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2012 Audi A7 Review & Test Drive

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‘AUDI GETS SLEEK AND SEXY’

Audi has broken new ground in 2012 with the A7.  It combines sleek, sexy styling with the emotional appeal of a coupe, but with the prestige of a sedan and the functionality of a wagon.  This innovative, five-door design of the newest Audi entry sits atop a sporty, lightweight chassis and is partnered with a highly efficient supercharged V6, latest generation quattro all-wheel drive and the newest advanced driver assistance and multi-media systems to define a new benchmark for the premium segment.

The all-new 2012 Audi A7 is the next evolution of Audi design with short overhangs, a long wheelbase, an expansive hood and low-slung, sporty proportions.  The A7 stretches 195.6 inches in length and has a 114.7 inch wheelbase.  Combined with its 84.2 inch width, lowered ride height, and 55.9 inch height, the A7 exudes elegance, confidence and an aggressive demeanor.

With its low roofline and integrated rear doors, the A7 has a coupe-like silhouette.  Other design elements that signify coupe styling are the frameless door windows and aerodynamic designed side mirrors mounted on the doors.  The C-pillar stretches to the rear and flows into the shoulder, while the sharp tornado line begins at the headlamps, extends across the flared fenders, over the doors and terminates in a gentle slope toward the taillights, paying homage to the 1969 Audi 100 Coupe S.

The Audi signature Singleframe grille is contoured at the leading edge of the hood, with a chrome surround framing high-gloss black lattices with chrome accents.  The horizontal posture of the fascia emphasizes the width of the A7, as do the wide, low air inlets and horizontal struts.

The A7 comes standard with Audi’s xenon plus technology, complete with the new all-weather lighting integrated into the headlamp housings.  The system replaces traditional foglamps, whose would-be location in the air intakes now is occupied by two radar sensors for optional adaptive cruise control.  The signature LED daytime running lights are standard.

Optional full LED lighting, and unmistakable element of Audi design, blends visibility and style with low energy consumption and an extended service life.  In addition to the 18 LEDs used for the daytime running lamps and 11 LEDs employed for the turn signals, two powerful LED units comprise the low- and high-beam headlamps on each side.

Taillamps are fitted with LED lamps as well.  The optional adaptive lighting system modifies the amount of illumination based on the driving environment, whether cornering, traveling in the city or the highway.

The integrated spoiler automatically extends at 80mph and then retracts at 50mph.  It can also be deployed and retracted manually via the push of a button on the dashboard.  Two large, round tailpipes of the dual-branch exhaust system are incorporated seamlessly into the bumper and benefit from an attractive chrome application.

For those seeking an even more dynamic look, the Prestige package, (which I tested), includes redesigned front and rear bumpers with air inlet grilles, extended side sills and a platinum gray diffuser insert.

Everywhere I drove and or parked I received positive feedback from drivers and pedestrians asking about the new A7.  The new look is so sleek, sexy and innovative, like nothing else on the road!

The sweeping exterior of the A7 extends inside, where Audi maintains its leading role in automotive interior design and ergonomics.  The defining element is the ‘wraparound’ design-which incorporates a horizontal line encircling the driver and front passenger that starts above the instrument panel and ends in the passenger-side door.  The center console is oriented toward the driver to further enhance the driver focus of the interior.

The comfortable and supportive front bucket seats are 10-way adjustable and available with four-way lumbar support, three-stage ventilation and three-stage heating, the latter of which is available for the rear seats as well.  Rear seat passengers enjoy two comfortable, contoured seats with ample head, arm and legroom, as well as a pull-down center armrest with dual cupholders and storage.

Chrome bezels frame the air vents, while aluminum-look trim accents the optional layered wood veneers and bezels.  Two optional interior lighting packages are available: one composed of active door reflectors, lighted handles, and LED reading lights (Premium and Premium Plus) and another ambient lighting package (Prestige) that utilizes LED lamps to highlight door pockets, sills and center console-all of which can be configured to suit the owner’s taste.

The Audi A7 is available with two types of leather-Milano or Valcona-which color-coordinate with the four-spoke steering wheel and transmission selector lever.  Fine ash wood veneers are standard while dark brown walnut and brushed aluminum trims are optional.  The seat coverings are available in black, titanium gray, nougat brown and velvet beige, while the headlining is available in black, lunar silver and silk beige.

The instrument cluster is straight ahead and easy to see with large, race-inspired 180mph speedometer and 8,000rpm tachometer.  White LED lights show your current engine coolant temperature and fuel onboard.  All other important information is shown on the cluster as well as your trip computer readouts in the center.  All switches, dials and buttons are within easy reach and fully illuminated for safe nighttime travel.  Grab handles above each door make entry and exit safe and easy.

The rear hatch is equipped with a height adjustable power-lift system that opens with the touch of a button, revealing a large luggage compartment with chrome tie-downs capable of holding 24.5 cu.ft. in its base configuration.  Fold the 60/40 split rear seats forward and the A7 reveals an expansive cargo area with a flat carpeted floor that provides excellent functionality surrounded by stunning design.  What more can you ask for-sleek styling, a comfortable and luxurious cabin with the functionality of a stationwagon for cargo carrying capability.

Audi continues to pioneer the use of aluminum, high-end steel and lightweight materials on the A7.  Boasting a hybrid aluminum construction that melds the lightweight metal with high-end steels of various strengths, the Audi A7 weighs roughly 15% less than a comparable all-steel body.

Along with a variety of engine compartment and chassis components, the front fenders, hood, rear hatch and doors are made of aluminum, meaning that more than 20% of the Audi A7 body is made of weight-saving material.  But light weight doesn’t come at the expense of rigidity, comfort or safety.  As a result, the body provides a firm platform for precise handling, low vibration and excellent crash protection.

Vibration levels at the contact points between the passengers and the body-the floor panel, seats, and steering wheel-were painstakingly minimized.  The interior is largely decoupled from the road and engine noises, thanks to hydraulic damping elements on the axles, subframes and bearings.  All these elements were tuned using the Audi comfort test bench, a development tool found nowhere else in the world.

The Audi A7 0.30 coefficient of drag aids fuel economy and reduces wind noise.  Microfiber fleeces, acoustically wheel housing liners and underbody panels with a special film on the windshield and complex sealing on the doors and frameless windows help to provide a serene environment for all occupants.

Under the aluminum skin and out of sight is also what makes the all-new A7 so special, its powertrain, suspension, brakes and safety systems.

The Audi philosophy of intelligent downsizing is shown by fitting its 3.0 TFSI turbo-charged V6 into the engine bay.  The engine is all aluminum, DOHC, direct injected, DOHC.  Located in the 90-degree V of the cylinder banks is a belt-driven supercharger with two intercoolers that compresses intake air to a maximum of 0.8 bar and including continuous camshaft adjustment for intake and exhaust valves.  This potent engine produces 310hp at 55-6500rpm and 325lb.ft. of torque at 29-4,500rpm enabling the new A7 to blast out to 60mph from a standstill in just 5.4sec. and on to a limited top speed of 130mph.

All Audi 7 models are fitted with a state-of-the-art eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission that is so smooth and quiet that it feels and seems that the A7 just goes ahead seamlessly.  This new transmission balances quick acceleration with impressive fuel economy.  The standard Audi Drive Select incorporates the automatic transmission, the Servotronic vehicle speed-sensitive electro-mechanical rack & pinion steering system, and the engine to modify shift points, steering boost and throttle response characteristics through four modes: comfort, auto, dynamic and individual, to give you the driver how you want the A7 to respond to your inputs.

Increasing the handling capabilities and safety when driving the new A7 is the next generation of Audi’s quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system that features enhanced torque vectoring.  Depending on grip, speed and axial forces, the system will alter the standard 40:60 front-to-rear torque split.  Quattro works with an intelligent brake management system to quell understeer by lightly applying the brakes to the inside rear wheel, thereby contributing to seamless, neutral cornering.

The magnificent fully-independent is a true work of art giving you incredible handling and an ultra-smooth ride.  The front suspension is a five-link arrangement with twin-tube gas-charged shocks, a hollow anti-roll bar and air springs along with a die-cast strut brace to increase rigidity and improve response to your inputs.  The rear axle follows the track-controlled trapezoidal link principle with two hollow trapezoidal links and two longitudinal and lateral tubes each besides gas-charged shocks and an solid anti-roll bar.

An optional sport suspension tune lowers the body by 0.39in.  The new A7 rides on standard 18X8 inch cast aluminum, seven-spoke design wheels.  My A7 test vehicle came equipped with 20X9 inch cast aluminum wheels wrapped with 20 inch summer performance tires.

Safely slowing the new A7 down from speed are big steel disc brakes that are all vented for fade-free stopping power.  Up front are 14 inch discs clamped with four-piston calipers and 13 inch discs clamped with dual-piston calipers in the rear.  Your braking control and power is enhanced with standard ABS, electronic stability control, traction control, EBD and BA.

The A7 reaffirms Audi’s commitment to safety for both passengers and pedestrians.  In a frontal collision, the front crossmember directs forces to the two longitudinal members, which undergo a controlled deformation to dissipate energy.  A strong floor and tunnel structure for the occupant shell absorbs the impact forces.  Meanwhile, the passenger cell-made up of hot-shaped steel components-provides exceptional protection.

The adaptive restraint system is networked with the Audi pre-sense safety system, intelligently managing the airbags and belt force limiters based on the height of the driver and front-seat passenger.  Standard side airbags in the front seats, optional airbags in the outside rear seats, and curtain airbags keep occupants safe in the event of a side impact, while the integrated Audi head restraint system reduces the risk of whiplash in rear-end collisions.  Audi also offers a range of driver assistance systems including adaptive cruise control and Audi side assist.  The night vision assistant identifies pedestrians in the vehicle path and highlights the pedestrian silhouettes in the display to alert the driver.

The latest version of Audi’s MMI (multi-media-interface) features an eight-inch screen that rises from the dashboard when the ignition is turned on by pushing the start button.  It consolidates audio, navigation and telephone functions into one simple interface, featuring MMI touch that enables you to enter navigation or telephone information with the stroke of a finger using handwriting recognition technology.  This intuitive system reduces driver distraction and has been rigorously tested for usability and reliability.

Audi connect, an exciting industry first, is being introduced on the all-new A7.  Audi connect brings a whole new level of real-time driver-relevant information into the vehicle such as Google Earth navigation with voice recognition (industry first), Google Local search and WI-FI connectivity (industry first factory installed option with integrated mobile broadband connectivity) for up to eight devices enabling passengers to surf the internet, download videos or check e-mail.  A range of high-end audio systems are available including a 14-speaker Bose sound system or the range-topping Bang & Olufsen Advanced sound system complete with 15 speakers and 1,300 watts of power.

Standard equipment not mentioned above includes tire pressure monitoring, 4-spoke leather wrapped tilt/telescopic steering wheel with multi-function controls, 4-seat configuration with power, heated front seats, 5 inch monochrome driver information screen set in between the two large instrument cluster gauges, auto-dimming reaview mirror, power-remote/heated sideview mirrors, all express windows, power door locks, cruise control, keyless go, leather seats, power glass sunroof, rain-sensing wipers/washers, split-folding rear seats with pull-down armrest and dual cupholders, three-zone automatic climate control, white LED interior lighting, dual, lighted vanity mirrors, dual map lights, dual-tier center console storage box with padded armrest and dual cupholders, thick cut-pile carpeting and front/rear floor mats.

My A7 test vehicle came with the Prestige Package that included 20 inch wheels/tires, Audi navigation plus with MMI touch, front/rear parking sensors with rearview camera, 4-zone climate control, rear heated seats, and front heated/cooled seats.

The all-new A7 is gorgeous from any angle and equipped to take some of the world’s finest and most luxurious sport sedans.  It is a winner in every respect.

COPYRIGHT:2011:HARVEY SCHWARTZ

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Price: Base A7 $59,250.00 /As-Tested $68,630.00 including destination charge
  • Engine: 3.0-liter Supercharged V6 310 horsepower @ 5500 rpm / 325 ft-lbs. torque @ 2900 rpm
  • Transmission: 8-speed shiftable automatic
  • Headroom: f/r-36.9/36.6
  • Legroom: 41.3/37in.
  • Turning circle: 39ft.
  • Curb weight: 4,210lbs.
  • 0-60 mph: 5.4 seconds
  • EPA mileage specs: 18mpg/city, 28mpg/highway

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