By on October 17, 2017

2019 Audi A7 silhoutte - Image: AudiAt 1 p.m. ET on Thursday, October 19, 2017, the second-generation Audi A7 will be unveiled. Based on the silhouette Audi has already revealed, and based on Audi’s historic design habits, the second-generation A7 will appear remarkably similar to the first-generation Audi A7.

At some point in November, Audi USA will sell its 50,000th A7, making the hatchbacked A6 a low-volume car even by the standards of America’s third-ranked German luxury brand. Yet as a style and status symbol, the A7 remains a model of great importance to the overall Audi lineup.

Tasked with challenging the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class, the first-generation Audi A7 arrived in the United States in 2011. U.S. A7 sales peaked at 8,598 units in its first full year of 2012, though the A7 didn’t fall too far from that total even in old age, sliding in 2016 by a couple of thousand units from that peak. With decreased availability, A7 sales are down 25 percent, year-over-year, through the first nine months of 2017.

Most buyers continued to choose the less costly trunked A6 rather than the A7. During the five-year span from 2012 to 2016, Audi USA sold 2.7 A6s for every one A7. (The Canadian ratio was a much tighter 1.2 A6s per A7, by the by.) But the A7, which currently stickers from $70,650 — or 7-percent less than the basic Mercedes-Benz CLS — showed how successful Audi could be in a one-on-one battle between Ingolstadt and Stuttgart.2017 Audi A7 - Image: AudiWhile the Audi A7 never rose to the level reached by the CLS early in its tenure, the A7 outsold the CLS by a 12-percent margin through the first half-decade of its lifespan, never once ceding the annual sales crown to the Benz. Through the first nine months of 2017, U.S. A7 sales totalled 3,439 units. CLS-Class sales are down 61 percent to only 1,424 units as Mercedes-Benz also prepares to launch a new model.

But again, volume was never the mark of success with the A7. Audi has the Q5, A4, Q7, and A3 for volume. (Those four models account for 70 percent of the brand’s U.S. sales.) The A7 was intended to elevate Audi’s image by marrying a unique style (and bodystyle) to a genuinely premium price tag. A7s require a $20,000 premium over and above the A6 on which it’s based; a premium of more than $10,000 compared with similarly configured A6s. In the U.S., there have been no 2.0Ts in the A7 lineup. And during an age in which Audi forbade RS6s from entering U.S. ports, the RS7 drummed up only positive attention for the Audi brand.

The A7 has, in other words, done its job. It has fulfilled its mission. And what does Audi do when a member of its lineup performs at or above expectations?

Audi leaves well enough alone.

[Images: Audi]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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