2012 Audi A7 Sportback

12AudiA7

Audi Gets a Sleek Four-Door Coupe

Audi has gotten into the “four-door coupe” business, joining its German rivals, BMW and Mercedes. Designing a sedan that looks like a coupe is no simple task. Often the rear quarter of the car looks bulbous. But this is not he case with the Audi—the A7 Sportback is a stunning design that should give other luxury automakers something to think about.

One of the things that makes the A7 so attractive is the graceful arc of the roof line. It doesn’t appear stretched artificially to compensate for the length of the body. Complementing the roof are the well-proportioned, frameless side windows that enhance the coupe effect. At the front, the massive “single frame” Audi grille is flanked by LED rimmed headlamps that give the A7 a slightly sinister look. Completing the picture, the squared off rear facia contains just the right amount of detail to make the view from the rear interesting.

Audi has well deserved reputation for designing artistically functional interiors, and the cabin of the A7 is certainly that, and gorgeous too. My test car featured a twin-cockpit design with an inset dash, trimmed in dark walnut wood. The leather-clad seats were finished in a soft cream color that provided a pleasing contrast. Aluminum accents on the doors, dash and console added a bit of sparkle.

The Sportback provides comfortable transport for four. Front passengers have eight-way power seats that can be heated and cooled. Those in the back get individual buckets that are fine for adults, if they are not too tall. A hatchback trunk at the rear is shallow, but will handle nearly 25-cu.-ft. of baggage normally, and about twice that amount with the rear seats folded down.

Audi’s Multi Media Interface (MMI) that controls audio, telephone and navigation functions now includes a touch panel that enable you to write an address using your finger. However, the feature that will really wow your friends is the MMI display screen that slides out from the top of the dash and then rotates up at the start of the engine. This screen can display Google Earth images when the optional navigation system is selected.

Audi equips the A7 with the expected luxury items, like a power liftgate, satellite radio, a moonroof and pushbutton entry and start—all standard. Buyers can also order more exotic features at extra cost. Adaptive cruise control, night vision assist and a Bang and Olufsen sound system are just a few of the goodies that are available in option packages.

However, for real driving pleasure, it’s what’s in the engine bay and under the sheetmetal that counts. Audi powers the Sportback with its supercharged 3.0-liter, V-6 that pumps out 310 hp. This motor is teamed with a very smooth shifting eight-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox. Sixty-mph can come up in just 5.5 seconds. Quattro all-wheel drive directs 60-percent of the power to the rear wheels in normal driving, but can shift torque, back and forth, between front and rear, as needed.

The A7 also comes with Audi Drive Select, which alters throttle response, transmission shifts and steering effort, depending on which of the four modes you select. The “Comfort” mode is very relaxed as the name implies. The “Normal” setting is more responsive and good for everyday driving. “Dynamic” is great for your favorite country road, and “Individual” enables you to mix and match various settings. Surprisingly, Drive Select does not alter suspension characteristics.

My favorite mode was Dynamic. When I hit the accelerator, the A7 stepped out quickly. The shifts felt more crisp, and the taut steering conveyed more feel of the road. The A7 felt like it was up on its toes. Adding to the driving pleasure, the Quattro AWD system gets the power to the wheels that can use it to the best effect, allowing the A7 to corner like it’s on rails. Yet, the ride quality remains comfortable—more so if you stick with the standard-size wheels, rather than the optional 20-inchers.

The Audi A7 Sportback has it all— style, power, handling and comfort, however all of this goodness comes at considerable cost. The base price is $60,125. My test car, equipped with the optional Prestige package and 20-inch wheels had a bottom line of $68,360.

Snapshot Review:

Stunning Good Looks
Excellent Power
Great Handling

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