By on September 27, 2012

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.
First of all, the idea of a car with a bootsplash screen when you fire it up— not to mention the 10-second delay before all systems are ready— tells you more than any single cue that we’ve gone past the era of computer-enhanced vehicles and into the computers-on-wheels era. I haven’t looked at the wiring diagram (i.e., I didn’t feel like spending a couple of months navigating the Audi bureaucratic labyrinth in order to avoid spending a bunch of my own cash for a shop manual), but I’ll bet this car boasts plenty of multiplexed control systems. We’ll get back to some of the implications of this a bit later in this review, because right now I want to talk about good old-fashioned switches.
See, regardless of what goes between a switch and the device it controls, be it a length of wire or a digital control unit, you still have a brute-force physical electrical contact that a human touch will control. The A7 has a bewildering quantity of switches available to the driver; in fact, it has so many that I made bad LeMons drivers count them as a penalty during the race.
So, what happens when schmutz gets into the switch contacts, when corrosion and normal mechanical wear take their toll a few years down the line? I’m not saying that Volkswagen Group products have a well-documented history of electrical-system glitches stretching back decades, because that gets us into anecdotal territory best explored by our readers, but the sheer number of such opportunities for failure here means that maddening electrical gremlins may crop up early on in the A7 ownership experience. Right, that’s not what new-car reviews are for, so let’s move on.
When I got this car, I was all set to make a very clever comparison between Apple and Audi, based on my observations that the crossover between owners of products from both companies is so high. However, that idea crashed like a Quadra 650 showing a Sad Mac when I saw the head-spinning complexity of this car’s controls and displays; take a look at about 10% of the information available to the driver under ordinary conditions. Steve Jobs figured out that ordinary users of electronics (e.g., your grandma) don’t want complexity. They don’t even want on/off controls, it turns out, because they don’t want to learn new stuff. If Jobs had consulted on the design of this car, it would have about six controls and one big primary-color gauge showing Driving Situation Quality or some such Cupertinonian metric.
However, the thing that Audi products do have in common with Apple products is compelling design. The A7 is beautiful, of course (just as the packaging around your new Macbook is beautiful), and it features intimidatingly correct ergonomics throughout. At this point, we need to think about the person the A7 buyer wants to be; in my mind, this person is a man with cruelly small rimless glasses who works as a “creative” in some discipline that requires him to be conversant in the work of impenetrable philosophers like Lacan, while demonstrating insider knowledge of obscure facets of urban popular culture (say, the acid house scene of Minsk). He lives in an edgy neighborhood in some unearthly expensive city (Helsinki, Singapore, etc.) and he experiences physical pain when exposed to a piece of bad design. In other words, the kind of guy who always made me feel like a total ignorant, mouth-breathing schlub in grad school and even today reduces me to a state of excessive italicization. I’m not saying this is what actual Audi buyers really are, any more than real-world Corvette buyers match the idealized Corvette owner (no, we’re not going there… this time).
Unfortunately, Audi’s need to reduce the level of existential terror in its target demographic while keeping the sticker price of the A7 below six figures (the car I drove lists at $68,630) means that there’s a lot of cool-looking shit that gives off a strong “I’m gonna break” vibe. Say, the plastic covers that hide the unsightly hinge mechanism on the hatch; 15 years ago, when deconstructionist thought was the postmodern flavor-of-the-month, you could get away with mechanical innards showing. Not today.
Still, though, we get back to that good-design thing wherever one looks in the A7. These little tie-downs in the cargo area would get a lot of use, were I to daily-drive an A7. Yeah, sure, they’re more fragile than they need to be, but Audi seems to believe their drivers would feel that their senses had been flayed with an electrified cat-o-nine-tails if they caught sight of some dowdy J.C. Whitney-grade tie-down.
The cargo area beneath the hatch is usefully large; in fact, I was able to fit more LeMons Supreme Court bribe booze in here than I was able to fit in the ’11 Escalade.
The power hatch was kind of neat at first, but then became utterly maddening once I realized that all opening and closing of the hatch must be done by the car, at its own pace. When I tried to close it manually and felt the car refuse to allow such manhandling, I felt shamed. Shamed like I was some gristly sunburned toothless uranium prospector in Nevada bashing the tailgate of my ’61 IHC Travelall, after rinsing my bloody gums with a deep swill of generic vodka out of a plastic bottle, and a stern German engineer caught me at it and frowned sadly at the spectacle.
My feelings of disapproval in the view of imaginary cold-eyed German engineers just grew as the weekend with the A7 progressed, because this car knows better. For example, those who read LeMons Judge Magazine’s review of the Escalade Platinum Hybrid may recall that the Cadillac did pretty well as the mobile sound unit in the Macho Man Penalty. Not so with the A7. I cued up “Macho Man” on the iPod, made the miscreant drivers don the hats and mustaches, and began a disco-dancing tour of the Thunderhill Raceway paddock. The E30-driving Macho Men weren’t putting their hearts into it, so I did what any self-respecting LeMons Supreme Court Judge does at that moment: popped open the driver’s door to harangue them. Unfortunately, the programmers of the A7 decided— in the name of sicherheit— that opening the driver’s door should apply the parking brake, and the Macho Men ended up staggering into the Audi’s rear bumper. After that, the car remained bitter and resentful over my scandalous breach of common sense, ignoring the gearshift’s position, turning down the music, and so on. Naturally, this got me to thinking about the mischief that could be caused by nihilistic hackers, were they to get into the A7’s code; we’ll discuss those possibilities in a later post.
Now that we’ve veered into (or at least glanced off of) the subject of the sound system, the A7’s standard “Multi-Media Interface” setup sounds very good and has a less frustrating interface than most systems I’ve seen in my somewhat limited experience of 21st-century automotive entertainment-system technology. There’s less lag between input and result than in most such systems (though a $150 smartphone manages to have no delay in its touchscreen input). The only real weakness is the lack of serious audio power; I felt that I needed to listen to a lot of bass-heavy Massive Attack to really get into the European-ness of the A7, but even top volume wasn’t loud enough. I suspect that the system is capable of pushing more watts through its excellent-quality speakers, but that an invisible German safety monitor knows that excessively loud music is deleterious to one’s health and keeps audio levels down.
On the plus side, the interior of the A7 looks gorgeous. Everything you see and/or touch is made of top-shelf materials, and the overall effect is of being in the totally sensible (yet gangsta-grade) office of the Lacan-quoting dude with the Cruelly Small Glasses.
Just look at the visual composition of this door panel (and pay no mind to the 29 electrical contacts in all those switches that will spend their lives enduring temperature extremes, vibration, and moisture).
The back seat works as well, though I didn’t get a chance to put any very tall passengers back there. On the subject of comfort, the A7 delivers a reasonably smooth ride for such a sporty-handling machine, but the road noise is pretty bad when you’re on not-so-smooth rural two-laners (as I was for much of the weekend). In fact, the tire noise was so loud I had to wonder whether there might have been some problem with the tires on this 11,000-mile press car.
I didn’t come close to flogging the hell out of this thing and learning all that race-y stuff that automotive journalists are supposed to write about, but the A7 certainly is a powerful and asphalt-gripping beast.
The 310-horse supercharged V6 and 8-speed automatic deliver respectable and usable power, roaring safely through even the hairiest passing situations involving drunks towing horse trailers behind space-saver-spare-equipped F-150s on State Highway 162. Because only Alfa Romeo seems capable of making a V6 that sounds great, you don’t get the kind of engine noise that a good V8 or I6 gives you, but the power is real. In 345 miles of mostly highway driving, I achieved a genuine 23.35 miles per gallon (of 91-octane), which is about five MPGs better than I’d expect from a biggish car with this kind of acceleration.
The navigation system, with its Google Maps integration, manages to be both cool-looking and helpful, though the interface is as busy as everything else the A7 driver sees.
Could I see driving the A7 every day? Sure, I’d be willing to put up with the Safety Police overseers and road noise in exchange for the blown V6 power, all-wheel-drive, and cargo-hauling practicality. However, I’d be sweating over the complexity and expecting hefty annual maintenance bills once the car hit about age four.

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

  • avatar

    Is this car really that much different from its competition, such as the Mercedes CLS-Class, in technical complexity?

    We’ve had power window and mirror controls on the drivers’ side doors of even cheap cars for years now, and as far as I can tell they haven’t caused people that much grief.

    I’d be curious to know how this compares to the CLS, now that both have V8s.


    • 0 avatar

      In some major ways, yes. In some major ways, no.

      It IS different in that while not handsome, the Mercedes is palatable, while this Audi is one of the most God-awful, hideous beasts that can be found on dealer lots currently, and serves as a literal textbook example of non-fluidity in design that has ever befit any modern passenger car (it literally looks like VAG took two completely different TYPES of cars, split them down the middle, and then welded the front of the one to the rear of the other; and what an ugly front and rear did they weld).

      Just look at that very first photo (the side profile); LOOK AT IT! It’s walleye vision meets the Humpback Whale.

      That is all.

      • 0 avatar

        From some angles, the A7 looks quite attractive. From others, it looks like a squashed VW Dasher. To *my* eyes, of course.

      • 0 avatar

        Lol in my opinion this is the most gorgeous car in the whole line up, but then again I have a great weakness for lift backs/fivedoor sedans/fastbacks.

        I feel that most people are going to disagree with you

      • 0 avatar

        I’m with tatracitroensaab, for me it is between the A5 and A7 for the most attractive Audi, and the A7 slightly outdoes the A5.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m with you guys. A5 and A7 looks awesome for current model cars.

        I’m surprised about the road noise. In my admittedly limited passenger seat time in an A7, what struck me was how quiet it was compared to both the Panamera, and even an S63.

    • 0 avatar

      The CLS is considerably faster and feels considerably better inside – unless you’re an Audi Interior fanboy.

      I’m not an Audi fan, but the A7 is the one car they’ve got that could have made me a buyer.

      What attracts me to this car most is the retracting spoiler…the interior ergonomics annoy me. I absolutely hate the MMI and much perfer COMAND.

  • avatar

    ““However, I’d be sweating over the complexity and expecting hefty annual maintenance bills once the car hit about age four.””

    A 5 year old A6 has .68 repair trips per year vs. a Civic with .23. With an A6 you have an extra repair trip every two years vs. the Civic.

    The quality gap just isn’t as big as you seem to believe.

    • 0 avatar

      True on the averages. One thing we haven’t tried to put a number on (at least not yet) is how much misery cars cause when they do go bad, either because they cost a lot to fix or are difficult to successfully fix. My sense from the responses TrueDelta receives is that when complicated German cars go bad, they’re more likely to go really bad, and then their owners are likely to share their horror stories widely.

      Drawing on MM’s critique, it wouldn’t be expensive or difficult to change a switch. But an electrical problem with an unclear source could be a different matter.

    • 0 avatar

      That depends: what’s the price difference in that repair trip for the A6 vs. the Civic?

      There are repair trips and then there are Repair Trips.

    • 0 avatar

      Your statement is true. Here’s another true statement:

      “Audi A6 owners will need three times as many repair trips as Civic owners.”

      • 0 avatar

        True, but is one extra trip ever two years really all that big of a deal? It’s certainly a concern but it would rank rather lower than a number of other factors when choosing a car.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with those stats. However, at year 7, the civic will stay at .3 trips while the audi with be in the 4.5 range. It won’t be broken switches either, it’ll be expensive stuff, like that supercharger, gaskets and drivetrain components.

      • 0 avatar


        At 7 years the Audi will have 1.15 visits per year vs. .59 for the Civic, indeed statistically the quality gap is even smaller at 7 years.

        Can you please provide a link to your source for that 4.5 number?

    • 0 avatar

      I feel like the number of trips is not a completely accurate picture though. This car will likely suffer Maserati-quattroporte-itis in it’s advanced (4+yrs) age, in that only a complete idiot would both have and then spend the amount of money that it will take to fix every issue, from minor ones (huh, that’s a 200$ switch) to major (huh, there was a major internal component that won’t go 100k miles – plastic chain tension guides, supercharger blade seals, the contacts on the back of the display peel off…)

      It may only go to the shop once, but its because it will likely go to a parts re-cycler when the 2nd gen owner gets his first 5 figure bill.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree, I think the line about “only a couple more dealer visits” is severely understating the true cost of ownership.

        I’d be wiling to bet that repairing that automated lift hatch alone is about the same price as putting a new head gasket on a late model Honda.

    • 0 avatar
      Mark MacInnis

      Then multiply the “average cost per visit to the Audi dealer” compared to the same cost for the Honda dealer.

      In other words, I’d imagine that extra repair trip every two years to amount to the cost of about three extra car payments….

      • 0 avatar

        Why is anyone surprised that a $70,000 car is MUCH more expensive to repair than a $18,000 car? Look at how much more stuff there is to go wrong, if nothing else. If you can can afford to buy the car, you can afford to fix it, and it is cheaper to fix it than to buy a new one.

      • 0 avatar

        The repair cost comparison being made isn’t using an actual $70,000 car, $70,000 cars are leased under warranty and repairs are paid for by Audi.

        It’s that $70,000 car four or five years down the line when it resells for new Jap commuter money (or used to, in this market it’d be $30,000) and assorted halfwits cross shop them with Accords.

        Nope. It still has $70,000 repair costs, and you’re five years closer to them (optimist) or into them (realist).

      • 0 avatar

        Exactly my point. It’s still a $70K car, whether you paid $70K new, $40K CPO, or $5K at the buy-here-pay-here. Why should there be any surprise at the running costs?

        I just bought a 25yo $5K Porsche 924S. I have no doubt at all it will cost me nearly the purchase price to get the maintenance caught up over the next few months. And it is a pretty nice example.

    • 0 avatar

      seriously? its amazing how people try to manipulate data. it doesn’t take an education to see that the Audi would go in THREE TIMES more frequently than the Civic. Sure, by only looking at a short period, the difference between the two is small (which tends only to make sense to people who can’t actually afford the more expensive car), but over time, do you really think you can compare a Civic and Audi? Over ten years, the Audi would need to go in 7 times, while the Civic only 2. And if the frequency were even close, do you not consider the cost of repairs on either? Me, I will keep my BMW 5. In its 22 years and with 130,000 miles, it has needed a fan clutch.

  • avatar

    “However, I’d be sweating over the complexity and expecting hefty annual maintenance bills once the car hit about age four.”
    And this wouldn’t bother you in a BMW or MB?

    Not much said about the driver impressions other than road noise and smooth ride. Any thing else? Its almost like you got the car to talk about its electronics.

    • 0 avatar

      Not trying to be overly critical just pointing out some things.

    • 0 avatar

      The electric boot seems like a pointless gadget that might be expensive if it goes wrong.
      I had an A6 Avant rental in Denmark earlier in the year with an electric tailgate. As MM says, you MUST press the button, it goes mental if you try and force it.
      In the rain, when you just want to slam it and jump in the car, this is very annoying.
      Otherwise, it was a great car. I’m a RWD snob but I really enjoyed it.
      We had a 6sp menual, the auto would probably have been better.

      • 0 avatar

        We have the electric tailgate on our Touareg and when it rains, we just push the button to close it and jump in the car. It’s not like we stand there waiting for it to close…but I admit the first few times we used it we did! You get used to the feature quickly and then it becomes second nature. The advantage is that you don’t get your hands filthy and my wife usually has problem either reaching or muscling down hatches anyway.

    • 0 avatar

      Congrats krhodes on the 924s. Always glad to see 44/24s fall into the hands of someone who appreciates such a fine auto and knows what it takes to take care of one.

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks! I have to admit, the world of Porsche has been a bit eye-opening. I have vigorously defended the cost of running BMWs, Saabs, and Volvos in the past – they are not NEARLY as expensive as urban legend would have it. The Porsche? Holy God, if it has a Porsche logo on it best hold onto your socks, it is gonna cost you more than you can even imagine. Which is especially evident with the 924S, because everything but the engine is mostly VW/Audi in that car. No way around it, these cars cost a small fortune to maintain. And even this most entry-level of Porsches needs a lot of special tools and expertise to work on. Luckily I am willing to buy tools, and I have had enough somewhat exotic cars in the garage that it doesn’t scare me. Much. :-)

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Shop manual? Ha!

    These days, you buy a subscription to the Audi Infotech System (or whatever they call it) and the $5,000 scan tool to interface with all the onboard computers.

    Does anyone even bother to make a paper shop manual anymore?

    • 0 avatar

      There’s a Haynes manual for the last generation Audi A8, it’s absolutely tiny.
      It really only covers bulbs and fluids, there’s an awful lot of “refer to Audi specialist” or some such to cover anything beyond a very basic service.

  • avatar

    Recently drove the S7 – both on the street as well as on the track.

    While it does seem a bit over the top in terms of electronic gadgetry, its an incredible machine.

    This car is not just about overall fun to drive, punch the V8, its about the pure sensual feel you get from sitting in it and looking at it.

    Yes, its not likely that too many A7/S7 owners will be tying down 2×4’s from Home Depot in the trunk… that’s not the point.

  • avatar

    “So, what happens when schmutz gets into the switch contacts, when corrosion and normal mechanical wear take their toll a few years down the line?”

    That’s for the sad-sack buying this thing as a 3rd owner at the independent used-car dealership to worry about.

    Once he gets hit with a worn out wiper stalk, his quick bump into vehicular high-society ultimately drops him into bankruptcy.

  • avatar

    The Audi may only have an extra trip to the service department every two years (versus the Civic), but the Audi’s bill will likely include a comma while the Civic’s will likely be under $500. That said, a friend just bought an A8 and it is absolutely gorgeous. I suppose it’s like having a high maintenance supermodel girlfriend – it costs more, but the ride is an adventure.

  • avatar
    Freddy M

    I think it’s an absolutely exquisite car in terms of looks. Followed behind one yesterday.

  • avatar

    “At this point, we need to think about the person the A7 buyer wants to be; in my mind, this person is a man with cruelly small rimless glasses who works as a “creative” in some discipline that requires him to be conversant in the work of impenetrable philosophers like Lacan, while demonstrating insider knowledge of obscure facets of urban popular culture (say, the acid house scene of Minsk). He lives in an edgy neighborhood in some unearthly expensive city (Helsinki, Singapore, etc.) and he experiences physical pain when exposed to a piece of bad design. In other words, the kind of guy who always made me feel like a total ignorant, mouth-breathing schlub in grad school and even today reduces me to a state of excessive italicization.”

    I have an MA in English from somewhere in the 90s, and I totally hate you now for providing that grad school flashback. Day drinking on a Thursday, it is, then.

  • avatar

    You have to look at these cars as things you absolutely FLEE from once the warranty is up.

    Shame about the overwhelming interface. Strange to look at the evolution of luxury. It used to be quality and a simple but luxurious driving experience. Now it is Bluetooth connectivity and music visualizers to cover up switches and hardware that will fall to pieces in month 35 of the 36 month warranty.

  • avatar

    speaking as an Audi owner, I absoloutely hate the A7. It’s just… silly.
    You’re paying $10k more for what is essentially an A6 with reduced rear headroom and miserable rear visibility. and all for what? a stylish rake to the back window? Seems like a ploy to get stupid people to pay more for no additional content. $100 of revised sheetmetal?

    Every time I see one of these on the road, I say to myself; “Oh that guy paid the stupid tax”

    • 0 avatar

      What’s wrong with paying money for a better looking car?

    • 0 avatar

      Amen. Dumb and then some.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      Seems like an odd complaint from anyone who owns a luxury car. After all, you could have bought an Accord EX-L, which is a nice, decent performing car which carries 4 passengers comfortably and quietly.

      Of course, the Accord is not as nice as the Audi and it certainly doesn’t look as nice as even an A6, outside or in, much less an A7.

      But the guy who bought the A7 thinks it’s even more nice than an A6 — at least outside — and it is. There’s no stupidity in that, any more than there’s stupidity in buying an A6 instead of an Accord EX-L.

      • 0 avatar


      • 0 avatar

        What if he wanted AWD? That is the primary reason many people buy Audis. Quattro is second to none.

      • 0 avatar
        Mark MacInnis

        As an Accord EX-L owner, I’d say there’s about $40k worth of stupid in buying a A7…

        ….but that’s me. I’d rather have the Accord and retire a year earlier.

      • 0 avatar

        @Mark MacInnis

        If you had the average income of the typical buyers of this car, $40K would not make a bit of difference in when you retire. $70K cars are not aspirational, the way someone might stretch to lease an A4 or a 3-series. These cars are bought by those who have MADE IT. Buying one is less of a stretch than buying a new Corolla is for the average family. It simply is not a matter of buying a nice car OR retiring early OR taking more vacations, it is doing all of those things, and sending your kids to private school too.

    • 0 avatar

      But it will hold more booze in the boot than an Escalade.

  • avatar

    If I were comfortably rich, this is the type of car that I would lease and dump. I think it’s the most beautiful sedan on the road in quite some time, and nobody does interiors like Audi.

    But these are truly disposable cars, and Audi/VW seems to have decided they are going to be in the car rental business. I could absolutely see a car like this having repair bills that would be cheaper to just to lease/buy brand new and have a warranty than buying used.

  • avatar

    I have to piggyback on everyone who has the lease and dump idea. After owning an Audi for a bit (B5 A4), I don’t think I could evenr own a German car again. There wasn’t nearly the amount of electrical stuff to go wrong, but I still had a failing Instrument panel LCD display, climate control buttons that only worked when they felt like it, and a phantom-venting sunroof. And that was just the electrical problems.

    It was an expensive car to own over 70k, and my buddy with an E46 said the same thing about his when he dumped it at 77k.

    With that said, looking at payments, I’ll absolutely lease a 3er or A4 again at some point in my life, or maybe even an A6 or 5er if my funding situation is right. but owning, especially at higher mileages is out of the question to me.

  • avatar

    So we can assume a broken door courtesy light switch will slam on the brakes? Cool! I wonder if a short in the passenger vanity mirror light still kills the engine like it did in the A6.

    It’s not just trips to the shop per year, it’s how one gets there. A decade ago, shoulders of interstates were lines with Cobalts and such; these days it’s just as likely to be some German Egomobile.

  • avatar

    It’s a great car, don’t get me wrong, but for much less money one can get an A6 or Q7. Those two are more practical.

  • avatar

    Silly Murilee. If you really want a car like this, you don’t sweat the maintenance bills in year four, because you lease it for three years. BMW has perfected the art of making their lease deals more attractive than buying, but Audi is catching up.

    (Or you are one of those masochists who buys German luxury cars in year four, with 50,000 miles, for $15,000, and then spends thousands a year on maintenance in return. But those people expect that.)

    • 0 avatar

      The scary thing is, 4 year old cars like this are now more than double your 15k$ jab, and the maintenance is just going up to.

      I keep wondering when the bottom will literally fall out of the secondary market on big luxo’s. You can’t even get into one of these moneypits without a loan that would buy you something brand new from a non-badgewhore marque. And I say that as someone who has enjoyed owning (and servicing… /sigh) a number of them.

    • 0 avatar

      I’d be very curious to see actual numbers that breakdown what percentage of new German premium cars are leased vs financed/purchased, and for those that are financed, how long the loan is for as well as average lengths of ownership. Don’t forget that we now have a second step after the first owner…the person who buys the off lease car CPO with the extended warranty and keeps it until that runs out. I suspect that is what my CPO Volvo S80 owning friend may end up doing if it’s current repair trends continue.

      As for the masochists…yeah we do expect that. I knew that my maintenance budget was gonna be thousands per year, and that’s fine. It’s worth it to me. I’m still spending less than I would have spent on payments had I bought a new Focus or Mazda 3, nevermind that I’m in a BMW, although mine was 7 years old with 100k.

  • avatar

    “Naturally, this got me to thinking about the mischief that could be caused by nihilistic hackers, were they to get into the A7′s code; we’ll discuss those possibilities in a later post.”

    Looking forward to this post

  • avatar

    I’m looking forward to the review of a “jailbroken” A7 that recites directions in Jello’s voice, lets you slam the hatch, drive with the doors open, blow out the speakers, shift straight from reverse to drive and back again, and allows you to customize which pedal does what—wait, that last one might be going too far…

  • avatar

    What an entertaining and wonderfully catty review of this pedigreed dog of a car. Particularly nice work on the target demo section MM.
    The editors should put you in charge of reviewing all luxury vehicles. As they say on the inter webs, LOL.

  • avatar

    I wanted to like this car, and then found one in the flesh for the first time and could not believe it.

    I swear on all that is holy to designers, the rear 3/4 when you pass this thing stole so much from the last gen charger it made me do a double take.

    • 0 avatar

      And speaking of the Charger…
      A great comparo is between a pretty well-equipped Charger (an R/T Plus, let’s say) and an E350 Benz or A6.

      For about $60k, you’ll get a N/A six-cylinder power, vinyl seats and some nice power accessories in the German sedans.

      For a little more than half that, the Charger will give you real leather with air-conditioned(!) seats and substantially more power.

      And while the Charger/Challenger/300 might (might) not have J-grade reliability, it sure won’t be any worse than the Germans. In fact, Charger reliability will likely closely track the 1999 E-class…yeah, I went there again.

      • 0 avatar

        Erm, you better HOPE a new Charger is more reliable than a 1999 E-Class because they are and were one of the most unreliable cars on the market. If late 90s reliability is all I can expected out of a Charger (which, doesn’t make sense since they share only a platform) I’d happily skip it.

      • 0 avatar

        Caboose: N. B.:

        An A6 3.0T is well less than $60K nicely equipped, has a stellar supercharged V-6 that provides much quicker acceleration and better gas mileage than the “bitchin\'” V-8 in R/T, and throws in AWD to boot.

        Don’t get me wrong, I really like the new Charger, but the premise for your comments isn’t really accurate.

  • avatar

    “When I got this car, I was all set to make a very clever comparison between Apple and Audi, based on my observations that the crossover between owners of products from both companies is so high…Steve Jobs figured out that ordinary users of electronics (e.g., your grandma) don’t want complexity.”

    Murilee, you obviously equate Apple with the simplicity of the iStuff, and have never sampled the insanely over-priced and uber-complicated MacBookPro; a laptop only a masochist could love.

  • avatar

    Great review as always.
    What I really like about this car’s design is that it actually uses a line to make a SHAPE! As opposed to the formless “flame surfacing” that started with BMW and now infects most automakers.

    There is a resaon most Americans choose reliable bland-mobiles in spades. We have less free time than ever.

  • avatar

    I’d be curious if Volvo’s “You” concept came before this or after–they are remarkably similar. I’m a Volvo guy who also loves Audis but like the Volvo concept’s lines better than this. Something about the car from the c-panel back just looks pudgy and droopy to me (in as much as the S60’s front end does, admittedly).

  • avatar

    Good stuff. Every modern car review should contain details about the things that the car does without driver input or against the driver’s wishes.

    Add automatic braking after you let off at the end of a high speed highway pass to the list of annoying things that modern Audis do.

  • avatar
    Mr Nosy

    Like everyone else here says,I’d tap that lease option.I wouldn’t buy it unless it offered some sort of optional button management & maintenance system-BMMS.To remind owners if they haven’t pressed a button lately so the contacts won’t corrode,or just so the button wouldn’t feel ignored.My own observance of German Road Sedan Owners of Ruthless and Unyielding Discernment,are that they eventually get worn down.You’ll often see late model examples of Fatherland’s Best with the bottom driving light trim missing,at the very least.On the inside,its a trim piece here and there,along with amenities too expensive/inconvenient to fix in relation to the amount of use they get(I’m talkin’ to YOU,rear power sunshade.). Owners in this demographic,as they will inform you,are very busy. What often keeps them so busy,is telling everyone within earshot that they are in fact,quite busy right now. Audi is also smart to know that no matter how much structural rigidity you build into a vehicle,808 SUPER BASS sound systems will invariably accelerate trim shedding,and erosion in NVH.

  • avatar

    I had made the decision to buy this car, but thank you for reminding me of the electrical/computerized problem.

    Had the impression, from the pictures, that Audi had returned to produce cars and not computers.

    Martin is right in his concern, took a look at his web site, and understand why – my self being former owner of a MB 190E 2.6 for 18 years, without a single call to the dealer, where a switch for activating the El-window is connected directly to the motor system, and not to a computer board, where the speeder pedal is not connected to a computer, where the switch to the sun ruff is cabled directly to the motor and not to a computer.

    I totally agree, to stuff in digital multiplexed communication and km´s of cabling, computer boards in each door, under each seat, PCB´s about every where, in a car environment, is to ask for trouble. The cables it self is a hazard, prone to begin failing after not so many years, average life time of digital electronics is 8 years.

    They proudly show videos of the galvanizacion of parts of the car, to last 40 years, which is a wast of effort, since it will be the electronics which trash the car before 10 years.

    At about 4 years first troubles will begin, and take you to the dealer for service at a timely manner, the timely manner depends on how the “end-of-life” programming was done in the small CPU devices placed in all censors and PCB boards. Perhaps they have gone so far, that the central computer manage all “end-of-life” settings in the 100+ CPU´s, they surely read them, and might also write to them.

    Placing buttons and switches horizontally instead of vertically, just below your arm and next to a cup holder, is a design flaw, smutz and dirt will land, I say chance of spilling a cup of CocaCloa within 2 years is above 80%. No need to explain what happens when a cup of CocaCola runs into such electronics horizontally placed panel with 50 openings … Everything has to be disassembled, all has to be replaced, also the nice wood – the computer board will have to be programmed, by special programming equipment, where each PCB has a unique serial number, and connected to the central computer.

    All digital parts having a CPU have a unique serial number today, if a part is replaced in a car, this part has to be exchanged with a new, a new cant be ordered like that – they do not allow for second-hand parts circulating, some may begin to repair or deactivate or reset the “end-of-life”. Similar as in printer devices, which typically have a digital counter, stopping the printer to work after a count of copies.

    This makes me sick.

    The alternative is Toyota, Mazda who still deliver cars and not computers, but not for long, even they are also seeing the huge business in computer and serialized computerized parts having “end-of-life” in timely manners.

    – or get an old BMW 728i or MB C240 from 2000 for 3000 Eur, and spend 5.000 on a restoration, and you have a car as good as new which will not drag you to the dealer every month – this is what Ill do, instead of using 60.000 Euro on a car which will be a pain in the ass after 4 years, and to trash after 8 years.

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