May 27, 2014

Diesel is delightful in luxury A7

The new Audi A7, powered by a turbodiesel engine, gets to 60 miles an hour in just 5.5 seconds and manages 38 mpg on the highway. Still, it’s both attractive and luxurious. Its huge hatchback opens up station-wagon-type cargo space when the seats are folded.

The Audi A7 quattro, from its sloping-roof, low-tail silhouette to the huge hatchback that opens up station-wagon-type cargo space when the seats are folded, is quite unlike any other car in the luxury segment. The fact that it is offered with a 3.0-liter turbodiesel that is rated at 38 miles per gallon on the highway also differentiates it from most of its competitors.

The A7 sits just below the A8 in Audi’s lineup, and there are four variants. The standard model has a 310-horsepower V-6, and the sporty S7 has a 420-horsepower V-8. All have Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system that divides power from front to back and side to side.

The turbodiesel develops 240 horsepower, but most important, 428 pound-feet of torque, all of which is available at less than 2,000 rpm. Torque is the motive force you feel the moment you mash the throttle and it powers the A7 to 60 miles per hour in 5.5 seconds, just one-tenth slower than the standard A7. There is no diesel clatter or sooty exhaust, and the fact that it sips fuel is a bonus. The eight-speed automatic can be shifted manually.

The RS 7 will be available later in the year with a 560-horsepower engine that yanks it to 60 in 3.6 seconds.

Audi calls the A7 a five-door coupe rather than a sedan, and that seems a fitting moniker. The fastback roof ends in a tail that is lower than most hatchbacks, giving it a distinct profile. A tiny tail spoiler rises at 80 mph for added stability.

Audi interiors are beautifully crafted and executed. The test car’s matte wood trim was an elegant accent to the dark leather and bright trim. A center-mounted 7-inch LCD screen rotates out of the instrument panel when the car starts. Another screen, situated between the speedometer and tachometer, delivers a variety of information that the driver can select with a button on the steering wheel.

A mouselike knob on the console controls audio, navigation and vehicle settings. It is one of the easier systems to use. It has dedicated buttons for commonly-used controls and a unique touchpad that interprets handwritten input. You can write numbers with your finger or scroll over maps with one finger.

The test car was equipped with the $5,900 Bang & Olufsen audio system whose tweeters rise out of the corners of the instrument panel. The sound quality was good but not worth the price.

In my view, blind-spot monitoring, lane assist and adaptive cruise control are options that should be standard for a car with a base price of $66,900.

The 12-way adjustable front seats were comfortable, but I would prefer more lateral support. Rear-seat legroom is more than adequate for adults.

The test car’s optional 20-inch wheels and summer tires add some cornering performance but are vulnerable to real-world potholes and would have to be replaced with winter tires in northern climates.


The base price of the A7 TDI Quattro is $66,900. Options on the test car included the Bang & Olufsen sound system, four-zone climate control, ventilated front seat adaptive cruise control, lane assist, corner-view camera, sport suspension and 20-inch wheels with summer tires. The sticker price was $81,395.


Four years or 50,000 miles

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2014 Audi A7 Quattro TDI

Engine: 3.0-liter, 240-horsepower turbodiesel V-6 engine

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive

Wheelbase: 114.7 inches

Curb weight: 4,266 pounds

Base price: $66,900

As driven: $81,395

MPG rating: 24 in the city, 38 on the highway

At A Glance

Point: The A7 is sleek and stylish. Part station wagon and part luxury sedan, it is both practical and plush. The turbodiesel is appealing for its quick throttle response, strong acceleration and outstanding fuel mileage.

Counterpoint: Like many of its German competitors, the A7’s base price balloons dramatically when popular safety and convenience options are added.

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