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Somewhere between sedans and crossovers, there's a burgeoning new class of vehicle that has hatchback versatility and four doors, yet also borrows some of the design intrigue and excitement of a sports car. And the 2013 Audi A7 and S7 are perhaps the most distinctive of these models on the market—and arguably the sexiest of this new bunch.
Only from the front, the A7 looks much like the A6, with which it shares its mechanical layout, its instrument panel, and most of its feature set. But walk around the A7 and what you get instead of a trunklid is a long hatch, opening up to a long-and-wide, yet shallow cargo floor under the graceful, curved roofline. It's much like that of a grand-touring sports car, only more practical.
With the seats down, the Audi A7 and S7 are limited only by the sloping glass in terms of capacity; there's a lot of room here, and a lot of utility--even though the space is a bit shallow. Otherwise it's a top-notch luxury-car interior, with supremely comfortable front seats, although the back seats are a little tight for lanky adults.
Small gripes aside, the A7 is one of the best entries in the four-door-coupe/hatch/sedan segment in terms of refinement, style, and performance. It's quick, it handles shockingly well for such a large car, exhibiting none of the nose-heavy, understeering traits Audis are often known for in hard driving--yet it still rides comfortably.
To the point, the A7 is more of a full-size sport sedan than a sports car, but it's well-mannered, engaging, and very fun to drive. Power for the A7 comes from a 3.0 TFSI V-6, a direct-injected, supercharged V-6 making 310 horsepower, delivered smoothly through an eight-speed automatic.
Meanwhile, the S7 steps up the game with a new turbocharged V-8 making 420 hp and capable of getting to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. It instead has a seven-speed S tronic gearbox. Both models have Audi's latest rear-biased version of quattro all-wheel drive, and in either case gas mileage is pretty good, at 18/28 mpg for the A7 and 17/27 mpg for the S7. Both are adept handlers, but the S7 has fluid road manners and outstanding acceleration that are tough to pass up.
In addition to the phenomenally good interior appointments, it's technology that also makes the A7 a standout. Most of what's great in the new Audi A8 flagship has been handed down to the lower-priced A7, either on the standard-equipment list or as part of the options list.
A night-vision display, blind-spot assist, and a system that can anticipate a collision all elevate the A7's safety roster above many luxury sedans. It also inherits a number of features from the brand's latest A8 flagship—including 3D Google Earth maps with Sirius Traffic updates, Google Voice search, an awesome Bang & Olufsen sound system, Audi Connect (wireless hotspot), and MMI Touch, which lets you enter destinations, phone numbers, and the like by simply tracing a letter or number at a time on a little scratchpad.