Those who are accustomed to well-equipped luxury cars will find all of the expected conveniences included in the 2012 Audi A7—and with some extra coin you can add high-tech tech and entertainment features.
On the higher Prestige trim, you can add an S-line exterior package, which gets Bose surround sound, four-zone climate control, ventilated front seats, LED ambient lighting, and adaptive headlights and cornering lamps. Options include a flashy 20-inch, ten-spoke alloy wheels, plus an Audi side assist system that helps spot vehicles in the blind spot. Other high-end options include a night vision system, a new adaptive cruise control system that can come to a full stop and restart, and a high-end Bang & Olufsen sound system that includes 15 speakers, with polished aluminum covers plus acoustic-lens tweeters that emerge outward when you power up the system.
The A7 includes a screen that pops up when you turn on the ignition and stows away either when you exit the vehicle or when you choose to; the screen is part of Audi's new MMI Plus system, an interface that integrates audio, navigation, and calling functions. At first look, there are a couple of features that really distinguish MMI Plus from the rest of the navigation systems and interfaces on the market. The first is the little scratchpad, called MMI Touch, that can use handwriting recognition to understand everything from phonebook navigation to nav destination entry. You trace out one letter at a time, and after a little practice we found it far easier (and less distracting) than a touch screen or any pointer-based system.
Another leading-edge feature in the A7 is the incorporation of 3D Google Earth maps, which can provide an aerial view of your route that includes topography and terrain as well as, in higher zooms, buildings, parks, and trees. Zoomed in, when navigating tight neighborhood streets—and seeing the rooftops of the buildings you're passing by—it puts a completely new spin on the navigation-system experience. The navigation system in the A7 also comes with Sirius Traffic updates, which can be overlaid on the Google Earth imagery to provide one of the most sophisticated, active map layouts in any vehicle.
Audi also claims to have made voice input easier in the A7, thanks to Google Voice Local Search features that listen to your keywords then prompt you with results and potential destinations. Google Local Search also taps into details about restaurants, hotels, or accommodation and relates it to the map display. There's even real-time traffic, weather, and news updates, plus local gas-station prices—also of course put in map form. With a myAudi Destination feature, you can also log on to Google Maps and see up to 50 prior or saved destinations.
And to make this entire suite of features, which is called Audi Connect, even more complete and useful, the A7 can be factory-optioned with the capability to turn the vehicle into a wireless hotspot that can simultaneously accept connections from up to eight WiFi-enabled devices.
Altogether, Audi has withheld very few of the features that are offered on its more expensive A8 flagship—which makes us wonder if the A7 might just draw some shoppers across the showroom.