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2019 Audi A7 Review

More practical and more elegant than the A6 sedan, the Audi A7 drives better than ever and takes on next-level technology.

Luxury works best with style. The 2019 Audi A7 delivers both in spades, and throws in a measure of utility to boot. New for 2019, the A7 kicks off its second generation with an injection of technology both under the skin and in the cabin.

A stronger, lighter structure helps it drive better than ever, a powerful engine with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system delivers smooth power, and a new two-screen infotainment system highlights the high-quality interior.

These strengths make the A7 one of our higher rated cars with a score of 8.7 out of 10. 

We drove the 2019 A7 on an early press event in South Africa. We'll update these driving impressions late in 2018, once we've sampled it on U.S. roads.

Audi also offers the S7 and RS 7. Those cars continue as previous-generation models, and are covered in a separate report.

With the 2019 update, Audi designers didn’t fix what wasn’t broken. The design uses the same basic shape as the outgoing model, but some of the details have changed. The grille up front sits lower and wider, and sharper creases highlight the car’s lines, with the lower character line and rear haunches noticeably more prominent. The hood gets lines of its own for the first time, and the rear end now features a taillight graphic that runs the width of the car.

Under the more sculpted hood sits an engine that churns out the same 340 horsepower as the outgoing model. However, this 3.0-liter V-6 now takes its forced induction from a turbocharger instead of a supercharger, and torque improves from 325 to 369 pound-feet. It also adds a 48-volt mild-hybrid system that smooths out and quickens the stop/start function and keeps the climate control on at stops. Instead of an 8-speed automatic, the A7 uses a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission that sends the engine’s power to all four wheels via all-wheel drive.

All this rests on a new spaceframe that trades solely aluminum for a mix of various steels and aluminum; the idea is to use right material for the job. It forms a stronger and lighter architecture that can be enhanced with an air suspension with adaptive dampers, rear-wheel steering, and a sport differential that vectors torque on the rear axle.

Due this fall, Audi will offer the A7 in Premium Plus and Prestige models. Both come standard with Audi’s new MMI Touch Control interface that uses two touchscreens to control the infotainment functions. The larger top screen is for more common commands, while the screen on the bottom handles less common functions and accepts written inputs. It’s a bold step away from past versions of MMI, but it seems like a good one in our limited exposure.

The tech continues in the safety department, where the A7 will get just about every active safety feature one can imagine, including two self-parking systems, and a unique forward cross-traffic system. In some markets, the A7 gets a Level-3 self-driving Traffic Jam Pilot system that can follow traffic at 37 mph and slower, but it's not likely to appear in the U.S.

An evolutionary, sharper-creased take on the A7’s signature tapered roof creates a sexy exterior, while the 2019 A7’s interior combines technology with luxury.

Conceived as a reaction to the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class, the Audi A7 managed to improve upon the coupe-like sedan theme, only it was a hatchback instead of a sedan. The A7 enters its second generation for 2019 and adds a more chiseled look with sharper lines. It may not be quite as elegant as the first generation, but the A7’s tapering roofline is still sexy, and the interior bristles with more technology than ever to go with its unmistakable luxury.

We rate the A7 a 9 out of 10 for styling, giving it points for both an excellent interior and an excellent exterior.

The A7 retains its basic shape, but the lines are more pronounced and the edges sharper for 2019. It results in a look that may not conjure the elegance of the original but still inspires lust. The graceful fastback shape, the car’s most defining characteristic, still tapers to the rear. Audi calls the A7 a Sportback, but that’s just another name for a hatchback.

The dimensions change slightly as the wheelbase grows 0.5 inch and the total length increases 0.8 inch.

The sharper creases are most noticeable from the profile and at the front, where the brand’s signature five-pointed grille rests lower and wider, the outer air ducts get taller and blockier, and character lines now flow over the hood. Along the sides, the character line at the top of the lower sill is sharper, and so is the line that defines a haunch over the rear wheel.

At the rear, a spoiler integrated into the hatch pops up at 75 mph, and helps form one continuous line that tucks back into the body at a 45-degree angle headed toward the rear wheels. The taillights now extend across the whole rear end. These LED lights put on a show when the driver unlocks the car and/or closes the doors.

Inside, the design is more NASA and less Victorian study than it has been. Two screens dominate the center console, with a third available in the dash. Audi cants these screens toward the driver. Otherwise, the layout is very horizontal, and somewhat sterile as it plays up the technology theme.

Quick, smooth, agile, the 2019 Audi A7 is a polished ride.

The 2019 Audi A7 mixes a compliant ride with sure-footed dynamics and a strong, responsive powertrain. Those strengths all factor into our 8 rating for performance. 

The 2019 Audi A7 makes the same horsepower as the outgoing model, but with a different powertrain. It uses a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 instead a supercharged engine of the same size. Horsepower remains unchanged at 340, but torque increases from 325 to 369 pound-feet. The A7 also trades an 8-speed automatic for a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.

The V-6 works with the 7-speed transmission to provide refined thrust. Zero to 60 mph arrives in a rather quick 5.3 seconds. The dual-clutch transmission shifts smoothly and provides quick downshifts needed for ready passing punch. It’s amusing to think that the S7 will be quicker and the likely RS 7 variant quicker still.
Those cars will also offer improved handling versus the A7’s competent natural dynamics. Audi builds the A7 on a new spaceframe that combines aluminum with various steels to use the right material in the right spot. It replaces an aluminum spaceframe, and it’s sturdier and lighter, with a 10-percent improvement in torsional rigidity and a 30-percent increase in lateral rigidity. Total weight drops by about 240 pounds, at least in the European model (U.S. specs aren’t yet available).

When it arrives, the A7 will come with all-wheel drive with a standard 40/60 front/rear torque bias. This system can send about 80 percent of the torque to the axle with grip.

The base suspension will feature steel springs and fixed dampers, and a sport version of that setup may be offered as well, with a 0.4-inch lower ride height and stiffer tuning. Expect the top-end suspension to include air springs with adaptive dampers.

The air suspension/adaptive dampers setup makes the A7 glide comfortably over ruts and bumps, even with the optional 21-inch tires. It also provides controlled, agile handling, with quick, predictable steering and little body lean.

Audi may offer two features to improve the A7’s handing to near-S7 levels. Dynamic all-wheel steering and Audi’s sport differential help the large A7 feel smaller and pivot through corners with a sporty flair. The all-wheel steering varies the front steering ratio between 9.5 and 16.5:1. More importantly, it adds rear-axle steering that can turn the rear wheels up to 5 degrees opposite of the fronts at parking lot speeds to cut 3.6 feet off the turning circle. At speeds up to 37 mph, however, it can turn the rear wheels 2-2.5 degrees opposite the fronts, thus virtually shortening the wheelbase. Audi's sport differential vectors torque on the rear axle.

The A7 has the brakes to match that sportiness, too. It comes standard with six-piston calipers that clamp down on 13.8-inch ventilated front rotors. We drove it hard along twisty coastal roads, and never experienced a soft pedal.

Comfort & Quality
The 2019 Audi A7’s cabin boasts high-quality materials, bristles with technology, and offers real cargo utility.

The 2019 Audi A7’s hatchback shape affords more cargo space than sedan competitors, though the sloping roof cuts into rear head room. Exemplary materials create a luxurious cabin, and Audi now focuses more on technology with new touchscreens. We rate the A7 a 9 for comfort and quality, adding points for front seat comfort, cargo space, fit and finish, and the large infotainment screens. 

The A7’s hatchback design gives it considerably more cargo room than a sedan, and Audi has even increased the interior space this year. Front-seat occupants sit on comfortable, supportive seats with lots of adjustments and plenty of space.

The wheelbase grows by one-half inch, but the interior adds 0.8 inches of length for additional rear leg room. While the backseat is generally comfortable, the slope of the roofline cuts into head room for taller passengers.

In addition to its good looks, the hatch offers real utility. It boasts a roomy 18.9 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat, which meets or beats any sedan’s trunk, and that can open up to 49.1 cubic feet with the rear seats down. That’s as much as several small crossovers.

Two large screens dominate the center console. They are part of the new MMI Touch Response system that replaced last year’s single screen and rotary controller. Buyers also can add the Audi Virtual Cockpit digital gauges that adds a 12.3-inch screen in the instrument panel. Together, these screens create an antiseptic look that isn’t as inviting as it has been. Nonetheless, Audi still outfits the A7 with high-quality materials such as open-pore wood, multiple choices of leather, Alcantara, and metal trim. It all fits together with precision, and 60 colors of ambient lighting highlight the contours and help the driver find controls at night.

A solid structure and a vast array of safety features should make the 2019 Audi A7 one of the safer cars on the road.

The 2019 Audi A7 hasn’t yet been crash tested by federal and independent safety officials.

However, it comes with a full spate of safety features, including some rudimentary self-driving technology. Without those crash-test scores, though, we can’t give rate it for safety. 

Expect the standard safety equipment to include a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, and blind-spot monitors.

The A7 can be had with 24 total sensors, including 12 ultrasonic sensors for parking, four cameras for a surround view, a front camera, four mid-range radar modules, a long-range radar, and a front laser scanner. This equipment makes several additional systems available.

Also on offer will be two automatic parking systems (including one that parks the car in a garage using a smartphone), night vision, a surround-view camera system, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, a forward cross-traffic system that supplements the forward-collision warnings, rear-cross traffic alerts, an exit warning system that alerts occupants to oncoming cars or bicyclists, active lane control, and automatic high beams.

The A7 comes well equipped and Audi will sell you the features to tailor it to your tastes.

Audi plans to offer the 2019 A7 in its two higher trim levels, Premium Plus and Prestige, and both are well-equipped to begin with several optional extras for each. Building on Audi’s reputation for excellent infotainment systems, the A7 gets a new two-screen MMI Touch Response system that does away with buttons and the rotary controller in favor of touch controls and voice commands.

Given its high level of technology and standard features, plus the ability to add more equipment, we rate the A7 a 9 out of 10 for features. 

Audi hasn’t yet detailed how much the A7 will cost nor its standard or optional features.

If the 2019 model is equipped like the 2018, the Premium Plus will come standard with  automatic climate control, heated and power-adjustable leather seats, navigation, a sunroof, LED headlights, a power liftgate, and 19-inch alloy wheels, among many other items. The Prestige should add cooling and more adjustments for the front seats, a head-up display, and a high-end audio system.

Performance options should include a sport suspension with firmer tuning and a 0.4-inch lower ride height, an air suspension paired with adaptive dampers, the sport differential, and the adaptive steering system. Also look for 20- and 21-inch wheels and tires, laser high-beam headlights, a higher line navigation system with real-time traffic and Google Earth views, a 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system, and the safety features mentioned above.  

The MMI Touch Response system is a new direction for a brand that has been a leader in infotainment. Touch controls and voice commands now trigger functions instead of the rotary knob. The top 10.1-inch touchscreen handles navigation, music, and phone functions, while the lower 8.6-inch screen displays drive modes, changes climate settings, and accepts handwritten inputs for navigation addresses, phone numbers, and the like.

Powered by the latest graphic chip sets, MMI Touch Response works quickly, reacts to common pinch and swipe controls, and provides haptic feedback so users know commands have been accepted.

It seems logically laid out, but the learning curve may be steep for some, and we want more time with it before saying it works well for everyday use.

Fuel Economy
Given its power and size, the 2019 Audi A7 shouldn’t go too hard on gas.

Months away from release, Audi hasn’t reported fuel economy numbers for the 2019 A7. However, with what should be a thriftier engine, EPA ratings should be slightly better than the 24 mpg combined of the 2018 model.

We’re withholding our score for now until official data becomes available. 

The 2019 Audi A7 features a 48-volt mild-hybrid system that can shut off the engine at stoplights. It could aid fuel economy, but only slightly. The turbocharged engine also may be slightly more efficient than the outgoing supercharged engine, though the 2019’s 7-speed lacks the additional gear of the outgoing 8-speed transmission.

The 2018 A7 was EPA-rated at 20 mpg city, 30 highway, 24 combined. Expect the 2019 model to be there or slightly better.

Overseas, the 48-volt hybrid system can also “coast” by shutting off the engine between 34 and 99 mph under light loads to save fuel. Audi determined the system didn’t restart fast enough for American tastes, so it won’t come to our shores, at least initially. Its addition could bump highway fuel economy by perhaps 1 mpg.


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