Reviews

2014 Audi A7 Walk Around

Like the A6 and A8, the A7 uses signature Audi design cues like the large, boxy grille opening, horizontal headlamps and large horizontal air intakes underneath the headlamps. The matching upswept angles of the headlamps and air intakes, on the corners of the rounded nose, suggest motion, if not flight. On the new RS 7, the front end uses aluminum matte optic grille LED headlamps surrounded by darkened trim and a unique front bumper that features honeycomb grille inserts and front blade in matte aluminum. The RS 7 is also 1.7 inches longer than the other variants, with a wheelbase three millimeters longer. All models have a slick drag coefficient of 0.30 Cd.

From the side, the silhouette of the Audi A7 is sleek despite its hatch-like design, with a sloping fastback roofline that’s more like the Jaguar XF than any of the other four-door coupes. Side mirrors on the RS 7s are matte aluminum, or optional carbon fiber.

From the rear, the stretching roofline and glass of the A7 give it a retro look, like some of the fastback sports cars of the 1950s. There’s an arcing, integrated rear spoiler that automatically raises at 80 mph and retracts at 50; or it can be deployed manually. Angular tail lamps bear a clear Audi family resemblance, and the high rear bumper is accented below with a rear diffuser.

On the new RS 7, the diffuser sits slightly lower and is anchored by huge dual oval-shaped exhaust pipes.

Interior

All variants of the A7 have a lovely interior, as is to be expected from Audi. The dashboard suggests a wide horizontal arc, wrapping around the driver and into the front doors. Even standard leather is soft and supple. Upholstery in the S7 is in a gorgeous diamond-quilted pattern, while the new RS 7 employs honeycomb-shaped stitching. There’s a variety of trim available, depending on the model, including carbon fiber in the new RS 7.

The beautiful instrument panel stands out before the driver’s eyes, perfectly framed by the three-spoke sport steering wheel with spokes at 3 and 9 o’clock. The white-on-black numbers on the tachometer and speedometer are crystal clear (RS 7 variants get red needles). Between them there’s a digital display with all the right information, that allows you to switch between short-term memory or long-term memory, for example with fuel mileage. The excellent thing about this display is that all the information is there at all times: no scrolling. It all fits without being crowded. And it’s readable in the sun.

The standard Audi A7 now seats five, replacing last year’s standard twin rear bucket seats with a rear, three-passenger bench. The S7 and RS 7 models are four-seaters. Seats are comfortable enveloping, with a wide range of adjustment. There’s acceptable legroom in back, with 37 inches. The rear cargo area offers a spacious 24.5 cubic feet (compared with a miniscule 41.1 cubes in the A6 sedan). The 60/40 rear seatback flips down to a flat floor, and an automatic liftgate comes standard on all models.

Visibility out the expansive rear glass is good, when it’s not obscured by a persistent broad reflection from the beige interior in our A7, so bad in the sun that we had to back up blind; maybe the reflection won’t appear with black interior. The sideview mirrors automatically fold at 45-degree angles when you park, but they don’t unfold fast enough when you jump in your car and go, for example out of a parking space along the curb.

Standard on all 2014 models is Audi’s MMI user interface with navigation and Audi Connect, which allows users to turn the car into a WiFi hotspot for passengers’ wireless devices (subscription is required, but it’s included for the first six months). We love the Google Earth display, which is extremely detailed, although some who are used to looking at more basic map displays may complain it’s a little too busy. And unlike many nav systems, the Audi’s will let you set a destination while the car is moving. We also like the touchpad next to the driver on the center console that allows drivers to spell out names and destinations, as well as tap to select (it also has hard buttons). This is an elegant solution to those who want to enter information quickly without reaching for the center stack and punching in data.

Audi’s MMI still has its quirks though; for example, the turning the knob to the right scrolls up instead of down, which is counter-intuitive to many. We also continue to be frustrated by the voice recognition system, which seldom gets it right on the first try, or even the second.

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