What's New for 2013
After its debut last year, the Audi A7 returns with only minor feature changes for 2013.
If it seems as though every German luxury carmaker has decided to build a sedan with a coupe-style roof, it's because, well, they have. The basic idea here is to combine the practicality of a sedan with the sleek styling of a coupe. It works, though obviously a few compromises come along for the ride.
Audi's contribution to this fledgling segment is the 2013 Audi A7. It's built upon the A6 sedan (a traditional sedan), and that's certainly a good thing, as we rate it as one of our top picks. The big difference is the A7's sloping roof line -- unique even in this high-style segment. It makes the A7 look a bit like a hatchback, as the roof line continues to taper all the way to the tail, making the hindquarters look a bit weak from a design point of view. For most people, however, this distinctive look soon wins them over.
As with other coupe-styled four-doors, the 2013 Audi A7's roof line comes with both benefits and drawbacks. On the plus side, the big hatchback-style opening provides a large and versatile cargo area. Unfortunately, that sloping glass also cuts into rear-seat headroom. But if you're not in the business of transporting several tall adults at the same time, you'll likely overlook this fault and revel in the A7's potent performance, classy interior and the abundance of high-tech features that have become a hallmark of the Audi brand.
Even though this body style is relatively new, the competition is quite strong. Mercedes-Benz practically invented this genre with the luxury-oriented CLS-Class, and in the ensuing seven years, it has seen improvements that keep it on top of its game. BMW has also just jumped into the game with the sportier 2013 6 Series Gran Coupe, while the 2013 Porsche Panamera, in its many iterations, turns up the performance dial even further.
The 2013 Audi A7, on the other hand, is praiseworthy for its balanced blend of luxury and performance, giving the owner a healthy dose of each. It also starts out as the least expensive car in the bunch. If you find yourself in the coupe-styled luxury sedan market and you're trying to decide among any of these cars, consider yourself lucky, as you really can't go wrong.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 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, a power liftgate, automatic wipers, heated windshield washers, heated mirrors, a sunroof, cruise control, tri-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated eight-way power seats with four-way lumbar adjustment, driver memory functions, leather upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, the Audi MMI electronics interface system, Bluetooth and a 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, auto-dimming outside mirrors, a navigation system, an enhanced version of MMI, voice controls, keyless ignition/entry, a color driver information display and HD radio. The Prestige gets adaptive headlights, S line exterior trim, four-zone automatic climate control, ventilated front seats, a power-adjustable steering wheel and an upgraded 14-speaker 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, front and rear corner-view cameras 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
All 2013 Audi A7 models are powered by a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that produces 310 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic is the only transmission offered and sends power to all four wheels. The resulting EPA-estimated rating comes in at an admirable 18 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined.
In Edmunds performance testing, the A7 accelerated from a standstill to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, which is quicker than average for this class of car with a six-cylinder engine.
Standard safety features for the 2013 Audi A7 include 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 impressive even for summer tires; expect a longer distance for 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 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 amid 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 versus a traditional three-across bench seat. 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 2013 Audi A7 is another showcase for Audi's excellent supercharged 3.0-liter engine. Low-end power is abundant and 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 steering 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, although it made the car's personality too intense -- an issue we've had with the previous calibration of Drive Select in other Audi models.
Unlike the A8 sedan, the Audi 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.