- Handling of a grand tourer, ride of a luxury car
- Fantastic multi-adjustable seats
- Google Earth's luscious maps
- RS 7: a GT-R for the rest of us
- Rear seats confine knees
- Steers without much feedback
- Cargo space isn't great
The A7 is handsome no matter how you slice it, but it's the brawn S7 and brutish RS7 that really gets our blood flowing.
The 2015 Audi A7, wearing a graceful four-door coupe profile over characteristically Audi proportions and details, the Audi A7 remains sleeker and more beautiful than its A6 sedan counterpart. It is among the most attractive vehicles on the road today—at any price.
Add to those looks the utility of a hatchback rear cargo area, and you have an intriguing combination of style and practicality.
The A7 TDI aims to be the tops among the segment in terms of fuel economy. The 3.0-liter turbodiesel manages impressive EPA numbers of 24 mpg city, 38 highway, 29 combined. It's offered with standard all-wheel drive and an 8-speed automatic and produces 240 horsepower and 428 pound-feet of torque.
In 2015, Volkswagen admitted diesel engines in this model illegally cheated federal tests and polluted beyond allowable limits. As part of unprecedented settlements with federal and state governments, Volkswagen agreed to buyback from owners diesel-equipped models of this vehicle. To determine eligibility for all affected Volkswagen, Porsche, and Audi models, Volkswagen set up VWDieselInfo.com for owners. (Owners of affected vehicles can enter their VIN numbers to see if their cars are eligible for buyback.
The base setup is a supercharged V-6 that makes 310 hp and can propel the A7 up to 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds. It's relatively fuel efficient, at 18/28/24 mpg, and is helped by its 8-speed automatic. We have some small gripes with that engine, but it's still quick, handles well for a large car at 2 tons, and manages to tame some of the traditional understeer that we've found in other Audi models. The V-6 is also supremely comfortable and quiet under relaxed driving.
The S7 is the next step up from there with a turbocharged V-8 that makes 420 hp mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic and all-wheel drive. That's good enough for a run up to 4.5 seconds to 60 mph, but with the same road manners as the A7 models, from which it's based.
Last year, Audi added a higher-performance version of the S7, dubbed RS 7, which takes the same 4.0-liter V-8 found in the S7 and whips the turbos for even more power. Its 560-hp rating tops even the V-10 found in the R8, making the RS 7 the most powerful Audi on sale today. That type of grunt isn't cheap—it starts at $105,795—but it shifts that power through an 8-speed automatic with paddle-shifters and a variable torque splitting all-wheel-drive system that propels the RS 7 into rarefied air. The RS 7's 0-60 mph time of 3.7 seconds competes not only against the Mercedes-Benz CLS AMG 63 and BMW M6 Gran Coupe for uber luxury coupe buyers, but also the Corvette Stingray for straight-line speed while avoid gas-guzzler penalties with help from cylinder-deactivation technology.
It's not only about straight-line performance, the RS 7 also keeps things tidy in the corners too. The standard air suspension can be set to Dynamic for flatter cornering and its steering can be set for a direct-ratio setup, too. (A steel suspension is coming, but we don't anticipate seeing many of those models around.) The RS 7's rear-biased all-wheel-drive system doesn't completely solve the Audi's propensity to understeer, but it can instruct the RS 7 to dive predictably, and flatly, into corners at incredible speeds. If a four-door GT-R were a thing, the RS 7 would be it.
Much of the front end, instrument panel, and features of the A7 are similar to the A6, from which it's based. Walk around the back of the A7 and the two diverge with the A7 sporting an elegant hatchback, with a long and wide opening for a shallow floor. The A7 boasts a grand-tourer outline, but one that's far more practical. Small details differentiate the A7 models with the S7 and RS 7 models, including black honeycomb grilles, quad exhaust tailpipes and rear diffusers, matte aluminum and carbon trim. The dash is a chorus of cutlines, but Audi's mastery of materials carries it off without a hint of chaos.
Regardless of which model you settle on, the A7 is warm and inviting for all passengers. It's a first-rate luxury experience with comfortable front seats and high-quality materials. Only the tallest rear-seat passengers will be cramped for space, and the S7 and RS 7 are four-seaters only—the A7 has five positions. Fold the seats down and the A7 is only limited by its seductive roofline; there's a lot of room here, even if the floor is a little shallow.
Beyond the first-class appointments, the A7 also sports state-of-the-art technology. Most of what you'd find in an A8 is available in the A7, or standard. The A7 sports standard power adjustable heated front seats and a choice among trim colors to complement standard leather. Cooled seats are optional. The A7 and S7 also comes standard with impressive interior ambient lighting, while the RS 7 adds a three-spoke steering wheel, sport shifter, and a classy pinstriped black-and-aluminum trim.
Blind-spot monitors, night-vision cameras, and a forward-collision warning system enhance the A7's already impressive roster of safety features. The infotainment includes a 3-D Google Map feature that displays topographic and feature maps; Sirius Traffic updates the navigation with the latest traffic info; Google Voice search can pick eateries and hotels nearby; and an optional Bang & Olufsen system may sound better than being there yourself. The infotainment is primarily driven by a scratchpad system dubbed MMI touch that includes handwriting recognition for destination entry or dialing phone numbers. Audi Connect's plan handles an optional data subscription to turn the car into the world's most expensive hotspot (and more) if you're in the mood.