2012 Audi A7 SedanPosted on August 16th, 2011
Five doors, four passengers, and one stunning design
By Nina Russin
The collective eyes of my neighborhood are focused on the Audi A7 parked in our driveway. The new A7 combines five-door practicality with coupe styling. To call the exterior breathtaking is not an exaggeration.
Audi’s press materials claim that the five-door sedan has the versatility of a wagon. It doesn’t. The roof’s severe rake makes the cargo area too shallow to hold bicycles and other large cargo which could fit into a wagon or a more traditional hatchback. But with its folding rear seats, the A7 can easily hold long items such as skis and snowboards. Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system makes getting through the snow a non-issue.
Power comes from a supercharged 3-liter V-6 engine rated at 310 horsepower and 325 foot-pounds of torque. Superchargers have a reputation for providing exceptional low-end power with no throttle lag: the block in the A7 is no exception. Peak torque is available as low as 2900 rpm.
Equally impressive is an eight-speed automatic transmission with manual gear selection. The Quattro all-wheel drive system maintains a 40/60 front-to-rear torque split under normal driving conditions. It can prevent understeer by applying the brakes to the inside rear wheel if the car starts to push in a corner.
Base price is $59,250, not including the $875 delivery charge. A prestige package on the test car adds larger wheels, navigation, a connectivity system, four-zone climate control, upgraded Bose audio system, a rearview camera with ultrasonic parking sensors, adaptive headlamps and a seven-inch information screen ($6330).
Twenty-inch rims with performance tires cost $1200, while Audi’s blind spot detection system adds $500. Special metallic paint ($475) plus the options above bring the price as tested to $68,630.
Test drive in southern Arizona
I spent the past week behind the wheel of the new A7, driving around the Phoenix metro area, plus a road trip between Phoenix and Tucson. Three hundred miles later, I’m convinced that the A7 is a car any enthusiast would be proud to own and never tire of.
On the flip side, I can’t agree with Audi’s claim to have invented a new car segment. Functionally, the Audi A7 comes closest to the Porsche Panamera and Infiniti G37: three sedans whose performance rivals two-door sports cars.
The A7’s greatest asset, apart from its styling, is the powertrain, which is a work of art in itself. Any car that can accelerate from zero to sixty miles-per-hour in 5.4 seconds, and average 28 miles-per-gallon or better on the highway gets my vote.
The supercharged engine is a win-win on four counts. The first and most obvious is power. Having peak torque available at such low engine speeds makes merging into high-speed traffic and evasive maneuvers a snap. It also makes the car a lot more fun to drive on challenging two-lane roads.
The second benefit, as mentioned above, is fuel economy. Blowers make engines more efficient. They produce better power with less fuel.
Both supercharged and turbocharged engines have less parasitic power loss at altitude than their naturally-aspirated cousins. I didn’t have the opportunity to take the A7 up to the mountains, but I’d expect its performance at 7000 feet to rival sea level.
Finally, supercharging reduces toxic emissions, especially carbon monoxide, since it reduces the amount of uncombusted fuel coming out of the tailpipes. Being a runner, I’m all for conserving oxygen.
The eight speed transmission is seamless, with crisp shifts which come closer to manual gearboxes than most automatics. The driver can choose from four operating modes: comfort, auto, dynamic and individual. The drive select feature modifies throttle, shift points and steering feedback depending on how the driver intends to use the car.
Steering feedback on the A7 sets a new standard for electric power systems, rivaling if not exceeding the best hydraulic system on the market.
Use of aluminum components throughout the suspension produces the nimble quality Audis are famous for. The twenty-inch wheels with performance tires are a nice addition in areas such as Phoenix where the roads are relatively smooth. Having gone through an area with road construction, I would not recommend the option for drivers in the upper Midwest, even if they purchase separate winter tires. The ride is simply too stiff.
While Audi wasn’t the first manufacturer to introduce a blind spot detection system, theirs is noteworthy for its ease of use. Three large LEDs illuminate inside the side mirror when vehicles in the adjacent lanes move into blind spots. I would highly recommend the option for any driver who commutes through rush-hour traffic on a routine basis.
Standard LED daytime running lamps are a beautiful design feature which enhances safety on winding canyon roads. After dark, adaptive headlamps which come with the prestige package swivel according to steering inputs to light dark corners in the road. This feature is especially useful on dark rural or suburban streets, where pedestrians at intersections aren’t illuminated by streetlamps.
Keyless entry and start enables the driver to unlock the vehicle and fire the ignition without removing the key fob from his pocket.
The Audi A7 interior holds up to four adult passengers. Both the seating designs and four-way climate controls ensure that those in back ride as comfortably as the driver and front passenger.
Audi’s MMI interface is intuitive to use, and eliminates a lot of unnecessary knobs and buttons. The flip-up screen which displays the audio, navigation, rearview camera image and media features is quite large, and easy to refer to while driving.
Front seat ventilators keep the driver and front passenger more comfortable on hot days. Vents behind the center console circulate air through the rear.
The premium Bose audio system produces excellent surround sound. Engineers did an excellent job of isolating passengers from road, engine and wind noise, so they can enjoy the audio or converse.
A power rear door makes it easier to load up the back of the car with groceries and luggage. The rear seats fold flat in a 60/40 pattern to extend the cargo floor. A standard tonneau cover conceals items stored in back.
New connectivity feature
Audi’s MMI interface was the automaker’s first step towards integrating PC functions into the car’s interior. Audi Connect takes the concept a step further by making the vehicle a wireless hot spot.
I have mixed feelings about the technology because of safety concerns. While hands-free telephone and internet access is less distracting than using hand-held devices, it does command the driver’s attention.
Studies in Britain over a decade back using driving simulators revealed that those who were talking on hands-free phones lost a significant amount of peripheral vision. In other words, the use of hands-free devices can impair the driver’s ability to see pedestrians and cyclists who he is sharing the road with.
The A7 comes with front, side and side curtain airbags. Rear side airbags are available as an option. All models come with active head restraints, four channel antilock brakes, stability and traction control. Audi’s comprehensive factory warranty includes complimentary maintenance for the first year or 5000 miles, and four years of roadside assistance.
Audi builds the A7 at its Neckarsulm, Germany assembly plant.
Likes: A gorgeous five-door sedan with outstanding performance and an elegant interior.
Dislike: The trunk is too shallow to hold large cargo, including bicycles and some camping equipment.
Model: A7 3.0 TSFI Quattro Auto Tiptronic sedan
Base price: $59,250
As tested: $68,630
Horsepower: 310 Hp @ 5500 rpm
Torque: 325 lbs.-ft. @ 2900 rpm
Zero-to-sixty: 5.4 seconds
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 18/28 mpg city/highway
Comment: The A7 requires 91 octane premium unleaded fuel.
One response to “2012 Audi A7 Sedan”
Great post exceptional detail. I love that audi can produce a powerful car while still respecting the environment. If your only dislike is that you can’t fit your bike in the back then I say its a winner for sure! Why would you take an audi camping?
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