Saturday, February 18, 2012

Road Test: 2012 Audi A7 3.0 TFSI

. Saturday, February 18, 2012

Having received such awards as Automobile Magazine's 2011 "Automobile of the Year" and the 2011 "Esquire Car of the Year," it's clear that the 2012 Audi A7 is an amazing automobile. While we'll expand on its many finer points later on, we do want to emphasize the obvious; the new A7 is simply gorgeous. Although, it takes more than just a pretty face and curvacious figure to win our affection. There has to be just as much substance as style. Could Audi's new Sportback be the perfect package? Read on to find out.

Starting first by popping the hood, we find a 3.0-liter V6 that, despite a confusing TFSI nameplate, delivers 310 supercharged horsepower and 325 lb/ft of torque. Essentially a less potent version of the S4's mill, the A7's 3.0T managed to expel from me nearly the same number of laughs, grins, "awesomes" and occasional affirmative expletive as the S4; all despite being a larger car. For you left-brainers out there, this equates to a 5.4 second run to 60 mph, on to a limited top speed of 130 mph. Not bad for weighing over 4,000 pounds.

But straight line performance is cheap. In an effort to explore the A7's handling capabilities, we made use of the many winding, Pennsylvania country roads we happen to have nearby. The first step in back-road pleasure in the A7 is to locate the car's ride settings within the MMI system and turn the dial to "dynamic." From there, move the gear lever all the way back, selecting "S" rather than "D." This combination both stiffens the A7's suspension and directs the standard 8-speed automatic transmission to hold gears longer; maximizing as much power and torque as possible, whilst remaining firmly planted at each apex. Coupled with the light feel of the A7's electromechanical power steering and you may forget there is still another row of seats and long hatch behind you.

Which speaking of rear seats and hatch, brings us to the more domestic side of the A7. Coincidentally, Waterfest (the nation's largest VW/Audi car show) happened to fall within the same time as our seven-day road test. This not only provided an excellent opportunity to showcase the new A7 to thousands of VAG-enthusiasts, but also gave us a chance to cram as much stuff into the "trunk" as possible. Unfortunately we forgot to snap a picture of the result but this is what we brought: 2 large coolers (the kind with wheels and a handle), a case of bags of potato chips, 2 folding chairs, 2 backpacks with camera gear and a front-grille from a B7 A4 (for a swap meet). Everything fit with a surprising amount of room to spare, which for us was a perfect testament to the A7's Avant-like utility, without the unjust American stigma of a "station wagon."

Further inside, the A7's cockpit is very reminiscent of the A8. A familiar dash layout and design that is now a standard sight even in the new 2012 A6. We will however give higher marks to A8's center console, boasting a more ergonomic arrangement—thanks to the layout of MMI controls in relation to a brilliantly designed gear selector. Also, for those over 6 feet tall, the A7's rear seating may be slightly uncomfortable, especially getting in and out of the backseats. While headroom was ample for us once seated, we did have to make sure to duck a bit upon entering and exiting the car. An unavoidable consequence of the A7's swooping roof line.

While we were clearly smitten with "our" A7 at this point, the general public doesn't always share the same appreciation as us quattroholics. For instance, when we reviewed the 2011 A8 last March, I explained that "aside from an audacious face, the 2011 Audi A8 is surprisingly understated." Noting how we expected to "turn heads" in our $100k+ (as tested) Audi flagship sedan; when in fact, we received little more than an occasional glance. This was far from the case in the A7. Every moment behind the wheel was like a walk down the runway. From admiring stares by a wide array of passing motorists, to the many "hey, nice car" comments at the car wash and gas station, the A7 easily received more attention than any car we've tested at this point.

After living with the car for seven days, I truly had a hard time finding any significant faults with the new A7. With show-stopping good looks, plentiful power and performance and abundant utility, the A7 had lived up our highest expectations. Finding a special blend of both style and substance, it's clear to us that the 2012 Audi A7 is indeed, the perfect automotive package.

Key Stats:

- 3.0-liter TFSI supercharged V6 engine
- 310 horsepower and 325 lb/ft torque
- 8-speed automatic Tiptronic transmission w/ DSP
- quattro all-wheel drive w/ ESP (Electronic Stabilization Program)
- 0-60 mph in 5.4 seconds
- 130 mph limited top speed
- 18 MPG city/28 MPG highway

As Tested:

2012 Audi A7 3.0 TFSI quattro Auto Tiptronic Sedan - $59,250.00
Dakota Gray Metallic paint - $475.00
Velvet beige interior with dark carpet - Included
Eight-speed Tiptronic transmission - Included
Prestige Package - $6,330.00
20" wheels with summer performance tires - $1,200.00
Audi side assist - $500.00
Audi Connect/Google Earth - Included
Destination Charge - $875.00

Total price as tested: $68,630.00 (fuel, license, title fees, taxes and dealer installed accessories are not included)

Words: Adam Bush
Photos: Matt Richards