- Very dapper exterior
- Grand tourer handling with luxury sedan ride
- Comfortable, hugely adjustable seats
- Rear seats short on leg room
- Very little feel or feedback from the steering
- Sleek hatch impinges on cargo area
Beautiful to look at and a joy to drive even in base form, the 2016 Audi A7 takes the four-door form to truly tantalizing levels.
The Audi A7 makes no bones about its beauty. The mid-size hatchback puts its four-door A6 sibling on the trailer when it comes to styling, and it also skips the base-level powertrain and instead reaches for the limits with an ultra-powerful RS 7 edition. It's the closest thing to a gasoline-powered Tesla Model S you can drive.
The A7 remains mostly unchanged for 2016, but there are some key updates aesthetically and mechanically. At the front of the car, the most visual changes are to the headlights, which now bear a more angular shape, with a new daytime running light shape and standard LED lighting. The grille is also updated, with a slightly more angular profile and new lower spoiler area for a more modern, cleaner look.
Inside the updated A7 family, buyers will find a new Valcona leather option and Beaufort walnut wood trim, among other new material and color choices. An all-new version of Audi's Multi-Media Interface (MMI) is also available, running on substantially upgraded hardware for improved visual impact—already a strength of the previous A7. High-speed data connectivity, MMI Touch input, and an optional Bang & Olufsen sound system further upgrade the A7’s features.
On the powertrain side, things change but also stay the same. Audi has pulled its diesel version of the A7 until the company complies with regulations for diesel emissions. The automaker admitted in 2015 that its engines polluted more than initially admitted.
All versions of the 2016 Audi A7 come standard with quattro all-wheel drive in the U.S.
Start with the base engine in the A7 and you’ll find the 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 rated at 333 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque—a rise of 23 hp over the previous A7. For the sport-seeking, there’s the S7, which uses a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 engine to generate 30 hp more than last year, now rated at 450 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. For improved shift quality and manual control, the S7 comes paired with the 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox with paddle shifters. The RS 7 continues forward unchanged (as yet) for the 2016 model year, still generating 560 hp, ridiculously small 0-60 mph times, and huge grins. (There's a performance pack that boosts output to an eye-watering 605 hp.)
Despite its size and luxury, the A7 is both quick and surprisingly nimble. Until pushed well beyond propriety, the A7 family exhibits little of the nose-heavy understeer dynamics Audis have long been known for. Despite this sportier-than-expected quality, the ride comfort of the A7 is still high. The S7 and RS 7 take these traits and move them up a level—or two, in the case of the RS 7. The standard adaptive air suspension on the S7 and RS 7 can adjust to meet the needs of driver and road, reducing body lean in the corners or reducing the impact on the occupants over bumps.
Strongly resembling, from most angles, the A6 sedan with which it shares its key underpinnings, the A7 nonetheless breaks with the A6’s conventionality by keeping the graceful arch of the roofline going to create a coupe-like profile and a large rear hatchback space. Great for cargo—though a bit shallow in its dimensions—the A7’s combination of sexy exterior style and healthy interior practicality make for a grand touring luxury sedan par excellence. Subtle details, perhaps even more subtle for the 2016 model year, keep the theme going, and keep it fresh: optional black-out trim can reduce the shiny chrome count; a new mesh insert is available on the rear bumper of some models; and revised exhaust tips are offered as well, depending on trim.
Inside, the updates are even more subtle, with small changes to switch gear shapes; a new MMI computer system powering information, navigation, and more behind the scenes; and subtle new color and material options, as well as slight changes to some of the head-up display components. Subtle details distinguish the base cars from the uber models: chrome grilles become black honeycombs, simple exhausts tap out for diffusers and oval tailpipes, and matte aluminum and carbon replace gloss black trim. The dash is a chorus of cutlines, but Audi's mastery of materials carries it off without a hint of chaos.
Throughout the cabin, seating is comfortable and materials are top-notch. Only rear-seat passengers will want for anything, and that’s just a bit a of leg room for taller occupants. Up front, the seemingly infinitely adjustable seats make it easy to find the right position, regardless of body type. Fold down the rear seats, and cargo capacity climbs, even if the space does remain shallow under the sharply sloped roof.
Add to the A7’s charming mix of sultry style and luxurious appointments Audi’s brand of high-tech gadgetry, and you have a truly winning combination. The new MMI system is faster, slicker, and better-looking than ever thanks to a new Nvidia Tegra 30 processor, which offers twice the processing power of the previous, already highly capable, MMI processor system. Thanks to the upgrade, the instrument panel’s LCD can now display Google Earth data, too, as well as driving directions, car information, and much more.
Other upgrades include enhancements to existing high-tech safety systems, including the ability to come to a complete stop and still resume following in adaptive cruise control mode; an improved night vision system; and improvements to the Audi pre sense safety system. Blind-spot monitors and active-lane assist also improve safety and driver awareness.
The base engine combination, a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6, scores 20 mpg city, 30 highway, 24 combined for the 2016 model year, according to the EPA. On the sportier end of the spectrum, the S7 and RS 7 get 17/27/21 mpg and 15/25/18 mpg, respectively.