All Things to a Few People
Your first glance might lead you to believe the 2012 Audi A7 3.0 TFSI Quattro is little more than an answer to the Mercedes-Benz CLS. Except that Audi has taken "fashionably late" to a new level as the CLS is already into its second generation.
But the 2012 Audi A7 adds a new twist to the much-coveted four-door-as-coupe equation. It's actually a five-door hatchback, a relative rarity in the $60,000-plus market where the A7 is set to reside. While hatchbacks are welcomed by practical Europeans, they're usually supreme no-no's here in the U.S.
To complicate matters further, despite the usefulness that comes with the A7's spacious hatchback and folding rear seats, this Audi is only a four-seater.
But let's forget about defining the A7 for a moment. We'd rather tell you how it performed at the test track and on real roads.
Sizing It Up
As its name suggests, the A7 slots in between the A6 and A8. It rides on a 114.7-inch wheelbase which is six inches less than the BMW 535i Gran Turismo. Its overall length of 195.6 inches eclipses the A6 by 2.1 inches, is well shy of the 202.2-inch flagship A8 and is only 1.2 inches shorter than the 535i Gran Turismo. Still, the sleek A7 is about 1.5 inches lower than its A6 and A8 counterparts.
Although the A7 3.0 TFSI Quattro starts at $60,125 (including destination), our Prestige package tester (which adds S-line trim, Audi Navigation Plus with MMI Touch, four-zone climate control, front seat cooling and a Bose audio system, for $6,330) tallied up a final MSRP of $68,630.
T Is For Supercharger
There's only one drivetrain for U.S. A7s. Luckily, it's a good one: The 3.0 TFSI V6 ("T" no longer stands only for turbo in Audi-speak, as this one's supercharged). This direct-injected engine is quickly becoming a favorite, already seen in various power levels in both the A6 and S4. In A7 form it puts out 310 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. For comparison, the turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six in BMW's 535i Gran Turismo produces 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. All U.S. A7s come with an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission and Quattro all-wheel drive.
Without doubt, the 3.0 TFSI is a fantastically flexible piece. The nearly silent supercharger adds urgency yet the smooth flow of power carries all the way to its 6,500-rpm redline. The instant power plus all-wheel-drive grip made for an impressive romp to 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds (5.1 seconds with 1 foot of rollout like at a drag strip). The quarter-mile disappeared in 13.6 seconds at 101.7 mph. Not too shabby for a 4,207-pound car with only 310 hp.