By Bruce Caldwell
Luxury and hatchback are terms that don’t seem to belong together, but the new 2012 Audi A7 has added practicality to their latest luxury/sport sedan. We don’t expect to see many A7s at Home Depot with lumber poking out of the hatch; weekend luggage and golf clubs are more likely. The A7 is a primarily an upscale sport sedan with added functionality.
Walkaround: The Audi A7 is a handsome car with an imposing presence. There is no doubt that this is a car of substance owned and driven by people of similar means. The A7 exudes Germanic Autobahn muscularity. It looks fast even when parked.
Paint quality and body panel fit were first class. We like the easily recognizable Audi grille and trick Xenon headlights. The lights provide excellent nighttime visibility.
The 2012 Audi A7 has style with a capital S.
Interior: We love Audi interiors, at least the front seats. With the exception of the extra luxurious A8 most Audi rear seats tend to be short on legroom. This might have something to do with Audis being drivers’ cars. We greatly prefer driving Audis to riding in them, but this could be an issue for transporting important clients/guests.
Front seat room is beyond stretch-out; it’s just short of lay-down. The thick, contoured leather-wrapped steering wheel has tilt and telescopic features with a long travel that makes finding the ideal driving position easy. The heated, power lumbar adjustable leather seats are both comfortable and supportive. They’re great touring seats.
As spacious as the front seats were I felt crowded in the rear seat. The sexy, sloping roofline looks great outside, but inside my head hit the headliner. My knees were pressed against the seatbacks even with the front seats moved up a ways. I also hit the top of the arched doorjamb getting in and out of the back seat.
The rear seats fold pretty flat, which adds to the hatchback’s versatility. The power sunroof was on the small side. Materials, colors, and textures all combined to make a handsomely stunning interior. The interior wood was as nice as can be found in any luxury sedan. Plentiful controls take a little acclimation, but work fine once you’re familiar with them. The sound system/electronics/communications features were first class. We appreciated the side assist option for blind spot alerting.
Under The Hood: The wonderful supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine is a precision powerhouse producing 310 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque. The power is smoothly transmitted to all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission and Audi’s famous Quattro all-wheel-drive system. Even though the A7 weighs a full two tons it’s capable of sub-five second 0-60 times and quarter mile times in the low 13-second range. Those are muscle car performance figures from a luxury sedan. Braking performance is equally impressive thanks to 14-inch and 13-inch vented disc brakes.
The EPA rates fuel economy at 18/28 city/highway, but with all that exhilarating power on tap we didn’t worry about fuel consumption. We were lucky to break into the twenties.
Behind The Wheel: The Audi A7 is a car that deserves to be driven long and hard. It seems wasteful to squander its performance attributes running shopping errands. All areas of handling, acceleration, and braking were excellent. The super comfortable driver/front passenger accommodations and enough luggage capacity for a cross-country adventure just beg owners to take a couple weeks off and hit the open road.
Whines: Our A7 tester had the optional 20-inch Sport Package, which included handsome 20-inch alloy wheels and summer performance tires. Those tires are great in good weather, but it snowed during part of our test period. Even with the world famous Audi Quattro system we struggled getting up our steep driveway. We also had trouble on the icy ruts after the snowstorm. The base 255/45R18 tires would have been better. The right tires are important for our climate.
Major option packages can put a major dent in the car’s bottom line. For example, there is a Bang and Olufsen sound system that lists for $5,900 on top of the mandatory $6,300 Prestige Package. For that price we’d buy better ears.
Marginal rear seat legroom and headroom were two significant negatives.
Bottom Line: The 2012 Audi A7 is a difficult car to quantify. From a strictly practical standpoint an A6 would be a better choice, but from an e
motional perspective the A7 has a Siren’s song that’s hard to resist. The hatchback feature does improve practicality, but that same roofline penalizes rear seat passengers. The 2012 Audi A7 is an odd mix of performance, luxury, and practicality, but one we’d love to own.
A luxury hatchback sounds like an oxymoron, but Audi has made it work.