Audi A7, 2012 car review

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The early 2012 Audi A7 3.0 TFSI quattro is a generally outstanding four-door hatchback sedan that looks much like a rakish coupe.

But the $59,250 A7 is expensive with desirable options, such as its Sport Package with items like 20-inch wheels and a sport suspension (vs. standard 18-inch) wheels.

The bottom-line price of the A7 I tested was $86,220, including that package and a bunch of high-tech items such as a navigation system and rearview camera. The A7 is loaded with comfort, convenience and safety equipment, including  power sunroof, so one need not add a thing—except perhaps the $1,500 Sport Package my test A7 had for sharper moves, with 20-inch (vs. standard 18-inch) tires and a sport suspension.

You can get adaptive cruise control and side assist features that help prevent ramming a vehicle that sneaks up alongside you or one that’s too close ahead —besides night vision assist. Technical buffs will appreciate the MMI interface feature that integrates audio, navigation and telephone systems into one system by combining a thumb-wheel control with Audi’s new touchpad input.

Audi A7, 2012 car review 7

Also offered are local search and Wi-Fi connectivity for up to eight devices enabling occupants to surf the internet, download videos or check email.

Audi’s typically oversized grille looks OK on the A7 with its coupe-like styling, but the aerodynamic low front end will cost you more than a few bucks if you accidentally hit a high curb with it. And avoid curbs with those costly wheels, which hold low profile tires with little sidewall protection.

The highly refined A7 looks both expensive and sporty, with a steeply raked windshield and a low, flowing roofline that sweeps down at the rear and disguises the presence of the rear doors.

The A7 is hefty with a 4,260-pound curb weight. But never mind because its smooth supercharged 3-liter direct-injection V-6 provides 310 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque at a fairly low 2,900 rpm.Audi A7, 2012 car review 8

Moreover, for a high-performance 300-plus horsepower sedan with all-wheel drive, its estimated fuel economy of 28 mpg on the highway is laudable, thanks partly to the car’s responsive eight-speed automatic transmission. City economy isn’t bad, either, at 18 mpg.

The A7 is slow off the line, but then takes off like a rocket. The transmission can be easily manually shifted with the console shifter or steering wheel paddles, which in  the Sport Package.. A twin turbo V-8 is said to be in the cards for a hot rod version of the car

But why bother with a V-8? The 0-60 mph time with the masterful turbo V-6 is only 5.4 seconds, and it’ll hit 100 mph in 13.5 seconds. I found the A7 does 60-80 mph passing maneuvers on highways in short order without “breathing” hard. Small badges that say “supercharged” are on the front fenders. They look nifty, but seem out of place on such a refined car — sporty as it is.

Disappointingly, despite dual sexy looking exhaust pipe tips, the A7 is as quiet as an economy car. It only emits a nice snarl during hard acceleration.Audi A7, 2012 car review 9

The quick steering is a little over-assisted at low speeds, but tightens up appropriately above about 40 mph for good control at higher speeds. My test car’s suspension delivered  a serene ride, shrugging off bumps; I expected a firmer ride with the optional low-profile tires and sport suspension.

Audi makes good use of aluminum to keep the A7’s weight down, but its weight can be felt if you’re really pushing it around bends. Audi’s highly accomplished standard all-wheel drive system helps out here, and curves can be taken at impressive speeds. The brakes are powerful and have good pedal feel.

Large door handles and wide doors make it easy to slip into the quiet, beautifully crafted interior, which has easily read gauges, tilt-telescopic wheel and a pop-up dashboard screen. But small partial digital readouts for the coolant temperature and fuel level seem odd. Big outside mirrors help driver visibility. They fold against the side windows when the car is parked to avoid damage.

The large front seats are supportive, but there’s room for only four tall adults because the center of the rear seat can only be used if a big pillow is brought along on short trips. That area is intended for a large pull-down armrest, which has rather flimsy looking pop-out cupholders. Rear windows don’t roll down all the way.

Front cupholders are well-placed to avoid spills, and all doors have pockets, although the glovebox won’t hold much more than the owner’s manual and a pair of gloves. The covered dual-level front console bin is only moderately deep.

The power tailgate swings open to reveal a large, although somewhat high, cargo area, which can be enlarged considerably by flipping the rear seatbacks forward. They sit commendably flat when flipped forward.

The hood raises on twin struts to reveal a terribly crowded engine compartment.

In all, the Audi A7 3.0 TFSI quattro is a useful addition to the Audi line.

Dan Jedlicka has been an automotive journalist for more than 40 years. To read more of his new and vintage car reviews, visit: www.danjedlicka.com.

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