• 2012 Audi A7 — new, willing, capable

    June 8th, 2011 | Section: Autos

    Just now arriving at dealerships, the 2012 Audi A7 3.0 TFSI quattro Auto Tiptronic Sedan—as it’s officially called—is based on the upcoming next-generation A6 sedan. While the two models share engines, transmissions and most other components, the A7 distinguishes itself with sleeker exterior styling, a four-passenger interior and a large hatchback instead of a trunk.

    Up front, Audi’s signature broad and deep trapezoidal grille is flanked by broad lower air intakes and stylish projector style Xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lights that reach upward into the front fenders. The rear-end treatment is neither too tall nor too chunky, and is adorned with neatly configured taillights and dual exhausts that are set in a low and assertive-looking fascia. An integrated rear spoiler automatically extends at 80 mph and retracts once the car gets back to 50 mph or less.

    The car’s low-slung roof neither obstructs rearward visibility from inside the cabin, nor does it cause the driver or front passenger to bump or unduly scrape their heads while climbing into the cabin. The hatchback offers a generous cargo hold, and the space easily expands via 60/40-split folding rear seats.

    The 2012 Audi A7 treats four passengers to a roomy and quiet leather-clad cabin that’s neatly trimmed in aluminum-look and wood trim, with quality materials used throughout. Instrument-panel gauges are large and legible, with an elegantly styled dashboard that wraps around the driver and front passenger. The steering wheel incorporates controls for select functions without becoming too cluttered in the bargain.

    On the road the 2012 Audi A7 is a capable performer. Its supercharged and direct fuel-injected 3.0-liter V6 engine generates 310 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque that ensures strong launches and plenty of passing power. The A7 can make the leap to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds — impressive for a relatively small engine in such a large sedan. A smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission includes Tiptronic manual-shift capability via either the gear selector or optional steering wheel-mounted paddles.

    The automaker’s quattro all-wheel-drive (AWD) system comes standard. It also splits the engine power between the axles on a 40/60 basis under most circumstances for a sportier rear-drive feel, automatically distributing power fore or aft when wheel slippage is detected. Also, an intelligent brake management system lightly applies the brakes to the inside rear wheel while cornering.

    Audi’s Drive Select Control system is standard and allows the driver to tailor steering, engine and transmission response according to selectable modes for a more or less aggressive feel. Switching from “Comfort” to “Dynamic” mode makes the car suddenly feel far quicker, with an eager throttle quality.

    The 2012 Audi A7 comes generously equipped with amenities. Primary among them is the new subscription-based Audi Connect system that works with the available voice-controlled navigation array to provide real-time traffic, weather and news reports, gas prices and more.

    The navigation system further affords the ability to input destinations using fingertip handwriting recognition via a laptop computer-like touchpad on the center console. It works as advertised, though we found it only nominally less complicated than the alternative method of dialing in a street name one letter at a time with the MMI dial.

    The 2012 Audi A7 should appeal to a broad spectrum of luxury car buyers on the basis of its overall pleasing performance, tastefully attractive styling and broad array of cutting-edge amenities.

    The 2012 Audi A7’s MSRP is $59,250.

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