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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

2018 Audi A7 Review

2018 Audi A7 Review
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It's hard to imagine a more complete mid-size luxury car than the 2018 Audi A7, which balances handling and ride quality with gorgeous styling and above average utility.

The 2018 Audi A7 remains one of the most evocative ways to carry four passengers in comfort. Not only is it one of the most attractive new cars available today, its hatchback configuration delivers stellar utility and its balanced chassis makes it a hoot to drive. 

The A7 is based on the workaday A6, but its heftier price tag brings with it added cargo-hauling ability and a svelte roofline that will have you doing a double-take. It's also offered with more performance as the S7 and the supercar-rivaling RS 7, which we cover separately. 


For 2018, the A7's 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 adds 7 horsepower, bringing the total to 340 hp, and there's a new Competition package on the options list that includes a firmer suspension and some styling bits that neither add to nor detract from this hatchback's styling. The A7 remains available in Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels in addition to the new range-topping Competition model. 

All A7s are all-wheel drive and they're fitted exclusively with an 8-speed automatic. Given their size and heft, they're remarkably agile and rapid. Only when pushed hard on a track do they feel a little nose-heavy as they start to understeer, but there's plenty of warning. They're sporty without being harsh, even with the largest wheel selection ordered. 

Inside, the A7 remains identical to the A6, at least in the front passenger compartment. Rear seat riders have a little less head room than in the four-door, but that's a fair trade-off for a cargo area that can swallow larger items even with its sloping roofline. All models have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, as well as an inductive charging pad and Audi's MMI infotainment system that's slick and intuitive—especially with extra-cost Google Earth data streamed directly into the cabin. A Bang & Olufsen audio setup should please even the most discerning passengers.
And for those intent on not driving, the A7 is available with a full complement of tech like adaptive cruise control, night vision, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking.

The A7 is also reasonably fuel efficient given its size and underhood power. It is rated by the EPA at 20 mpg city, 30 highway, 24 combined.

Styling
It may be beginning to gray at its temples, but the Audi A7 is as sexy as ever—inside and out.

Though it's a follow-up to the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class, the Audi A7 does the low-roof luxury car thing even better—and it has a hatchback, to boot. 

The A7 stands out a bit from the A6 up front, with some minor front fascia revisions that deliver a more hunkered-down look. But things are much more different beginning with the aggressive rake of the roofline toward the rear, which tapers off into an elegant fastback shape and a sharp tail. Its rear lamps are clean and crisp and a small spoiler pops up at speed to improve downforce. The optional Competition package, a new feature for 2018, features black and red styling elements and special 20-inch alloy wheels wrapped in performance rubber.

Inside, the A7 is all business, although dressier trim options can sport things up a bit for those who want something different. The horizontal layout puts controls within an easy reach, including Audi's MMI infotainment controller and laptop-like touchpad. A high-resolution LCD monitor rises to the occasion from the dashboard's center and, when equipped, can display Google Earth imagery via a built-in 4G LTE antenna. It's an extra cost feature, but one we'd consider popping for.  

Performance
Poised and polished, the A7 is excellent in routine driving.

Audi's A7 lives up to its luxury car positioning with its compliant ride, its adept handling, and especially the traction of its all-wheel-drive system.

It's a balanced machine that's enjoyable up until its very limits, although we wish its steering offered a little more feedback from the road. Still, it rates a very high 8 out of 10 in our eyes.

A smooth and sonorous 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 rated at 340 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque is standard and it's a 7 hp improvement over last year's model. We've not yet driven the 340 hp model, but we doubt it will be any less satisfying than last year's.

A fast-shifting, almost too smart 8-speed automatic is the only gearbox on offer. It shuttles power to all four wheels via Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system, which provides the A7 with neutral grip and little of the nose-heaviness long endemic to Audis. Ultimately, our only real gripe is its steering, which is light and devoid of communication. It's the same complaint we could register about any mid-size sedan, however, so it's hardly specific to the A7.

Even with the optional 20-inch alloy wheels, the A7 rides firmly but with a high degree of compliance on even the bumpiest pavement.  

Those who demand more power won't find much to complain about in the S7 and RS 7, but we think the standard A7's ride, handling, and performance balance is top notch and deserving of the admittedly hefty price of entry. 

Comfort & Quality
Though there are a few compromises caused by its sleek roof line, the Audi A7 is beautifully wrought.

The 2018 Audi A7's interior is a beautiful place with upscale furnishing and comfortable front seats, but its sleek roofline dictates a tighter back seat than you might expect.

For that, we've awarded it 8 out of 10 points, with four extra for its front seat comfort, its finish, its cargo space, and its luxurious feel and one deducted for that surprisingly lousy rear seat head room. 

Even a base A7 feels upmarket inside with nice wood trim and plentiful leather. Pile on the options and you'll be rewarded with fancier trim all around and more adjustment to the heated and air conditioned seats. It's not quite the same story in the second row, where there's decent room for adults in the outboard seats, provide they're not too tall. It's less of a head room issue than it is an ingress and egress given that Audi has thoughtfully cut out scallops for the rear seat passengers, but there's only so much they can do about the lowered access.

The A7's cargo space is noticeably better than the A6 with its long, relatively shallow space. The rear seats can be folded down for longer item storage and it's possible to stuff a bicycle back there with its front wheel removed. Then again, a wagon would offer even more space—if only consumers would buy them. 

Safety
The Audi A7 is available with a wide complement of safety tech, but it hasn't been crash-tested.

Audi fits numerous standard safety features to its 2018 A7 as standard, but it hasn't been crashed by either the federal or insurance industry-funded agencies. As a result, we cannot rate it here—though we have little reason to doubt its credentials.

Just why hasn't it been tested? Well, the easy answer is its hefty price tag and its relatively low sales, which haven't made it a priority for either the NHTSA or the IIHS.

But if they do wind up smacking one into a wall, we'll update this space. 

In the meantime, it's worth noting that the A7 comes standard with a full complement of features like airbags, Bluetooth connectivity, a rearview camera, parking sensors front and rear, and blind-spot monitors. It's also offered with a package that includes adaptive cruise control that can bring it to a halt and start things up again, forward collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, and automatic high beams, as well as as surround-view camera system. An additional package includes a night-vision camera that detects animals and humans after the sun sets. 

Features
Three trim levels, all well-equipped and easily added to, make the Audi A7 a hedonist's delight.

Audi's 2018 A7 range is offered in three trim levels—Premium Plus, Prestige, and Competition—each of which delivers an impressive complement of features.

The sky's nearly the limit when it comes to the Audi A7, so we've awarded it a 9 out of 10 on account of its stellar navigation system, some advanced connectivity features like Google Earth, a high standard equipment content, and the ability to build one up to your heart's desire. 

That's even better for 2018, with a new range-topping Competition model. But let's start with the Premium Plus, which comes standard with heated and power-adjustable leather seats, automatic climate control, a rearview camera, a moonroof, LED headlights, a power lift gate, and 19-inch alloy wheels. Opt for the Prestige, and you'll add more front-seat adjustability, 630 watts of Bose audio, a head-up display, and air conditioned front seats. 

The Competition builds on the Prestige with numerous exterior styling updates like black exterior mirrors, matte finish 20-inch wheels, and red brake calipers, and it also has a sport suspension with a more aggressively tuned rear differential designed to make it handle with even more tenacity. 

Audi has long been a tech leader and the A7 is no different. The brand's MMI infotainment is fairly intuitive given its complexity and it benefits from both a control knob and a  laptop-esque touchpad that grows familiar with use. It even includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, but it's not a touchscreen, meaning its knob and pad are required for all inputs. An extra monthly charge delivers Google Earth satellite maps directly to the car and turns it into a mobile 4G LTE wi-fi hotspot. 

Major options include the Driver Assistance Plus package with its corner view cameras that provide a nearly 360-degree view, automatic high beam headlights, adaptive cruise control with the ability to bring the A7 to a halt and start up again, active lane control, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking.  

Fuel Economy
The Audi A7 is surprisingly thrifty given its power and performance.

For a vehicle capable of accelerating so quickly from a standstill in any kind of weather, the 2018 Audi A7 is remarkably thrifty. 

Its 3.0-liter V-6 is rated at 20 mpg city, 29 highway, 23 combined on premium fuel, which isn't bad for a hot rod in luxurious clothing. That merits it a 7 out of 10 on our scale.

The A7 benefits from its slick-shifting 8-speed automatic, which uses its wide gear ratio range to keep the engine spinning at low speeds most of the time. 


What's no longer part of the package is a 3.0-liter turbodiesel that was offered until late 2015 when Audi parent Volkswagen admitted that it had intentionally cheated on the EPA's emissions test. The turbodiesel engine isn't likely to make a return to this market any time soon—if ever. 

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