What's New for 2012
The 2012 Audi A7 is an all-new model.
Audi sedans seem to come from the same cookie cutter. Be it the A4, A6 or A8, it can be difficult to tell them apart even for those with a keen eye. Yet when it comes to Audis with only two doors, the German company breaks the mold with timeless silhouettes and new design details that influence not only its own sedans but also those of other brands as well. The 2012 Audi A7 might have four doors, but when it comes to style, it has the spirit of an Audi coupe.
The A7 sports the typical Audi fascia, but it's lower and wider, evoking the sleek A5 coupe rather than the redesigned A6 sedan upon which it is based. The roof line is radically sloped, and in that sense it follows the trend set by other so-called "four-door coupes" such as the Mercedes-Benz CLS. But for the A7, Audi keeps the slope going almost to the rear bumper, creating a silhouette similar to that of the Porsche Panamera. The A7's styling is unusual for sure, but it quickly grew on us once we saw it in person.
Like the CLS, the A7 has two rear bucket seats that are rich in legroom but poor in headroom. You're taking a practicality hit with the A7, but unlike its rakish competition, there is a silver lining. That's because the sleek roof line incorporates a hatchback that provides access to a more versatile cargo area than you'll find in a typical sedan.
Otherwise the A7 benefits from the same well-built, visually appealing cabin and supercharged engine as the new A6. Audi's Multi Media Interface (MMI), which controls the car's myriad electronic gizmos, gets the same thoughtful improvements first seen in the A8. In other words, the A7 is in many ways just another new Audi sedan, but with the style and grace of a coupe.
Frankly the 2012 Audi A7 took us by surprise; we weren't anticipating liking it as much as we do. It's certainly expensive, demanding a premium over the A6 that's probably not entirely justified if you're looking for function rather than form. But the Mercedes CLS tells a similar story and still manages to be a lust-worthy car in its own right. So while the A7 might not be for everyone, it's certainly a best-of-both-worlds sort of car, delivering style and substance in almost equal amounts.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 Audi A7 is a four-door sedan (with a hatchback-style trunk) available in three trim levels: Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige.
Standard equipment includes 18-inch wheels, adjustable drive settings, automatic bi-xenon headlights, LED running lights, automatic wipers, heated windshield washers, heated and auto-dimming mirrors, a sunroof, cruise control, three-zone automatic climate control, heated eight-way power seats with four-way lumbar adjustment, driver memory functions, leather upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, the Audi MMI system, Bluetooth, and a 14-speaker Bose sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and an iPod audio interface.
Stepping up to the Premium Plus adds 19-inch wheels, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, a navigation system, an enhanced version of MMI, voice controls, a six-CD changer and HD radio. The Prestige gets adaptive headlights with washers, S line exterior trim, keyless ignition/entry, four-zone automatic climate control, ventilated front seats, a power-adjustable steering wheel and an upgraded Bose surround-sound audio system.
The Cold Weather package available on all trims includes heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel. The Audi Side Assist package includes a blind-spot warning system and a rear-end collision mitigation system. The Sport package adds special 19-inch wheels, summer tires, a sport-tuned suspension and a sport steering wheel with shift paddles. This package can be upgraded with 20-inch wheels on the Premium Plus and Prestige.
These trims can also be equipped with the Driver Assistance package, which includes adaptive cruise control, a front collision warning system and the Side Assist package. The Prestige can be optioned with the Innovation package, which is essentially the Driver Assistance pack with an infrared night vision display and a head-up display. Stand-alone options on the Prestige include 20-inch wheels, LED headlights and a 15-speaker Bang & Olufsen surround-sound audio system.
Powertrains and Performance
Every 2012 Audi A7 comes standard with all-wheel drive, an eight-speed automatic transmission and a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that produces 310 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque.
In Edmunds performance testing, the A7 accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds -- very quick for a large all-wheel-drive sedan. Estimated fuel economy is quite good as well, with 18 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined.
The 2012 Audi A7 comes standard with antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front knee airbags, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. Optional features include rear side airbags, a blind-spot warning system, front and rear collision warning/mitigation systems and an infrared night-vision display.
In Edmunds brake testing, an A7 Prestige with the 20-inch wheels and summer tires came to a stop from 60 mph in 106 feet. That's sports car territory, but it would be longer with the regular tires and smaller wheels.
Interior Design and Special Features
Audi is known for producing some of the finest car interiors in the world, consistently setting benchmarks for design and quality. The new A7 carries that torch and also improves upon the way the driver interacts with the car's myriad electronics devices. Audi's newest MMI benefits from enhanced functionality of the steering wheel controls and gauge-mounted display, while the MMI Touch panel amidst the rest of the (admittedly numerous) other MMI buttons is a nifty advancement.
Due to the A7's aggressively raked roof line, backseat headroom is tight for average-to-tall folks. Legroom is abundant, however, and there's something to be said for the comfort of the twin rear bucket seats. In terms of luggage and cargo capacity, the A7's hatchback design permits easier loading of larger items that just won't fit in the trunk of a conventional sedan. Official capacity is 24.5 cubic feet, and lowering the rear seatbacks expands upon this further.
The new 2012 Audi A7 is another showcase for Audi's excellent supercharged 3.0-liter engine. Low-end power is abundant and made readily available thanks to the responsive throttle and quick-acting eight-speed automatic transmission. This engine also sounds fantastic -- smooth with just a hint of snarl -- and returns respectable fuel economy as well.
Every A7 comes with Audi's Drive Select, which alters throttle response, shift characteristics and steering effort based on four different modes: Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual. Steering communication is rather numb in Comfort mode and the effort is a little too light for us at cruising speed. The engine and transmission might also seem a little relaxed in Comfort mode. Dynamic mode better suited our preferences for this coupe-style car but it made the car's personality too intense, which has been an issue with the previous calibration of Drive Select in other Audi models.
Unlike the A8 sedan, the A7's suspension response is not altered by Drive Select. In our testing, we found the A7's ride to be firm and a bit too lively with the available 20-inch tires, which offer minimal compliance from their narrow sidewalls. Staying with the 18-inch tires might be a good idea if a comfortable ride quality is a priority for you.