2012 Audi A7: Top of the Class
Photos by Alex Martinez and Richard Melick
The brand new 2012 Audi A7 has been one of the most anticipated vehicles to hit the showroom floors from the German manufacturer in recent years, and to be honest it’s not hard to see why. With a sleek, sports car look, Audi has taken the challenge to heart from its rivals to produce a competing 4-door coupe-inspired sedan. And boy, did they produce something amazing.
Let’s be honest. This is not a new shape for a luxury car, having been seen around town in the form of a Mercedes CLS, and even lower end with the Volkswagen CC. But there is something about the stance and profile of this car that makes it feel unique. It is classy like the CLS, but with a big hint of aggressive nature that the Mercedes does not share. It is a coupe with an extra door, looking almost like an A5 with a longer torso. And that isn’t so bad in my opinion.
It is something new for Audi, which to be honest, tends to make the A4, A6 and A8 look a little too much like siblings. This new A7 is in the same class as the other cars, but with a kick in the mouth. It’s like adding cayenne pepper to your coffee instead of sugar in the morning, minus the pain of course. And different is good in this case. It is nice to see the four rings on a car that is immediately recognizable from the rest of the pack.
The hatch is something to get used to. Unlike the 5 Series GT, this car feels useful. It’s not an awkward motion to open the gate and put gear in the boot like the BMW, which feels like an afterthought in design. This flows nicely from roof line to tailgate, and despite the change of angle of the rear windscreen, still provides ample views back while driving.
The interior is in typical Audi fashion, with ample gadgets and technology at the driver’s fingertips but not in an overbearing manner. The first thing I actually noticed was that I could see the full gauge cluster in front of me, right through the steering wheel even with my big meat paws gripping it at 9 and 3. But the steering wheel wasn’t any bigger than that of other cars, just placed in a manner to allow such visibility. And the heads up display on the windscreen meant I rarely actually had to use this feature, even with as useful as it was.
With a pop-up navigation screen and pop-up speakers to match, this car was just about as amazing as it could get when it came to the full package. Everything ran smoothly from top to our bottoms, which were kept nice and cool in the A/C seats.
Let’s talk power now. This car has the 3.0T Supercharged V-6, producing 310 HP and 325 ft/lbs of torque, all mated to an 8-speed tiptronic/paddle-shift transmission. And it was amazing. Getting on the highway was an absolute blast. It was mind-boggling how fast the gears would change, and when in Dynamic mode, it was even better. It handled the curves amazingly well for a large car, but wasn’t rough even along the well maintained roads of Colfax. It was a dream to drive.
But, as with all good things there were some nagging points. First off, the spoiler in the rear ruins the profile of the car when up. Minor thing in that, but it stood out like a sore thumb, and I couldn’t get past it. The Bluetooth phone connection was amazing and could dial based of voice commands, but was incredibly slow going from command to confirm to confirm to notify to dial. Yes, I want to call that person, and yes, I know it’s dialing. And the noise inside, probably from the 20in wheels and all-season tires, was actually a bit louder than I expected. Not annoying, but enough to be a reminder. Finally, the visibility between the rear view mirror and dash took a bit to get used to when driving tight corners. I had to duck just a bit to see right into the corner and it took a bit getting used to.
But that isn’t the biggest nagging part for me. It is the price. I had the opportunity to drive the A7 when it first arrived at dealerships, which was only the base model priced around $60,000. It felt as if it was almost the complete car that you wanted it to be, but was lacking that essential piece to really put it to the top. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was until this test drive, when we took out the premium packaged version, priced at just a hair under $80,000. This packaged car was perfectly appointed in my opinion, and it felt it that way from start to finish. But it wasn’t until the drive home that I realized why it felt different.
That brings to question if it is even worth buying at $80,000. Well, yes it is, and I would buy one in a heartbeat if I could afford it. I wouldn’t hesitate in that. I would pass all the other packages and head straight for the top of the top because it felt so complete. And this bugs me because with so many other models in the Audi lineup, past and present, there are great things about every model. Take for example the well-known B5 A4 model. While the 2.8L was sold as the more premium package, it was the 1.8T that took off in sales, leading to more and more features being provided in the model. This includes the Sport line in 2000/2001, which combined the handling characteristics of an S4 into the 4-cylinder model. Customers had options to make their cars unique to them with such a range of additional extras. And the A7 is really lacking that. The base model is great, but it’s nothing I would bend over backward to own as it wouldn’t have those little things that made it special.
What does this all mean? Well, if you’re thinking of going with the basic package, take the premium out for a test drive. It is night and day difference between the two, and it will show right away. This is not saying that the base model is not a great car, as it is. I just feel that if you’re going to spend big money on a car, you might as well ensure you aren’t thinking “I wish I had” one year down the road.
Special thanks to Don Wagner at Prestige Imports for access to the 2012 Audi A7. (720) 544-0307.