The Car Connection Audi A7 Overview
The Audi A7 is a luxury four-seat hatchback that's one of the most handsome vehicles on the road. The fastback shape has a beautiful sloped profile, and it's useful, too: the hatch opens up a huge and very useful cargo space.
While the A7 shares drivetrain components and equipment with the A6 sedan, the A7 has been offered in a pair of high-performance versions, the S7 and RS 7, while the A6 has most recently been sold with the S6. The performance models are covered separately.
The A7 competes with other style-conscious offerings like the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class.
The second-generation 2019 Audi A7 features updated tech inside and under the hood, while it retains its beautiful shape. Audi made only minor changes to the A7 for the 2020 model year.
MORE: Read our 2020 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 new Audi A7
The 2019 Audi A7 arrived in showrooms in late 2018 with reworked styling and a heaping dose of new technology.
It's the second generation for the fastback (a hatchback, technically speaking), and it precedes the arrival of a new A6 sedan that shares its mechanicals by a few months.
Audi design chief Marc Lichte and his team penned the new shape, but derive most of it from the 2012 model. The proportions are similar, with a long hood, an elegantly draped roofline, and a long hatch marked by more sharply stamped lines, more trailing cues, and a six-sided grille.
The chiseled new looks extend to the cabin, where digital displays dominate and hard buttons have taken a back seat. The new A7 sheds Audi's old infotainment roller-knob system for one that relies on voice commands and wide touchscreens–a 10.1-inch panel that displays maps and other functions, and a secondary 8.6-inch screen that displays climate functions, drive modes, and accepts handwritten inputs.
Optionally, a 12.3-inch reconfigurable display swaps in where gauges would otherwise fit. That driver-focused screen delivers a host of information, from navigation maps to infotainment functions.
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 18.9 cubic feet of space that open up to a compact-SUV-like 49.1 cubic feet with the rear seats down. Rear head room 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.
For power, Audi will rely initially on a single engine, but a range of engines are likely for the new A7. At launch, all U.S.-market cars feature a single-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 with 340 horsepower. Equipped with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system, it should spawn a plug-in hybrid model at some point. Future S7 models will likely sport a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V-6, while a V-8-powered RS 7 may make a return.
The latest A7 is built on the Volkswagen Group's MLB II-Evo platform, which it shares with other new models including the Q7 and Q5 SUVs. By using a mix of steel and aluminum, engineers have increased body rigidity and lowered weight. The new car is a half-inch longer in wheelbase, overall length increases 0.8 inch, and height doesn't change.
An independent suspension and all-wheel drive are complemented by new technology such as rear-wheel steering, which can dial in up to 5 degrees of countersteer to the rear wheels at parking-lot speeds to help the A7 corner more effectively. The countersteer is dialed down and out as the A7 reaches higher speeds. In fact, the rear wheels move with the fronts at highway speeds for added stability.
Audi A7 history
The A7 was new to the U.S. market for the 2012 model year. More a sport sedan than a sports car—and even then, not a sharply honed one unless buyers chose the high-performance S7 or batty RS 7. Regardless, we found the A7 to be both fun to drive and well-mannered enough for the daily commute or long-distance road trips.
The supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine (3.0 TFSI) started at 310 but rose up to 340 horsepower. It fit the quiet character of a luxury car yet churned out the torque just off idle and developed a raspy bark when called on. It was matched with Audi's 8-speed automatic transmission, which proved a willing companion and came with Tiptronic manual controls. Quattro all-wheel drive delivered power to all four wheels, and Audi Drive Select allowed the driver to pick among four different modes that control the way the transmission responded, the feel of the steering, and throttle responsiveness, among other variables.
The A7 boasted great isolation from road and wind noise inside, and as in Audi's TT sports car, an integrated spoiler extended (at 80 mph in the A7) to improve aerodynamics—then it retracted back at 50 mph. Hydraulic bushings helped mute out harshness, as did frameless doors, and the A7 stayed stiff yet light through the extensive use of aluminum in its structure.
Inside, the A7 received 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. This version of MMI featured a combination rotary controller and an interface for audio and navigation as well as calling functions. In addition to the controller, Audi offered MMI Touch, which let drivers enter destinations, phonebook entries, and such by tracing out individual letters on a trackpad. The navigation system in the A7 offered 3D Google Earth imagery; combined with SiriusXM Traffic updates, it was one of the best systems on the market.
Audi made only a few minor feature and option changes for 2013. 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. It got 560 hp in standard form and the RS 7 boasted an incredible 605 hp for buyers who tacked on the performance package.
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 8-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. The engine put out 240 hp and a delightful 428 pound-feet of torque, sending the car to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. It was also able to return 24 mpg city, 38 highway, according to the EPA.
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.
Few changes were made for the 2015 model year. The 2016 model year brought a facelift all around, yet the changes were relatively subtle: new headlights and taillights, 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 adaptive cruise control added the ability to come to complete stop and resume following. There was also an improved night vision system, and the lineup gained further improvements to the Audi Pre Sense forward collision warning 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.
The 2017 model gained further refinements to both bumpers, an expanded color palette, and new wheel patterns. Interior changes for 2017 included new LED ambient lighting packages, aluminum and wood dash accents, improved Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, a wireless charging pad, and an available rear-seat entertainment package utilizing a pair of tablet PCs.
For 2018, the A7 added 7 horsepower for a total of 340 hp, while a new Competition package included a firmer suspension, special styling touches, 20-inch alloy wheels, and a unique rear differential.