearly to the trailing edge of the car, you might as well make it a hatchback. The American market has rejected large upscale hatchbacks in the past—the Rover 3500, Acura-based Sterling 827, and Merkur Scorpio come to mind—but tastes have broadened in the intervening decades. The Porsche Panamera certainly has its critics, but the car’s hatchback configuration hasn’t figured highly in their critiques. And the BMW 5-Series GT? Its aesthetic shortcomings similarly extend beyond the hatch to the car’s bulky proportions.

If the Audi A7 were a stunning car, few would mind the hatch. Unfortunately, while the A7’s thoroughly tasteful exterior is far more attractive than the Porsche’s or the BMW’s, it’s a conservative design unlikely to inspire doubletakes the way the swoopier CLS did, even still does six years on. In a bid for “coupeness,” the A7’s side windows are frameless and its roofline is a couple inches lower than that of the closely related 2012 Audi A6 sedan (and nearly a half-foot lower than that of the 5-Series GT). Audi’s latest design language, with a focus on crisp horizontal lines, suits the A7’s more balanced proportions much better than it does the A8 sedan’s. A double crease along the shoulder of the car often provides the illusion of a pinstripe. The overall appearance might not inspire passion, but it exudes technical perfection. This car couldn’t be anything but German.

The Audi A7’s interior is similarly very tasteful without making a strong design statement. A line arcs from one door along the instrument panel top to the other door, but you’ll find the same in a relatively pedestrian Buick. Unlike in the first-generation CLS, nothing here seems inspired by classic Jaguars or wooden watercraft. Audi has long been known for the quality of its interiors, but the rest of the industry has been catching up. Notable in their absence: upholstered instrument and upper door panels. The seats’ stitching does not contrast, and their leather isn’t especially soft. The door pulls are, typical of Audis, hard plastic. In general the interior seems of very high quality, but not quite luxurious. The riskiest interior choice: the tested car’s ash trim is minimally finished and has a heavy grain that can actually be felt. I liked it. Others who rode in the car weren’t so sure about the matte finish. Glossy wood is available for them.

An advantage of the sensible design: though not the limo substitute the BMW GT is, there’s nearly as much passenger room inside the Audi A7 as in the related A6. So four adults fit comfortably. The front seats are moderately firm and properly supportive but less cosseting than those in some other luxury cars. They also provide minimal lateral support. Perhaps because this is an A7 and not an S7, no sport buckets or power-adjustable bolsters are offered. On the positive side of the ledger, the headrests adjust fore and aft, a rarity these days. Unlike with the first-generation CLS, contortions aren’t required to get into and out of the rear seat. One functional shortcoming: the rear bench is split by a low, integrated console, so three people cannot sit back there. For a family of five this car won’t work.

The cargo area is constrained by the car’s low tail, but it extends well forward, especially once the second row is folded. A two-piece package shelf effectively seals off the passenger area from the cargo area. It’s not nearly as heavy or overengineered as the bulkhead in the BMW 5-Series GT, but is nevertheless a little fiddly (and also reflects badly in the backlight). After removing it I was easily able to fit a bicycle with the front wheel removed (and probably would have fit it with the wheel attached if loaded in the opposite direction). Up front, the A7 isn’t as accommodating. There’s not enough room in the glove compartment or the center console for my SLR-style camera, so it rolled around the passenger footwell all week.

Some of the Audi A7’s toys impress, others not so much. The LED headlights ($1,400 if ordered a la carte) are the latest thing, but my eyes failed to detect a significant advantage over Xenons. Since they aren’t standard, the units musts be the same size and shape as a conventional headlight. Things will get more interesting when cars are designed around standard LED lights. The 1,300-watt Bang & Olufsen audio system sounds so crisp and so clear, even at high volumes, that its $5,900 price almost seems justified. My old man declared it far superior to the Mark Levinson system in his Lexus LS 460. He was less crazy about the tweeters’ acoustic lenses that remain in their somewhat obtrusive upright position even when the system is turned off. The Internet-connected nav system uses Google maps to display satellite images. A regular nav screen just doesn’t seem sufficient afterwards.

You can also search the Internet for addresses. The MMI system, with a knob, a half dozen or so buttons, and a touchpad that recognizes letters written with a fingertip, is usually easy to operate on the fly, but programming the nav system could be much easier. One ergonomic flaw that continued to confound me at the end of the week: the button to start the engine is located to the right of the shifter. The optional head-up display can include navigation information and night vision warnings (there’s a pedestrian detector), but not a tach or song titles (both of which I enjoyed having in a Buick). The display for the optional night vision system is located between the speedometer and tach, too low to be continuously viewed. The blind spot warning system seems designed to only signal if a car is overtaking you from the rear quarter. If one is parked at a steady speed in your blind spot it assumes you know it’s there. Other such systems light up in a wider range of circumstances. The adaptive cruise control works better than earlier systems; it’s even viable in stop-and-go traffic. Though the A7’s concept and design seem a natural fit for a panoramic sunroof, the roof portal is a standard-sized unit.

Currently only one engine is available in the U.S.-market Audi A7: the same 310-horsepower 3.0-liter supercharged V6 available in the redesigned 2012 A6. Officially the related mill in the Audi S4 kicks out another 23 horsepower, but the A7’s engine feels stronger than its power rating. The six’s quiet, refined character is better suited to the A7 and A6 than the smaller, sportier car. There’s no sensation of boost and no sound from the supercharger, just impressive V8-style torque (the 325 foot-pound peak runs from 2,900 to 4,500 rpm). Sixty arrives in just a bit over five seconds.

The Audi A7’s ZF eight-speed automatic shared with many other luxury cars (and soon some Chryslers) has excellent ratios for quick launches, relaxed highway cruising, and everything in between. It reacts quickly, but shifts are usually noticeable, with the occasional odd bump when braking to a stop (I noticed the same in some BMWs). Europeans get a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automated manual instead. Did Audi judge this transmission insufficiently refined for American luxury car duty?

The 3.0T / automatic powertrain achieves excellent fuel economy for a powerful, 4,200-pound, all-wheel-drive car: the trip computer generally confirmed the 18 city / 28 highway EPA ratings. On one highway run to the airport the car managed nearly 30 mpg, about as good as my much lighter, much less powerful Mazda Protege5. In the suburbs I observed between 15 and 25, depending on the frequency of stops.

When equipped with the optional sport suspension (which lowers the car 0.4 inches) and 20-inch high-performance Yokohama tires, the Audi A7 handles about as sporty as it looks. So supremely competent, and more direct than in the typical luxury car, but short of thrilling. Steering firmness can be set to “comfort,” “dynamic,” or “auto.” The difference between the modes is noticeable. In any mode the steering gets firmer as speeds increase. You need to be travelling 70+ before it feels tight even in “dynamic.” The similar system in the larger Audi A8 feels a little firmer and tighter, if memory serves. Feedback is better in smaller Audis. The A7 feels significantly less nose-heavy than earlier Audis—perhaps because it is, with the differential positioned ahead of the transmission to enable a 54/46 weight distribution. But even with this, the AWD system’s initial 40:60 rearward torque-bias, and a braking system that intervenes to counter understeer the A7’s dynamics aren’t those of a rear-wheel-drive car. The general attitude of the chassis is one of very mild understeer. Power oversteer only happens with an aggressive throttle on loose surfaces.

With the sport suspension at least, the Audi A7’s ride is most decidedly firm, with the occasional jostle, but far from punishing. Noise is more of an issue. Though the A7’s interior certainly isn’t loud, it’s considerably louder than that of other luxury cars. The optional 20-inch tires contribute, especially on concrete; the standard treads should be less noisy. The hatchback configuration might also contribute. But the bottom line is that Audis have tended to suffer from more road noise than other luxury cars, and this remains the case with their latest.

Pricing starts at $60,125, and tops $80,000 when all the boxes are checked (the tested car lacked only heated rear seats). A 535i xDrive Grand Turismo lists for within a few hundred dollars when similarly configured—but you’ll receive a much larger discount with the slow-selling BMW. (The BMW is a quarter-ton heavier, so an argument could be made that the 550i GT is more comparable.) The redesigned 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 4Matic lists for about $12,000 more. TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool indicates that nearly half of the gap can be explained by additional features on the Mercedes, including adaptive shocks, a sophisticated air suspension, various high-tech safety features, and more extensive leather upholstery. Then there’s the matter of the Benz’s much larger engine. With the Mercedes only offered with a V8 (why?), and the Audi only offered with a V6 (for now), the two avoid a direct confrontation. Probably the toughest competition for the A7: an identically-equipped A6 lists for exactly $8,000 less. Since the two cars are very closely related under the skin, this is how much you’re paying for the A7’s sleeker hatchback body.

In the end, the Audi A7 seizes the middle ground between the Mercedes-Benz CLS and the BMW 5-Series GT in both appearance and functionality. It’s more involving than those cars, but much less so than a Porsche Panamera. So buyers who highly prioritize functionality or who buy cars for almost entirely emotional reasons will end up behind the wheel of something other than the Audi. But the entire idea of a “four-door coupe” suggests a desire to have the functionality of a four-door and the styling of a coupe in the same car. The segment is all about compromise. Those seeking an intelligent “both brained” compromise between the excesses of these other cars will find it here.

Audi provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta, an online source of automotive reliability and pricing data.


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71 Comments on “Review: 2012 Audi A7...”


  • avatar
    TEXN3

    Wow! It may be conservative, but I’ll be honest in saying that this is the first Audi that I can honestly say I like and would enjoy owning. The last time I said that about any German car was my folk’s 300E 4matic (I never felt the 02 E430 was as good). The matte wood is a great take on wood trim, I think Infiniti has done this with the new M-series.

    Plus, I love 4-doors with frameless windows (I have two).

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Kudos to Audi for bringing a big luxurious hatch to the US and not jacking up the suspension into some sort of crossover/SUV/CUV thingy. Ya paying attention BMW and Honda? I hope they sell enough to make it worth their while. (I’d look at it seriously but it’s gonna be a long time before I have that sort of money.)

    • 0 avatar

      I couldn’t agree more. I must also admit that I fully expected people to disagree with my styling assessment. The A7 clearly has many fans. Maybe it will inspire a revival of the large four-door hatch?

      Back when I was performing my Ph.D. research within GM (1996-1999) a group of people felt that four-door hatches were about to mount a big comeback once people figured out that they could have much of the functionality of an SUV with the driving dynamics of a regular car. There was even a serious proposal to make the Intrigue replacement (which never happened) and the Pontiac Grand Prix a four-door hatch. GM being GM, we got the 2004 Grand Prix instead. Fold-flat front passenger seat, but otherwise lacking in functionality.

      • 0 avatar
        Flybrian

        “There was even a serious proposal to make the Intrigue replacement (which never happened)”

        I could see that re: the Oldsmobile Profile concept…a gorgeous design through and through.

      • 0 avatar
        mazder3

        An Intrigue hatch would have been beautiful. The Intrigue was one of GMs best looking cars of the 90′s and even though I went through hell with mine, I still love their looks.

        A productionized Profile would have sold a lot better than a Malibu Maxx. Gotta love GM. “Do you want an original swoopy design or a new Renault R16?” “Ooh, R16! So exotic!” *sigh*

      • 0 avatar

        I’d totally forgotten about the Profile concept. Since Wagoner announced the end of Oldsmobile in 2000, did it get much coverage?

        I owned an Intrigue as well, though ours had few problems and none after the warranty ended. I fell in love with the car upon seeing the clay model inside GM’s Design Center back in 1995. The last couple rounds of Oldsmobiles were truly beautiful cars; I still think the brand was the key problem, as “Oldsmobile” sounds antiquated in so many ways. The Intrigue’s chassis needed another round or two of development–the ride and handling were fairly crude even by 1998 standards. But the main problem with the car is that my wife hated the color–white.

        Back in the late 1990s many of the most intelligent people inside GM thought that the conventional four-door sedan was about to undergo a serious decline in market share, much like the two-door coupe and wagon already had. The thinking was that the core of the market would shift to various forms of five-door crossovers and “segment busters.” Hence the push that resulted in the Avalanche, Malibu Maxx, Aztek, Vibe, and Envoy XUV along with a de-emphasis on core sedan models.

        These predictions haven’t panned out, as four-door sedans are very much still with us.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        I would have loved to have seen those proposals for the Intrigue and the GP Hatch! Do you remember the ‘Rageous show car from the late ’90′s? That one really had my attention.

        But, being highly conservative with production cars has been a GM hallmark. Maybe that will change…

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @mazder3: I can understand why the Maxx came out the way it did. Look up the Opel Signum from several years ago. Almost a complete copy, only the Chevy had some styling tweaks to fall more in line with US Chevys looked like.

        Regardless, I miss my old Maxx, and I still miss the mid-sized hatchbacks of the 80′s. I had a Dodge Lancer ES Turbo, which was a great car, due to the convenience of the hatchback. Chevy had the Corsica hatch, Mazda the 626 hatch, and Toyota the Camry hatch (in the first series). I’m probably forgetting a couple.

        But folks in the US, just gotta have that three box profile. (sarcasm) Only the French would like a mid sized hatchback… (/sarcasm)

      • 0 avatar
        mazder3

        @geozinger My three dream vehicles during high school were the Rageous, the Chrysler Citadel and my imaginary Intrigue OSV Estate Wagon. Every few years I find my copy of the Motor Trend with the Rageous prominently on the cover and drool. I can sort of see the resemblance of the Signum to the Maxx but the Signum looks more Vel Satis-like to my eyes. It looks good, though.

        @Michael Karesh I remembered the name but I don’t recall seeing the Profile featured in C/D, R&T, MT or Automobile back when I read them religiously and was a serious Olds fanboy. I think the OSV Intrigue, 442 Alero and O4 concept got all of the ink.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @mazder3: Which issue of Motor Trend is that? I’d love to get a copy.

        Additionally, on my way home from the office this afternoon, I saw a first gen hatchback Camry. I didn’t think that any of them survived the midwest rust monster…

      • 0 avatar
        mazder3

        @geozinger It is the April 1997 issue. OUTRAGEOUS!

        It’s a good one. It also features a comparo between a ’97 and ’67 Corvette 427 and Intrigue vs Camry and Maxima.

        http://img.auctiva.com/imgdata/8/9/9/0/3/4/webimg/465210341_tp.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        DrewK

        I love the idea of a hatch but I sometimes find the execution lacking. So many manufacturers, in turning their sedans into hatches, lop off so much length that what is gained in versatility is lost in “with passengers” cargo capacity. For example, I was able to pick up a family of four and their luggage (barely!) in my 2008 Civic. I don’t think I could have done that in a Golf.

        It also seems to me that the cargo capacity (seats up) is usually inflated by testers and manufacturers alike. I want to know what the car can hold WITH the privacy cover in place, not with luggage piled up to the headliner, blocking my rear vision.

        Hatches with a longer tail may present some styling challenges but the last generation (?) Mazda 6 and this new Audi prove the task is doable.

        When all is said and done, perhaps I’m more of a sport wagon guy. Has me thinking about a Honda Jazz (Fit) Shuttle Si. (!)

  • avatar
    Jack Baruth

    For me, this car is redeemeed by the low Kamm tail. It’s a direct homage to the mk1 Scirocco and looks just as good.

    • 0 avatar

      The low tail reminds me even more of the second-generation MX-6, one of my 1990s favorites, though I doubt Audi designers were paying any homage to a Mazda. I don’t usually include a direct rear view, but did in this case because it is unique among current cars.

      • 0 avatar
        ciddyguy

        You are right,the profile of this car does look much like the old M6 hatch back in the mid 80′s.

        I don’t know if they were ever very popular but I DO recall seeing them around back in the day.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      You’re entitled to your opinion Jack, but that is just wrong, and a mean spirited slight on a beautiful sports coupe. This looks more like the feeble offspring of a step down Hudson and a ’50 Mercury with brandling by Trane Heat Pumps.

  • avatar

    GREAT REVIEW MIKE. I was considering going to Audi to test drive one of these, but, there’s just nothing here that interests me. If I had to choose between this car and the 2012 CLS, I’d take the CLS instead. Looks better, offers more thrust and the interior is vivacious rather than boring.

    I guess that $12,000 premium you pay to upgrade from this to the CLS is worth it. The CLS definitely was smooth and quiet.

    Who knows – maybe I’ll visit Audi this Saturday. Ask to use a demo.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    From every exterior shot I think it’s a sleek distinctively styled car. It’s not in my price range but if it was I would definitely consider it as IMO the styling far exceeds MB & BMW models comparably priced. Has a bit of Jaguar XF styling in the roofline/hatchback/rear end.

  • avatar
    MBsam

    In my eyes the overall shape of the audi is far more futuristic than the CLS which is much more of a typical big sedan in form.

    Also, the assessment of the interior seems strange. Do cars like these NEED to have throwback Jaguar inspiration?? This A7 is all about modernity and it is achieving that in spades. I will say that the plank style oak trim they keep showing in this car is very stunning and yacht inspired. The CLS interior is very blocky and stuffy in comparison with cheap looking shiny wood.

  • avatar
    hachee

    Nice, thorough review – thanks!

    This is the first new Audi in a while since the A5 that I think looks really great – with the exception of the shape of the taillights, specifically the inboard sections. Overall, the execution, proportions and detailing are much better than the A4, A8 and A6. And even though it’s so closely related to the A6, it at least looks fresh. The A6, nice as it is, is just too much more of a good design that’s been with us since 1998. I’ve seen a few A7s on the road in the last few weeks, and they’ve caught my eye.

    I’m not sure why they’ve made it a 4 seater – looks plenty roomy enough to hold 3 back there if you need to.

    I like this a lot more than the new CLS, which has grown on me, but looks a bit all over the map with the crazy character lines and bulked up front end. Sharp still, but just not as good as the original. And you can’t really compare the A7, or anything, really, to the 5GT, because that thing is just a mess.

    • 0 avatar

      The four-seat configuration is the #1 failure with this car. The console is minimal, much more so than the flow-through console in the CLS, so it adds little in terms of either aesthetics or functionality. I suspect that the great majority of potential buyers would rather have a center seat there.

      • 0 avatar
        hachee

        I took a quick look at one of these in the NYC Audi showroom. I sat in the back, and I did happen to notice that the rear console felt particularly cheap, and very unlike what I’ve seen in Audis ever since I had them from the late 80s until a few years ago.

      • 0 avatar
        hreardon

        I don’t see how the four seat configuration can be considered a failure. The Volkswagen CC has (up until now) been a four seater and has been supremely popular with the DINK crowd (dual-income-no-kids).

        This is aimed at the executive/country club set who rarely will be carting around a gaggle of kiddies.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        This is Dad’s car. Mom has a typical Yuppie Truck SUV to drag the sprogs around in. The lack of a middle seat in the back is a complete non-issue.

        IMHO, THIS car is what the new Saab 9-5 should have been like, not the pudgy tank that GM unleashed on the world. The A7 is a 2011 take on the Saab 9000.

      • 0 avatar
        scoobysnax

        The lack of a fifth rear seat is a much, much greater fail than Audi realizes. (I couldn’t buy the car solely for this reason). “For dads or DINKS only” makes little sense to me, since neither of those demographics is demonstrably prejudiced AGAINST a rear bench. Whereas buyers with families, like me, look back there and instantly think of all the things we can’t do: squeeze in a dog, pick up a kid’s friend after practice. And, oh yeah: have more than two children.

        I know, I know: I should buy an A6. But at this price point, why would buyers like me “settle”? I love the look, dig the hatch, etc. In fact, I’ll probably buy the first of these sport-hatches that seats five. Hope it’ll be an Audi … if not, they’ll have lost a golden opportunity to lock up this segment.

      • 0 avatar
        wifen3kids

        I and 3 friends all have 3 kids and would lease/purchase A7′s in a heartbeat but for the lack of the 5 seat option. Shocking oversight with config/trim options. This was a no-brainer replacement for my XC90, but now will go back to Volvo or probably visit BMW.

        Styling is impeccable, and the ride felt confident. Such a shame…wake up Audi of America!

  • avatar
    Flybrian

    Thank you for acknowledging the pre-eminance of the Aurora as the first modern 4-door ‘coupe’!

    -Aurora owner.

    • 0 avatar

      Happy to. I had the privilege of listening in as GM designers discussed the first Aurora. It ran into reviewer and buyer resistance because both groups were disappointed that the interior wasn’t very roomy given the car’s exterior dimensions. The designers wished that people would compare it to large coupes rather than large sedans, as they had envisioned it as a replacement for the Toronado, with styling the top priority.

      Why did the CLS’s much much serious functional shortcomings get a pass where the Aurora’s did not? A failure by GM to properly communicate? Or perhaps the Aurora was simply too big to be plausible as a coupe? The Audi and Mercedes are about ten inches shorter.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Or perhaps the Aurora was simply too big to be plausible as a coupe?

        IDK, GM actually built a traditional 2-door coupe on the G-body platform and the Mark Viii was actually slightly bigger than the Olds.

        I think I’d go with “failure to communicate” because I never knew at the time that GM wanted the Aurora to be a Toronado replacement.

      • 0 avatar
        mazder3

        Failure to communicate. I know Popular Mechanics talked about the Aurora being a Toro replacement circa 1993. Also, The Riviera was the same length as the Mark VIII (207″) and the Aurora was two inches shorter than both.

      • 0 avatar

        Notice that both the Riv and Mark are now extinct. So they hardly constitute proof that 207″ wasn’t too long for a coupe.

        Note that the longest semi-mass production coupe currently available in the US, the Mercedes CL-Class, is 200.6 inches long.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        You see, a 4 door coupe type of car would naturally be a bit smaller on the inside. It’s not easy to pull it off. It not well executed, it will be too small on the inside, or too large on the outside, or both. Maybe MB/BMW or Toyota/Honda can do it, but not GM.

        GM vehicles are typically smaller inside for the same exterior size. Or have larger exterior dimensions for the same interior space. Just compare Impala to any other “large” sedan in the market (Accord, Avalon …) Why? I can only guess that their design and/or manufacturing capability is inferior. That is OK if the price is lower and they focus on SUVs and trucks where packaging isn’t a big deal. But trendy 4 door coupes? No thanks!

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        In the case of the Impala the problem is wheelbase (or overhang, depending on perspective). A lot of that is result of the age of platform: it’s a stretched and modernized version of the Lumina’s bones, and trades simplicity and cost of manufacture for packaging.

        The “less space inside” really only applies to that car; the Malibu and Cruze aren’t bad at all (length-wise) and the Aveo is actually quite well-packaged. It’s also why the W-Body dies in favour or Epsilon-2 soon; it’s running up against it’s limits.

        Chrysler had a similar problem with the LH cars: to meet guidelines for safety the overhang would have gotten extreme (and the Intrepid and Concorde were already huge).

  • avatar
    MikeAR

    A couple of things stand out to me, it’s just my opinion but the Aurora was a better looking car, at least as far as I can remember. The other is the weight. How did Audi get it down to 4200 lbs.? The Chrysler 300 and its other platform mates are heavier than that and the Camaro is just a couple hundred pounds lighter. Was Audi able to knock the weight off or are our car makers just that sloppy and uncaring about weight savings?

    • 0 avatar

      The A7′s body structure includes a very large amount of aluminum, to the point where they consider it a aluminum/steel hybrid. This costs far more than Chrysler and Chevrolet can afford given their cars’ lower prices.

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    I just don’t ‘get’ this car.
    It costs EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS more than an A6. and you have to give rear head room, a rear seat, cargo space, and significant rear visibility, which the reviewer did not seem to comment upon.
    Does it look better than a sedan? that’s a matter of personal aesthetics.
    Is it an $8000 ‘stupid tax’? Probably also a personal matter, but everyone I see driving one of these things will be noted as a fool in my mind.

    • 0 avatar

      Audi will be happy to sell you an A6 if the A7′s sportier appearance isn’t worth eight grand to you. Quite a trick, isn’t it, to be able to charge so much extra for a bodystyle that most Americans associate with economy cars?

    • 0 avatar
      Sundowner

      I think the expression for the 21st century should be “The emperor has no rear visibility”

      • 0 avatar
        mtymsi

        My guess is that potential A7 buyers won’t be comparing it to the A6 and won’t view the A7 as merely an $8k more expensive version of the A6. I think the styling of the A7 will attract buyers that would not have considered an Audi. I don’t think the four passenger capacity will be a drawback either as most of the time it will be the driver and perhaps a passenger and occasionally four people. By definition in the A7′s price range you’re talking about wheel heeled buyers that would own another higher passenger capacity vehicle if they had a need for one.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        And his knees in his face because the rear seat cushion is on the floor to allow the stupid drooping roofline to clear his head.

      • 0 avatar
        mtymsi

        Take a look the next time you’re driving and see how often highline sedans have rear seat passengers. Maybe one out of every 15-20. Most likely a buyer of an A7 won’t even consider rear seat comfort because that’s not where they’ll be sitting.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I finally saw my first 6000 SUX look-alike Jaguar XJ last week. It was chauffeur driven. Two of my friends had their hearts broken by E38 ownership. One of them bought the sport model and probably didn’t consider the back seat that important. The other was purchased by a semi-retired couple who picked the 740iL, because passengers are important. Who do you suppose these people want to impress more than their friends? And their friends won’t be impressed after having their clothes wrinkled and stretched while being pretzeled into the back of a ’4 door coupe.’ Even if you often see big premium sedans without back seat passengers, these things are often bought with thoughts of taking a foursome to the golf course or another couple to dinner. It is probably more rational than buying a Range Rover in case you need to off road.

      • 0 avatar
        mtymsi

        OK, you got me on that one, what is a 6000 SUX?

        I’m guessing it was a LWB XJ.

        I think the demographic for the A7 is going to preclude rear seat considerations. Just my guess, we’ll see.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        The 6000 SUX was a ‘futuristic’ ultimate detroit built luxury car in Robocop. Designed as a joke about the US manufacturers unwillingness to downsize.

      • 0 avatar
        mazder3

        I thought that the 6000 SUX was Ford ripping on GM. Ford provided the vehicles for Robocop and Pontiac at that time was producing the 6000.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        Yes, the name was a ripping on the pontiac, but I believe it was the movie guys who named it, not Ford.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    First off, I have to say I’ll never be in the market for anything more than an everyday Ford, Chevy or Chrysler. I simply have no use for luxury vehicles of any type.

    Now, having stated my position, I really like this car. It is beautiful, seemingly well-proportioned, appears quite comfortable and looks to be interesting to drive.

    The semi-hatch makes the lack of a traditionally-shaped trunk easily accessible, so that’s a plus. I do have concerns about the lowered roofline. After all, who buys cars like these? I suppose a young professional, but I see older owners in their late 40′s to 60′s, and with many, there may be challenges of getting in and out of the car. Me? at 60, I have no problem with my MX5, top up or down, but, not bragging, I’m in fairly good shape and intend to stay that way, if not improve.

    What I fail to understand is the “four-door coupe” phenomenon. Anything that detracts from the utility aspect of a four-door vehicle diminishes reasons for me owning one. I do understand the aero-necessity(?) for fuel economy, but to this degree is it necessary? Or does “fashion” dictate the final appearance, utility be hanged?

    The main reason I have to be concerned with such things is that I require as much visibility as possible (yes, our MX5 with the top up is a challenge!) due to my left eye being legally blind. Other than that, it goes against my grain to buy what should be a roomy car, as it has four doors, and it’s not that roomy due to low head space, especially as it appears in the rear seat area.

    Am I dismissing this car and the reasons for its styling? For me, yes, but for others, it may be right up their alley, and that’s why we have choices.

    Now, as the car has frameless side glass, if they would remove that B pillar – we just may have to talk! (you knew this was coming!)

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    I’ve learned two things from this review.
    First, the A5 which is a real beauty, was probably both the first and last attempt Audi did on a really beatiful car. (current A6 and first R8 wasn’t too bad, but still not enough)
    Second, I really miss my Ford Scorpio. Which was offcourse not first (Rover Sd1 was first, forgot that), launched in 85, an with the best rear legroom in any European sedan/hatchback ever. (lwb cars don’t count, and a regular S-class wasn’t even close, my mate who owned a ’89 420S got jealous when I opened my rear doors.) Headroom was not great if you’re much more than 6 feet tall though.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    The A7 is an example of what Audi is able to accomplish with its MLP component system: very affordably develop niche models to fill in the blanks.

    Personally, while the new A6 is very nice looking and the new A8 is a baller, both are pretty boring in my book. Were I in that market, I’d totally pick the A7.

    My wife, admittedly one of the least car-interested people on the planet, did a double take two days ago as we passed one with the LED headlamps. She swung around in the passenger seat and, almost startled, said “oh my God, what was that? It’s incredible!”

    Based on my conversations with a few dealer friends, the A7 has been a big head turner since it went on sale about two months ago. Audi was looking for something to catch peoples’ attention, and this car definitely does it in a way that BMW wishes that abortion of 5-Series GT could.

  • avatar
    ellomdian

    Needs Moar S7. Give the CLS AMG a sparring partner, and see what happens in 3 years ;)

    I for one REALLY like Matte wood. It’s a premier option on most BMW’s, and it can be downright gorgeous. There is of course the small matter of being higher maintenance, but if you think it looks good on dark wood, you have to see a nice deep grain on “unfinished” lighter woods in a car.

  • avatar
    PintoFan

    Glad to see that VAG is cheaping out Audi just as much as they did Volkswagen, at least in regard to the interiors. But of course, you don’t get a reduction in price here.

    We already have the archetype for beigemobiles; I submit to you that we create a new class, the steelmobile. Steelmobiles are very serious affairs, luxury or near-luxury cars with an abundance of brushed aluminum trim and black leather, slab-sided and forgettable exterior styling, and a general sober and uninspiring feel to their performance, no matter how good it might be. Audi embodies the steelmobile, but the other German competition has similar examples (E-class 4matic, 535 X-drive, etc.) The target market is usually orthodontists, actuaries and the like- people with money who want something “luxurious,” but not stylish or exciting in any way. This car is perfect for them.

  • avatar
    Durishin

    Saw one yesterday in Providence while sitting on the street at a cafe’. STUNNING! And – as earlier – kudos to Audi for a hatch that is at sedan-level to the ground.

    Rimless windows? Finally, a suitable upgrade to my Spec. B!

  • avatar
    Advo

    Thanks for the warning about the blind spot system. I would have assumed that it would respond to anything in that area whether moving or not.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      What is this “blind spot” thing that people speak of, anyway? Am I to believe there’s some way for a vehicle to be in the adjacent lane without being visible either in my mirror or through my front side windows?

      Great review, Michael. That car is very pretty to my eyes.

  • avatar
    Driver7

    Good review – however, I do take issue with the comments on the styling.

    The A7 is the first Audi sedan in a while to escape the Curse of the Blob, i.e., the excessively curvy, blobby forms of the A4 and A6. The design may borrow too much from Jaguar – but moves Audi in the right direction.

    While it’s unlikely there’s any connection, the rear reminds me a bit of the second-gen Dodge Intrepid, one of the best-styled American cars of the ’90s.

  • avatar
    CraigSu

    I’m surprised there haven’t been any comparisons to the Aston Martin Rapide. Too much difference in price, perhaps?

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    On the issue of rear seat head room. There are two things I have noticed with modern hatch design. One is that the actual roof line is higher than it looks. Check the increase in mettle from the top of the door line towards the back in the side profile.
    Secondly the rear seats are further forward than one would assume. Look were the rear head rests are in the rear 3/4 photo.
    I saw these tricks first on the Renault’s. Its a kind of sneaky way of getting great looks and retaining usable rear space.
    I love the design of this car. Audi have nailed this one fair and square.

  • avatar
    JJ

    I like the nose a lot better than the A8′s and A6′s. I also like that the front overhang isn’t as humongous as it was on previous Audis and still is on the new A8 and this new A6/7 interior looks quite nice in the right colors.

    Other than that, I don’t really care for it. I’d rather have the CLS or the upcoming BMW Grancoupe (quit calling that abomination that is the 5 GT anything that even comes close to coupe please, it’s not and it’s not intended to be).

    It’s mostly because I agree with the poster above who makes the ‘steelmobile’ analogy to Toyodas beigemobile. It’s exactly what Audi is IMO, an inoffensive, über-bland luxury car for people who like the idea of owning a nice car but are not really into cars and hence buy into the marketing. It’s like the German Lexus, except that Lexus at least usually offers RWD.

    As long as VW refuses to let Audi develop less noisy, RWD platforms, I wouldn’t consider buying one past the A5.

  • avatar
    saponetta

    What a homerun for Audi. I am seeing tons of these on the road. The car is absolutely beautiful.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    Great review as usual Mike. The interior of the original CLS was a massive improvement over the junky plastic Benz interiors of the early ’00s, and was really their best at the time. The S and CL really were not impressive on the inside until their most recent redesigns. The electronics were standard E fare though, very dated compared to the then new iDrive and MMI systems.

    I actually think the new CLS interior is a step backwards from that. It’s nowhere close to the current CL interior in terms of luxury, and it has that throwback, blocky and square look that MB is using lately that I don’t understand. I also think the exterior design is too doughy and far too busy.

    A request for your future reviews: can you carry an SPL meter so you can actually report (and compare) objective noise from one car to another? I noticed a big improvement in subjective noise when I switched my Audi’s tires to P-Zero Neros from the OEM tires. Now I think it’s comparable to other luxury cars I’ve been in.

  • avatar

    I think the design is one of the bolder moves by Audi, other than the R8, in recent years and I have to give them credit for that. It seems Audi purposely builds these niche vehicles that do not directly compete with any other model. And this seems to be why the American market really has a hard time understanding their marketing strategy. The offerings stateside always seems to be aimed at the the low hanging fruit. The base models that sell well compared to the lower volume but higher performance offerings. Couple that with terrible reliability, a firm ride, and a handsome price and you are left with those that just have to have it based on looks.

  • avatar
    Dan R

    Audi does Jaguar XF. Jag is better.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Any photos of the trunk open and the seats folded? I’d like to see how much can fit back there, and how large the opening is.

    I loved my Saab 9-3′s ability to swallow cargo, but even moreso I loved how easy it was to load up. Compared to a wagon, you can very easily lift very awkwardly-shaped stuff (bikes, a futon mattress and frame, four fully populated Cisco 6509s on one horrifically memorable occasion) into the rear because of the absolutely massive opening.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    It is very pretty.
    Now knock $30,000 off.
    Then it will be awesome!

  • avatar
    outback_ute

    I think the A5 sportback is a pretty compelling alternative, I saw one the other week and they are also pretty impressive in the flesh, with a bit more character to the shoulder line as per the coupe. Also 10″ shorter on just under an inch shorter wheelbase, and 400lb lighter.

  • avatar
    fttp

    Saw one today. Stunning, except they blew the back end.

  • avatar
    voyageur

    The Blindspot Flashing does occur when clicker engaged and vehicle is at same speed as your vehicle.
    Author Michael Karesh had misinformation about how function works.


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