After I went to California and induced some dude at Toyota to loan me a Hot Lava Orange Scion FR-S earlier in the month, I figured I’d see if Audi’s PR types had forgotten how I compared the R8 to my hooptiefied ’92 Civic. Sure enough, Audi’s institutional memory proved to have some threadbare spots, and so I was able to arrange for the use of an Audi A7 for my trip to California for the Vodden the Hell Are We Doing 24 Hours of LeMons at Thunderhill Raceway. That meant a lot of rural highway driving, a lot of loading of race equipment into the cargo area, and exactly zero pushing-the-edge-of-the-performance-envelope 11/10ths-tyle driving. We’ll follow up Mr. Karesh’s impressions of the A7 from last year with a few of my own. (Read More…)
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.
Audi has just revealed its new A7 Sportback, a “four-door coupe” in the European fashion that slots between Audi’s A6 and A8 sedans. The A7 will debut in Europe this fall, starting around €50,000, and will likely launch in the US sometime next year with the S4’s 3.0 supercharged V6 making 300hp. Which makes the A7 something of a larger S4 (or smaller A8) for fashion victims, a general strategy Audi largely got right with its A5 Sportback. The big question going into today’s reveal: would Audi’s stylists be able to pen a distinctive enough vehicle to differentiate the A7 from its closely-packed siblings. Based on our first peek, we’d say they pretty much pulled it off, as the A7 looks sharp enough to hang with the Jaguars, Panameras and Quattroportes of the world. But just how many sales will be pulled into Audi by a cab-rearward take on the A8’s perhaps overly-bland looks still remains very much to be seen.
Having a hard time understanding the stream of inexplicable niche products coming out of the German automakers recently? Mercedes isn’t about to make things any easier. According to the latest print edition of Auto Motor und Sport, Mercedes has fallen so far down the segment-busting rabbit hole, it’s planning a “Shooting Brake” wagon version of its already-confusing four-door coupe, the CLS. Intended, of course, to compete with the BMW 5GT and Audi A7. Look for a concept inspired by this 2008 ConceptFascination study to debut at this fall’s Paris Auto Show. Then expect Audi and BMW’s designers to drop even more acid and talk their bosses into producing a landaulet-roofed, seven-door, MPV-coupe. You know, just to see if Mercedes makes one too.