Review: 2012 Audi A7, A Supermodel With the Four Rings

 

The 2012 Audi A7 is a breath of fresh air for us here at RawAutos. Being fun to drive, comfy, and a hatchback, it’s like a car guy’s wet dream. Where’s the S7 already?!

Audi have put the A7 right in between their A6 and A8, which makes this somewhat of a Goldilocks-esque story for me. In my opinion, the Audi A6 is beautiful, very nice, but not quite my style. The A8? Well it isn’t beautiful, but it is very nice, also; yet again, just isn’t quite me. Now the A7, on the other hand, is 100% me. The right amount of interior space, a much sexier look than the other two, and more over, a hatchback.

Hatchbacks are tricky things to design into the modern premium cars. Porsche are still being crucified by some for the hatch Panamera -although sales wouldn’t suggest it being a bad idea. But for a car junky like me, a good ol’ fashion hatchback is like a girl in an Xbox Live game; lots of lust and weak knees. But Audi sure have done a pretty fantastic job with the A7.

The car arrived one chilly, early morning, and with no jacket, just jeans and a white undershirt, I stood outside studying the vehicle inside and out. No cold could penetrate the will I had to figure out what every little button and knob did. As a young man, directions are about as useless as a book filled with the answers to life. I don’t need any of that, I’ll find out for myself, thank you. This is the part of this job I love the most: Fiddling. Just standing there staring at the Audi A7 I came to a realization: this may be, quite possibly, the most beautiful thing with four doors in the world right now. Sure, Aston Martin’s Rapide is a gorgeous girl, as is the Mercedes-Benz CLS; the Maserati Quattroporte is a brutish looking gem that only Italy could create, and the Porsche Panamera is an excellent “why not?” to a question that wasn’t really pondered. But the Audi, the A7, it’s just breathtaking. When you look at it you’ll find that time flies by while you’re just trying to understand how it appears to be one continuous brush stroke of a design. You question how a car with so much can cost so little by comparison to its peers.

This leads us to the price. Audi will let you start with a base A7 at just $59,250. That’s $15,950 less than a base Porsche Panamera V6, and $12,050 less than a base Mercedes CLS (all prices exclude destination and handling charges). I won’t even try and measure the cost difference between the Audi and the Aston and Maserati sedans, as they’re really not going to be cross-shopped.

The 2012 Audi A7 that I drove had an as-tested price of $68,630. The options included $475 for Moonlight Blue Metallic paint; $6,330 for the Prestige package which includes: S-line exterior, 19″ wheels with all-season rubber, Audi navigation with MMI touch pad, Audi Connect with 6-months free (Audi’s in-car mobile hot spot), front/rear parking sensors with rearview camera, advanced key, 4-zone climate auto control, front seats ventilation, Bose surround sound, HD radio, power steering column adjustment, adaptive headlights, ambient driving lights, and a 7″ color driver information system (which pops up out of the center of the dash, but can be hidden away with the push of a button; Beautiful to look at and use, but sometimes annoying when driving). My car had optional 20″ sexy wheels with summer performance tires, instead of the 19s that come with the Prestige package, and also came with full LED headlights with the standard LED daytime lights. Tack on the $875 destination fee, and you’ve got yourself one beautifully optioned machine, I’d say.

The MMI touchpad navigation was one of the coolest and more useful pieces of tech I’ve used in a car. It takes a little getting used to, but you’ll like it. It allows you to write letters and numbers with your fingers when entering an address in the nav screen.

A couple of days after getting the Audi I left for the mountains with two of my best friends, a brother-sister combo, in tow. We headed southwest to the beautiful mountains of North Carolina, hoping to find some great adventures along the way in the new 2012 Audi A7. Sounds like a dumb brochure, right? Honestly, the highways around here are pretty boring, so finding things to do in a car for nearly 4 hours becomes difficult when you’re over 21. I would have enjoyed playing I-Spy, but my friends would have shouted, “MUTINY!” as they threw me out of the car. So instead I remembered that the Audi had a built-in mobile hot spot for Internet use. Armed with a laptop and a camera, I opted to sit in the passenger seat for a little while snapping some photos and uploading them to the social media ‘verse that RawAutos belongs to.

When packing the car for the mountains, especially with the hatchback, there were many jokes regarding how many dead hookers, illegal aliens, etc. the rear hatch could fit. In the end, the Audi A7 can hold a ton of gear. With one girl in the car, and two guys, the A7 held all of our cares and woes. Again, a woman was on board… That should tell you enough right there. Too be fair, though, I carry more stuff because of laptops, cameras, clothes, and the like. More than the others, I’m guilty of carrying the most crap.

Riding along at 80 mph, it was really interesting being able to watch a YouTube video, or posting status updates to Facebook and Twitter. But now it was time for lunch and a pit stop to find a power inverter, as I had forgotten mine. After a full meal at Sticky Fingers, we set off and found a local Walmart, bought our inverter, and as we were getting back in the car, a girl no older than me (25) was loading her 1999-’02 Infiniti G20 and asked how much the Audi A7 cost. I told her, and we struck up a quick conversation about her seeing one at a local Audi dealer and just being in absolute love with its style. She wasn’t the only one, though. There were many affluent people taking notice and asking about the A7 for the week we had it.

This all brings me to the actual driving portion of the Audi A7. I, like most of the passengers who road in the Audi, had no issues getting in or out. However, my brother noticed, to my slight disagreement (I say slight, because I personally think he was being a bit nit-picky), that the Audi A7 had a decent amount of wind noise. We both agreed that it was most likely due to the pillar-less doors -when you open the doors, there’s no body/molding that covers the glass. My brother also said he wasn’t too fond of the harder ride for a near-70,000 dollar car, a point that no one else riding in the car at any point said they shared. I understand what he felt, but I had no issues with the car being in either Comfort or Dynamic mode -Dynamic being the sportier of the settings. What I believe he was noticing was the slightly rougher ride of the 20″ wheels with summer tires. My personal feelings, as well as the other riders, are that the ride is soft when it needs to be, a bit sportier when you want it to be, but always compliant, with not a lot of jarring road issues noticed in other cars of this caliber with a sporty suspension setup. Everyone agreed that the overall interior quality, particularly the wood, were all up to snuff. Everything felt just right when touching it.

When reaching the triple digits speeds and above, the Audi A7 feels well planted and without any real fault. The Quattro all-wheel drive system keeping everything in check, while the not-so-sporty four spoke steering wheel keeps your hands at ease knowing you have control, but it was lacking a bit of driving feel. I think the A7 has to be the most comfortable riding car I’ve driven at any higher rate of speed. And while you’d never confuse the Audi for a mountain road carver, you will always appreciate its willingness to pivot properly and drive sensibly into each corner. On some of the twistier mountain roads, it would be highly plausible to make a blindfolded passenger believe they were in something from BMW or Porsche.

Speaking of mountain roads, this drives me to my next love of the Audi A7: The 3.0-liter supercharged V6 motor that has to produce more than the 310 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque that Audi claim. The reason I say that is because the amount of thrust the A7 has, even while weighing 4210 lbs, is pretty damn good. For instance, the Porsche Panamera V6 that we tested in April of 2011 had a 300 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque naturally aspirated V6 motor; it also weighed just shy of 3900 lbs. Yet it could only hit 60 mph in about 5.8-seconds with the Sport Chrono package. The Audi A7? Well my buddy, Jonny Lieberman, over at Motor Trend, recently tested an A7 against a Jaguar XJ and Benz CLS. The result of their 0-60 testing was 4.7-seconds… So what explains the 1.1-second difference in straight line speed? Don’t look at me, I just drive the suckers.

Driving at night on mountainous roads can be a treacherous thing, yet the Audi A7 does just fine with its full LED headlights. These bad boys are just nuts. Not once when driving at night did I feel uncomfortable, because the headlights make everything, literally, as clear as day. Then you hit the brights and everything becomes even clearer. The LEDs are also the only lights I’ve ever used that don’t add a different color to anything. No blues, purples, yellows, just a pure white light.

One thing I didn’t like about our test car was the four spoke steering wheel. Some that drove the car said they enjoyed the feel and size of it, but I didn’t get what I wanted out of it in terms of feel for the road. I much prefer the three spoke sport steering wheel Audi offer. Also, the 8-speed tiptronic autobox is great for gas mileage (more on that in a second), but lacks the fun you’d want from a car this good to drive. I’d much rather see a dual-clutch gearbox and torque vectoring rear-diff. Oh wait, I can see that car… in Europe. C’mon, Audi. If you build it, they will buy it, I promise. I guess we’ll just have to wait for the S7 to get all those goodies. No idea when we’ll officially see that car, though.

Even though I’m not fond of the 8-speed automatic gearbox, I was a fan of the gas mileage it could achieve. Audi claim 18 city and 28 highway for the A7, and I was getting about 21-22 mpg in the city and right at 28 on the highway. I remember one of the times I filled the car up I had about 30 miles left on a 430+ mile tank of gas. That was with some city driving, but mostly 80-85 mph highway driving. So the Audi A7 is quite good on a tank of 93 octane.

At the end of the week, I was sad to give the 2012 Audi A7 up. The price point, luxury features, ease of driving, all of it make the A7 just a really nice package. So it has a few faults: The Google Earth navigation couldn’t find a few points of interest, even though Google Maps on my iPhone could; the ride can be a tad firm at times, and the wind noise can get annoying. However, at just shy of 69 grand, I don’t think you can beat the amount of rear leg room, hatch space, and overall ability with a stick. An equivalent Mercedes-Benz CLS550 will run you about $84,843, or just over 16,000 dollars more, with a good bit more performance, maybe a bit more luxury, sure. But in this writer’s opinion, the CLS is no where near as sexy. If the A7 were a woman, I’d totally try and date her. However, she’d probably be too classy for me.

[Photos by Corey Privette]

The Good: Sexy styling coupled with a fun character; Similarly optioned cars from Porsche and Mercedes-Benz can be a teacher’s salary more; iPhone levels of technology and ability.

The Bad: Somewhat stiff ride with the bigger wheels and tires; A decent amount of road noise; Google Earth nav showed fewer points of interest than Google Maps on my iPhone; The 3.0 T badge is annoying when there’s a supercharged badge on the sides.

The Ugly: Uh, I honestly have nothing to put here…

The Truth: The 2012 Audi A7 is quite possibly the best car for any young executive, or the family man who can’t give up his artistic loves and dreams.

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I'm a car, music, and Howard Stern aficionado. I also love planes, trains, anything to do with science and engineering, as well as politics. I'm working on my screenplays, TV shows, and a book or two. Stay tuned to when I'm really famous and even more awesome.

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