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2012 Audi A7 Supercharged Review: A Fantastic Car - VIDEO ENHANCED

2012 AUDI A7 SUPERCHARGED (select to view enlarged photo)

A Fantastic Car for the Well Heeled
By Steve Purdy
Detroit Bureau

This is a fantastic car. The new Audi A7 Supercharged is one of those cars I really hate to give up at the end of the week, and one I wish I had the wherewithal to own. What a sophisticated and beautiful piece of machinery.

2012 AUDI A7 SUPERCHARGED (select to view enlarged photo)

First, let’s talk about the appearance of this sleek 4-passenger large hatchback. It’s an head-turner, to be sure. On our first drive to a little town an hour north to check out some Amish furniture, my pretty blonde commented that everyone was looking at this car. All week people were staring and offering a thumbs-up. That dramatic gaping black grill jumps out at first blush then we notice the low roofline that swoops all the way to the tail. We once called that a “fast-back” design. I guess we still could. Most dramatically the LED daytime running lights in the shape of a slash below the headlights glow with aplomb whenever the car is running.

Watch TACH's exclusive Audi A7 video promo

Modestly bulging wheel wells are filled with huge tires and sporty ten-spoke wheels – in this case the optional 20-inchers shod with extra-wide, low-profile summer performance tires. The low, wide, cat-like stance implies speed and competence on the road. From a straight on view front or rear we are struck by a look that nearly screams of European sophistication.

2012 AUDI A7 SUPERCHARGED (select to view enlarged photo)

Inside, we find extreme luxury and technology. It is much less classically simple than comparable BMW and Mercedes designs, the Audi interior exudes more aesthetic diversity with a light, airy feel. Rich wood trim across the dash and on the console has a natural, unvarnished look, not the hard, shiny surfaced wood grain finish that makes us wonder if it’s real wood. The navigation and mulit-function screen immerges horizontally out of the dash then tilts to vertical. Two little Bang and Olefsun speakers slowly rise out of each corner of the dash.

2012 AUDI A7 SUPERCHARGED(select to view enlarged photo)

Everywhere we look we find controls, information or sensors. Dozens of buttons, knobs, rollers, screens and readouts control, read or report hundreds of functions and pieces of information. Amazingly, most of the functions were easy to figure out and manage. I was pleasantly surprised to find it much more intuitive and logical than any other vehicle of such complexity. Bravo Audi. As regular readers probably know, I’m not a lover of technology for its own sake, and I’m easily overwhelmed, if not annoyed, by too much of it. But this Audi A7 made everything easy enough to manage.

We used the adaptive cruise control extensively on our Chicago trip. My first experience with that technology was an Audi A8 and I was not fond of it. But, either I’ve acclimated or the systems or they have been improved. In any event, I found it very useful. We have four distance settings and the system does a great job of adjusting to all traffic conditions. We can use it in heavy traffic without foot-pedal input as it will do all our braking and accelerating. Amazing.

2012 AUDI A7 SUPERCHARGED (select to view enlarged photo)

Listed as a “large” car by government standards the A7 is essentially a 4-passenger luxury sedan with hatchback. We found it to be spacious front and rear. We also did some serious hauling using the entire 24.5 feet of cargo area plus substantial added space converted by lowering the rear seat backs.

The power plant in the Audi A7 is a marvel of power and efficiency. The 90-degree TFSI (direct injection) V6, displacing just 3 liters, features variable valve timing and all the other high-tech engine management systems as well as a belt-driven supercharger. It generates 310 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. Zero to 60 mph time is listed at 5.4 seconds with an electronically limited top speed of 130 mph. While this is not as “high-performance” a sport sedan as a BMW M5, Mercedes-Benz E-Class AMG or Cadillac CTS-V it will satisfy all but the most power hungry buyers.

2012 AUDI A7 SUPERCHARGED (select to view enlarged photo)

Behind this smooth and powerful engine is a new 8-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic® function that allows manual gear selection. The transmission also electronically integrates with the engine and steering to adjust shift points, steering stiffness and throttle response to fit within any of four modes. Audi’s tried-and-true quattro® full-time all-wheel drive system, introduced in 1980 and continuously improved since, allows instantaneous torque split of up to 70% to the front and 85% to the rear without the need for wheel sensors. Sixth gear is 1:1 and the top two gears are overdrives.

My only complaint here is that you must mash the brake to go from neutral to drive. I like to bump into neutral at a stoplight so I don’t have to keep the brake engaged, particularly on cars with too much idle thrust. Most cars allow you to just bump back into drive from the neutral position. But all Audis require a foot on the brake to do that. I suppose that is a result of the unintended acceleration fiasco that decimated Audi in the US market back in the 70s. It would be nice if they could just get over it.

Ride and handling are what we would expect from a German luxury sedan, that is, firm, impeccably controlled and well balanced. Front suspension is a trapezoidal-link arrangement and the rear is a 5-link setup with an anti-roll bar. All four corners are damped by twin-tube gas-filled shocks. While I did not push it hard or put it on a race course, I have no doubt it would handle either very well. Our test car has the sportiest suspension available on the A7 and I did not find it the least bit harsh or jumpy.

All this drivetrain technology combines to accomplish truly amazing fuel mileage for this size of car. The EPA rates the 4,200-pound A7 quattro at 18 mpg in the city and 28 on the highway. On our 250-mile (each way) drive to Chicago I easily managed just over 30 mpg at nearly 80 mph with the AC on full blast. It takes premium fuel, of course, with 91-octaine required and 93 recommended. The 19.8-gallon fuel tank gives us a good 400-mile cruising range.

Aluminum is used both in the substructure and the body of the new A7, though not in as high a ratio as the larger A8. The hood, top, fenders and hatch are aluminum as is the engine block and lots of other parts.

The US version of the Audi A7 (all are quattros) shows a base price of $59,250. Our test car has nearly $20,000 worth of options bringing the bottom line to just over $80,000. The $6,330 Prestige Package includes: special interior upgrades, the navigation and MMI control system, Audi Connect with 6 months subscription, parking sensors, 4-zone automatic climate control, HD radio, adaptive headlights, ambient lighting and 7-color driver information system. The premium Bang and Olufsen sound system costs $5,900. The $5,800 Innovation Package includes: Audi pre sense plus, adaptive cruise control, side assist, LED headlights, head up display, night vision assist and power folding outside mirrors. Finally the $1,500 Sport Package includes 20-inch wheels and tires, sport suspension, 3-spoke multifunction steering wheel and paddle shifters.

Audi’s new car warranty covers the entire car, including drivetrain for 4 years or 50,000 miles and the first full service at about 5,000 miles is free. Corrosion perforation is warranted for 12 years.

Walter de’Silva, Audi’s design chief, oversaw the design of the new A7. He was in Detroit recently to receive the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the EyesOn Design organization. This is an award voted on by previous winners who are, as you may infer, some of the finest designers in the world. Upon close and critical examination of the A7 you’ll see how he earned that award.

I repeat: this is a fantastic car.

© Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights<.p>