28. August 2012
So I pulled out of a gas station in a brisk-but-safe manner, turning out ahead of an SUV. When the SUV pulled up next to me, I looked over and saw that it was a police vehicle. While I had done nothing wrong, I still had that somewhat sinking feeling associated with the notion that the action was something that may have led to something else.
But the officer looked admiringly at the car, gave a slight smile and nod, and drove away.
And that’s the thing about the Audi A7: It draws more positive reaction with its coupe-like profile (though it has four doors), as well as from the LED driving lights that have been copied by OEMs at all strata in the sales chain in a way as shameless as those riding on Apple’s coat-tails with “i” this and “i” that, in a way that if you want to be in the least bit inconspicuous, you don’t want this car.
The ride and handling are superb, providing a sense of weight without ponderousness (i.e., it feels planted to the pavement), and a sense of lightness when maneuvering in low-speed situations, as in a parking lot, a situation wherein the rear camera comes in handy, given that you have a comparatively low H-point (no, I am not talking about R8-like lowness, just something that is far sportier than “sedan” signifies). Part of the reason for the lightness is the fact that this has a structure based on a combination of aluminum (used for the front fenders, hood, hatch, doors, and engine and chassis components) and high-strength steel. A consequence of these materials is that the car is about 15% lighter than a comparable all-steel car. And one suspects that the sense of being planted and in control is predicated in large part by the quattro permanent all-wheel drive system that puts the power in the right place as the vehicle is driven.
There is a potent 3.0-liter 310-hp supercharged V6 under the hood that’s attached to an 8-speed automatic with Tiptronic, or self-shifting should you so desire. While you might be thinking, “That’s probably a thirsty engine,” you would be wrong (although I suspect that anyone who is buying a car of this nature might not be all that concerned with premium fuel costs, $4.00+ prices notwithstanding). The EPA numbers on the sticker are 18 mpg city and 28 mpg highway, and while it is generally a safe rule of thumb to figure that you’re going to get less than that, the A7 nailed those numbers—in fact, I was generally getting 20-21 mpg in city driving. The performance, of course, is enhanced by the belt-driven supercharger. The fuel economy is enhanced by the transmission, which takes various parameters into account in order to get to the right gear promptly.
Inside. . .well, being an Audi it goes without saying that it is first-rate, from the leather to the metallic surfaces. The vehicle features an eight-inch pop-up color display that comes up from the center of the dash. It has the “Audi connect” system, which basically means there is a WiFi hotspot in the car. A primary use of that connectivity is that the navigation is via Google Earth. Chances are you’ve “traveled” via Google Earth on your computer. This is pretty much the same thing. The first several times the screen renders “reality” you have to be amazed. But after not too long, it becomes ever-changing wallpaper; I am not convinced that the straight-up map-on-a-screen isn’t better for purposes of navigation (yes, you can switch out of Google Earth and get a conventional map on that screen). Another useful aspect of the system is that when trying to navigate to a place that the system doesn’t seem to recognize you can use a Google search to get the location for the navigation. I found this to be rather handy.
The car has such a short rear decklid that you might think that you’d be able to put not much more than a loaf of bread in the trunk. But that is deceptive, and there is actually 24.5-cubic-feet back there, which is ample.
But again, it is about the looks.
And it looks good.
Engine: 3.0-liter V6, supercharged with direct injection
Material: Aluminum block and heads
Horsepower: 310 @ 5,500-6,500 rpm
Torque: 325 lb-ft @ 2,900-4,500 rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 114.7 in.
Width (with mirrors): 84.2 in.
Height: 55.9 in.
Curb weight: 4,210 lb.
Base MSRP: $59,250
As driven (inc. destination): $68,630
EPA: 18/28 mpg city/hwy