2012 Audi A7 Is a 10

May 2012 View more

Photos courtesy of Audi USA.

The all-new Audi A7 defies easy categorization. It has a big footprint but seats just four. It looks like a swoop-tailed sedan, but has a hatchback rather than a trunk lid. It presents a luxury car’s styling, but hides a large station wagon’s cargo hold. It rides with the comfort of a softly sprung flagship model, but drives more like a sports car. And its shape?  Definitely a roofline to remember.

Sometimes such daring forays into automotive non-conformism result only in punch lines. Not so this time. Audi’s corporate design has been percolating for a while now and the A7 clearly benefits from all that fine-tuning. The grille, the LED driving lights, the creased line running from headlamp to taillight all harmonize here.

The A7’s interior received just as much attention as the exterior. From the flush-mounted chrome tie-down hooks dotting the cargo bay’s perimeter to the LED accent lights lining the door trim and console, the details delight. There’s more: Twin indents in the headliner eke out a bit more height for the rear seats; The navigation screen, which features Google Earth maps, unfolds from the dashboard with silent precision; Visibility from the driver’s seat is just OK; An optional and very perceptive blind-spot detection system and rear back-up camera contribute welcome assistance.

The A7’s two rear seats are separated by a fixed console—an arrangement that, when considered in light of the excellent rear-seat legroom, creates a veritable limo-like environment. If one measure of luxury is extra space, then Audi’s decision to give up the middle seat represents a dose of opulence. Opting for just two seats precludes buyers with more than two children, but makes for a nicer perch for your double dates or the shorter half of your golf foursome.

Like many luxury vehicles these days, the A7 is awash in the buttons, knobs and dials necessary to control its many features. The downside is that once simple functions have become more complicated. For example, changing the fan level on the A7’s air conditioning requires pushing a button to select the fan function, then turning a knob to raise or lower the level—a two-step process that might make you miss the simplicity of old school setups.

Fortunately, the A7’s engine is decidedly not old school. The discreet “supercharged” emblem on the car’s flanks might as well be Superman’s “S”, because that device turns the relatively svelte 3.0-liter V6 into quite the performer, capable of propelling this all-wheel-drive saloon to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds. The A7’s eight-speed automatic transmission seals the deal with its imperceptibly smooth upshifts at part or full throttle. Some minor jolts on downshifts, when the car is slowing to round a sharp corner or to stop at a light, are the only black marks on an otherwise extraordinary report card. As gas prices rice, the A7’s EPA rated 28 miles per gallon highway fuel economy represents an accomplishment for a car that performs as unabashedly as this one does.

The 2012 Audi A7 comes in just one trim level, which retails for a more-than-reasonable $59,250. But while Audi spares buyers the trouble of choosing among trim levels, it doubles down on the complexity and cost of its option list. Among the choices: The $3,620 Premium Plus package, the $6,330 Prestige package and the $5,800 Innovation package that also requires choosing the Prestige package. And if the standard stereo is not to your liking, you might also opt for the $5,900 Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System, which channels 1,300 Watts through 15 speakers.