New & Used Audi A7: In Depth
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The Audi A7 is closely related to the A6 luxury sedan, yet it's far more interesting to look at from some angles. The A7 is a hatchback, technically, but not an obvious one: from the outside, it's more of a fastback sedan, with a gorgeous sloping profile that ends in a very useful cargo opening.
While the A7 and A6 share drivetrain components and equipment in most models, the A7 gets one distinctive version that has no parallel: the ultra-powerful RS 7.
The A7 competes with other style-conscious offerings like the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class and the BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe. The design was updated for the 2016 model year.
MORE: Read our 2016 Audi A7 review
No matter whether you call Audi's A7 a fastback, a four-door coupe, or a hatchback, we've found it to be one of the best entries of its kind—and that's whether you go by refinement, performance, or features in addition to style. The sloping rear makes the A7 one of the best-looking vehicles you can buy today, and it also makes it one of a small set of vehicles crafted specifically to appeal to design enthusiasts. On top of that, it's more practical than a conventional four-door sedan.
The A7 is more a sport sedan than a sports car—and even then, not a sharply honed one unless you trim up to the high-performance S7 or batty RS 7. Regardless, we've found the A7 to be both fun to drive and well-mannered enough for the daily commute or long-distance road trips. The 310-horsepower, 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 (3.0 TFSI) engine fits the quiet character of a luxury car yet churns out the torque just off idle and develops a raspy bark when called on. It's matched with Audi's eight-speed automatic transmission, which proves a willing companion and comes with Tiptronic manual controls. Quattro all-wheel drive delivers power to all four wheels, and Audi Drive Select allows the driver to pick among four different modes that control the way the transmission responds, the feel of the steering, and throttle responsiveness, among other variables.
The Audi S7, meanwhile, has a twin-turbo V-8 with 420 hp and 406 pound-feet of torque, delivered through quattro all-wheel drive and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. It can still deliver up to 27 mpg while it's ripping off 0-60 mph runs in 4.5 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 155 mph. It's the most balanced derivative of the A6 family we've driven yet.
There's great isolation from road and wind noise inside, and as in Audi's TT sports car, an integrated spoiler extends (at 80 mph in the A7) to improve aerodynamics—then it retracts back at 50 mph. Hydraulic bushings help mute out harshness, as do frameless doors, and the A7 stays stiff yet light through the extensive use of aluminum in its structure.
While the rear hatch and its sloped backlight make the A7 prettier than a conventional sedan, they also add versatility and practicality. The rear seats can fold to afford more cargo space, and the large opening and extra space make loading bulky items easy. The cargo area boasts an impressive 24.5 cubic feet of space. Rear headroom suffers only a bit as a result of the roofline, though most will agree that this small (and likely infrequent) inconvenience is worth the usability dividends compared to a standard sedan.
Inside, the A7 gets some of the best elements from the cabin of Audi's A8 flagship—including superb trim materials and Audi's Multi Media Interface (MMI) Plus screen-based infotainment system, which includes a combination rotary controller and an interface for audio and navigation as well as calling functions. In addition to the controller, there's also MMI Touch, which lets you enter destinations, phonebook entries, and such by tracing out individual letters on a trackpad. The navigation system in the A7 also includes 3D Google Earth imagery; combined with SiriusXM Traffic updates, it's one of the best systems on the market.
The A7 was new to the U.S. market for the 2012 model year, and for 2013 there were only a few minor feature and option changes on the A7—that's also the year the Audi S7 was added to the lineup. For the 2014 model year the even hotter Audi RS 7 was introduced in the U.S., with higher specific output and a track-ready suspension. The RS 7 is the most powerful Audi you can buy, in fact, with 560 hp from a version of the corporate twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8, strapped to an eight-speed, paddle-shifted automatic with an active rear differential and a variable-torque-splitting quattro all-wheel-drive system. Tack on the performance package and the RS 7 boasts an incredible 605 hp.
Another engine option joined the lineup for 2014, this one at the other end of the fuel-economy spectrum from the RS 7. Audi began offering its 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 in the A7, paired with an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. The engine puts out 240 hp and a delightful 428 pound-feet of torque, sending the car to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. It's also able to return 24 mpg in the city cycle and 38 mpg on the highway cycle, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. In November 2015, the EPA notified Audi that its 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 illegally skirted emissions tests and the automaker subsequently stopped selling the model in the U.S. It's unclear if the diesel A7 will return to the States, although parent-company Volkswagen has said it is working toward a fix for those cars already in owners' hands.
Few changes were made for the 2015 model year. The 2016 model year has brought a facelift all around, yet the changes are relatively subtle: new headlights and tail lights, revisions to the grille and fascias, and an updated interior design, plus the latest from Audi's infotainment cabinet, incorporating a faster processor. Additionally, the A7 can now complete stop and still resume while following in adaptive cruise control mode; there's an improved night vision system; and the lineup gains further improvements to the Audi pre sense safety system. Audi boosted the specific output of the base A7 3.0 TFSI to 333 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque for 2016 as well.