Audi A7: Audi’s most overlooked car
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The A7 doesn’t have a long and illustrious model lineage to support it, with an age of just 7 years, it is considerably young from the perspective of a car, and It isn’t a common sight in the UAE. However, it is the creation of legendary German automaker, Audi, who have a knack for consistently producing fantastic luxury and sport vehicles. Read on to find out why we think the A7 deserves a lot more love and recognition than it’s presently being given.
Model Driven: 2017 A7 35 FSI Quattro AWD S-tronic 7-speed dual clutch automatic, 220hp & 380nm of torque 2.8L NA V6, with S-line exterior package as standard, with 19-inch alloy “Titan” wheels and a matte look. Other wheel sizes include 18 (base size), 20 and 21 inches.
This is perhaps the A7’s most unique characteristic. It is a 5-door hatchback/fastback or as Audi calls it, “Sportback” which amalgamates the looks of a coupe and sedan, now this may seem odd to some people but fear not, Audi has managed to make it work brilliantly. The A7 is achingly beautiful, no matter the angle you look at it from, it is simply gorgeous. It boasts a swooping rear end, wide stance, curvaceous silhouette, tastefully selected S-line add ons, and possibly its coolest feature, a spoiler that can be deployed at any time. To complete its look, the A7 wears LED daytime running lights with 18 diodes, and its shape seems to resemble a weapon from the popular Halo videogame series. You can be assured that it’s got your need to draw looks of awe and envy sufficiently covered.
If getting noticed in the day time isn’t enough, both tail and Matrix headlights are fully LED as standard on all models, its headlights are auto adjusting too. This adds another dimension of beauty to the A7 when the sun goes down. Audi has struck all the right chords with the A7’s design, you could get it solely for the purpose of ogling it and you would be justified, so what we have here in sum, is in our opinion, one of the most beautiful cars of this century that masterfully blends aggressiveness and grace.
The geniuses at Audi never fail to create fabulous interiors for its vehicles, and the A7’s is no exception either. Hop into the driver’s seat, and the first thing you’ll notice is the exquisite wooden accents everywhere, the center console, door handles, and the dashboard are all festooned with wood. Second, you’ll notice the tactful use of leather. The steering wheel is covered in stitched leather which makes it feel oh so supple, that you’d be inclined to avoid one handed driving just to make sure both your hands are treated to its embrace. The gear lever has been treated equally, and this creates a conundrum, should you drive with both hands on the wheel? Or keep one hand on the wheel and the other on the gear lever?
The leather party doesn’t stop there. All seats are enveloped in Audi’s signature Valcona leather, which is standard on all A7 models. The driver’s and passenger’s seats come with 4-way lumbar support and a two-tier memory function, which is a sweet spot in terms of seat adjustment options. All of this translated into us sinking into the seats, they are incredibly comfortable, which makes the A7 ideal for long distance cruising.
Third, it has an S-line interior package, once again standard for this model, all doors are garnished with an alcantara lining and the steering wheel has three spokes with shift paddles. These features add a bit of sportiness to the A7’s luxury personality.
There are many tech goodies in the A7 that you can play with. First, it is equipped with Audi’s MMI (Multi Media Interface) system which can be viewed on its 8-inch screen, it integrates Navigation, Media, Telephone and the car’s driving modes and settings. A lot of cars have similar systems, but what caught our attention is just how refreshingly ergonomic it is, the MMI buttons on the center console are arranged in manner that prevents the driver from activating 15 other controls instead of the one that’s needed. Functions that are used frequently such as Navigation and telephone can be used without the need to look at the buttons. We could use its interface like pros in a jiff.
Its route guidance system also comes with voice commands, there are key phrases that the system recognizes and these can be listed by using the command ‘help’ so no need to worry about what to say, if it is the preset phrases, the voice guidance system works just fine, although there were times where the system couldn’t decipher what we said, even if it was said clearly. Alternatively, you can also enter your destination using the nifty touch pad, with your finger as the stylus, and if that’s too easy for you, you could always use the dial to shuffle between letters and press the dial to select each letter. This touch pad has another neat function: you can use it to store a maximum of six radio stations in the numbers highlighted on it (1-6), no more searching for your preferred station, simply press a number that you stored it in and voila. The MMI system has also been seamlessly merged into the gauge cluster, a 7-inch screen right in the middle of it displays all its functions, and the controls to operate it rest on the steering wheel, which are a breeze to use. You can be guaranteed that you won’t fall into a bout of hair splitting rage when using Audi’s MMI.
And for those of you who turn into prehistoric humans without the internet for even a moment, there is the option of turning your car into a giant Wifi hotspot with the optional “Audi Connect” package. The way it works is exactly how you would use a phone SIM card, a SIM card slot will be added to the MMI that will allow you to gain access to the internet.
On an opposing note, this year’s A7 does lack the new swanky ‘Virtual cockpit’ that makes car geeks weak in the knees. Though it would have been a nice addition, there is no need to protest, it is being added slowly but surely to all of Audi’s lineup. Its absence doesn’t diminish the appeal of the A7, since there are many who still vouch for the current digital/analogue gauge cluster.
Furthermore, you also get Bluetooth connectivity for calls and audio playback for upto 2 devices (One for calls and one for audio). We used it to test call clarity, and we’re happy to say it is terrific. You will not be able to tell if the driver is using his phone’s or the car’s microphone. Another problem the dual device connectivity solves is the arguments between driver and passenger, driver handles the calls and well, driving, and the passenger handles the music. Speaking of music, the A7 we tested came with 8 speakers, unfortunately it doesn’t have those super suave Bang & Olufsen speakers that rise from their slots on the doors and dashboard. However, Audi’s in-home system is no letdown, the audio is rich and crisp, you won’t miss a beat from your favorite songs while on the move.
A crucial need for those loyal to freeway fast lanes is cruise control, and the A7 provides it. The model we tested doesn’t come with the adaptive type, however it is an optional extra as part of Audi’s ‘Driver assistance’ package
Finally, a feature that digresses from entertainment, connectivity, and fast lane drivers but is still cool nonetheless, is the A7’s soft closing doors. It makes such a satisfying deep click whenever they close that you’d want to deliberately leave the doors slightly open to hear it work.
Economy & Practicality
You’d be happy to know that the A7 does well in this area too. The model we drove consumes 8.0 liters/100Km and has a large fuel tank with a 65-liter capacity, and a full tank will yield a range of 660Km. Additionally, you can improve fuel economy by 10-15% using the engine’s start/stop system, which is essential for city driving.
The first thing that anyone thinks of when mentioning practicality in a car is, how much boot space does it have? The A7’s got your back here too, it has a capacity of 535 liters, and it can also be opened and closed remotely using the key fob.
With respect to seating, you can comfortably seat 3 people in the back, and an ISOFIX passenger seat mounting for children is standard on all models. Also, you get four zone deluxe climate control, with vents on the arm rest and on the B-pillars, so everyone is always cozy during each journey.
Lastly, the A7 comes equipped with automatic power folding mirrors, you can also fold them manually using the mirror controls in the car to get yourself out of tight parking spots, it’s something you’ll need on the daily to battle those pesky drivers who never learned how to park.
The A7 has a myriad of safety functions. The one we drove had front and rear parking sensors with a reverse camera, although other useful features such as blindspot monitoring, lane departure warning, and 360-degree surround view cameras were missing. They can be added to this A7 should you choose the optional ‘Driver assistance package’ and these attributes come standard in higher A7 models.
Next, which is probably the most important aspect is the number of airbags. You get driver’s and passenger’s airbags, four side airbags (one per door) and two curtain airbags, for a total of 8 airbags. As a measure to add another safety net, the A7 has a function called “Audi pre-sense”. It is a system that preemptively applies brake pressure that slows the car down to reduce the risk of heavy impact damage, and no, as much as you wanted to see it, we didn’t test this, since trying to crash into something intentionally is not a very wise idea.
Driving Experience & Performance
So far, the A7 has ticked all the right checkboxes, but it really comes down to is what it’s like to drive. At your disposal, there are four driving modes: Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual. We tested the first three. Individual mode would prevent us from giving an objective review, since it is meant to tailor the driving experience to your needs. Before delving into each mode, a little general insight on driving the A7.
With its magnetic suspension, succinctly stated, the ride quality is velvety smooth, so smooth in fact, whilst driving on the freeway, we didn’t even notice that we crossed the speed limit! Thankfully, we braked just before the next radar appeared, phew, the digital speed indicator in the gauge cluster assisted us in keeping our speed in check. Its chassis feels heavy and planted, an indicative quality of German engineering, although there is a slight amount of body roll when taking turns at average speeds, it’s quite normal for a luxury car. Furthermore, the A7’s power delivery is fluid and balanced, all thanks to its ingenious Quattro all-wheel drive system, step on the throttle and you experience the automotive equivalent of a brisk walk.
During stop/go city driving, its most useful feature is the automatic brake hold (standard on all models). Roll up to a red light and there is no need to heedlessly shift gears into neutral, this feature amplifies the A7’s comfort of driving to a great degree. Moving on to steering, it is electro-mechanical. This results in it being a bit too floaty for our taste, however many prefer such a steering feel for daily driving. When it’s time to park the A7, the electronic parking brake automatically engages after you remove your seatbelt, it’s basically anti-forgetful drivers. All these factors sum up the A7’s general driving experience, which brings us to its driving modes, in each mode, the engine and transmission behave differently.
Comfort: The A7 is a civilized car, and this mode demonstrates this fact. Engine RPM’s stay in the low 1-2000’s and gear changes cannot be felt or heard, it is a testament to the engineering gone into the transmission. It is not easy to push the engine to get to higher RPM’s in this mode, you’ll have to completely mash the throttle to see any result. You also can’t access much of the engine’s horsepower and torque due to the low RPM zone.
Auto: This is an intuitive mode that adapts to your driving style. It also allows you to extract more power from the engine. RPM’s stay in the same zone as comfort mode but you can get more oomph whenever necessary, the transmission shifts un-noticeably in this mode too. In short, auto mode is a favorable middle ground between comfort and dynamic that is perfect to use for everyday driving.
Dynamic: When this mode is activated, the A7 forgets that it’s a luxury cruising machine. Let’s just say that the engine is now completely unhinged, every shift is visible and can be felt and power delivery is now a sprint instead of a brisk walk. We were having so much fun driving in this mode, that we forgot to review the car! The steering becomes firmer and the throttle becomes gloriously responsive, the gentlest nudge will hurl the car forward rather quickly. The engine in this mode loves to stay at 3000rpm at average speeds. Driving at 60kph? It stays there, 80? Stays there too. Apply more than normal throttle pressure and you can easily reach its 6500 rpm redline. It doesn’t matter how slow you drive; the engine is always ready to give you everything its got in an instant. It feels lighter and more agile too, and since you have more power, you can easily blitz past those drivers who decide to drive at 10kph in front of you when you’re heading towards a green traffic light.
Possibly the most important part (to us anyway) is the sound a great engine makes. Dynamic mode gives just that. When you step on it, the cockpit is filled with the spirited wail of its 6 cylinders, it’s an absolute joy to listen to, and when downshifting, it pops and crackles! The downshifts are visible on the tachometer too! This was a welcome surprise considering the A7 is meant to be a luxury car, and it essentially guarantees a big smile on your face during the dreariest of morning commutes.
The A7's aesthetics stands on par with Italian car manufacturers, and since it is made by German auto-wizards, it drives and handles like a performance car. So if you’re on the hunt for an executive mid-size luxury sedan that’s got all the bells and whistles, but don't want to follow the typical crowd, then this is the car for you.