2014 Audi A7
The Audi A7 is an all-wheel-drive luxury sedan with the roofline of a coupe and a practical rear hatch. First introduced for 2012, the Audi A7 is based on the same platform as the Audi A6 and has nearly the same footprint, with the added roominess of a sport wagon.
For 2014, two new variants joined the lineup. At the head of the class is the uber-performance 2014 Audi RS 7, a step above the S7 which debuted for 2013. Power comes from a re-tuned version of the S7s twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 engine, churning out a whopping 560 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque (which kicks in as low as 1700 rpm), mated to an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. Its enough for the RS 7 to skyrocket from 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds according to Audi, making it equally as quick as the V10-powered Audi A8 supercar with the manual transmission. At lower speeds, cylinder deactivation technology allows the RS 7 to run a four-cylinder, improving fuel economy, although, not surprisingly, its the least fuel-efficient of the bunch, earning an EPA estimated 16/27 mpg City/Highway.
On the practical end of the spectrum is the 2014 Audi A7 TDI, which uses a diesel-powered, turbocharged 3.0-liter V6. Although it makes a modest 240 hp, it has plenty of low-end oomph thanks to its 428 lb.-ft. of torque. The A7 TDI achieves an EPA-estimated 24/38 mpg City/Highway.
Those who were dismayed by the A7s four-seat capacity may be glad to know that on 3.0 and TDI variants, a three-passenger bench seat now comes standard, as opposed to two rear buckets. The S7 and the RS 7, however, are still four-seaters. A few new standard features and package changes also make their way onto the A7 for 2014, and notably, the base Premium trim level on 3.0 models has been dropped.
Core Audi A7 models are powered by a supercharged 3.0-liter V6, good for 310 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. The only transmission offered is an 8-speed automatic. EPA fuel economy ratings for the 2014 Audi A7 are a respectable 18/28 mpg City/Highway.
The high-performance S7 is powered the same engine found in the Audi S6, a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 that cranks out 420 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. Its paired with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. Audi claims the S7 has a 0-60 mph time of just 4.5 seconds. Also like the new RS 7, the S7 uses cylinder-deactivation technology to improve fuel economy, but manages to barely best the RS 7 with an EPA-estimated 17/27 mpg City/Highway.
As with all Audis, the interior of the A7 is a standout. The dashboard wraps around the driver and into the front doors, the beautiful instrument panel perfectly framed by the three-spoke sport steering wheel. Diamond-quilted leather in the S7 is gorgeous. Rear seats have adequate legroom, and the 60/40 rear seatback flips down to a flat floor.
Although Audis MMI user interface may have its quirks, it continues to get better. We especially like the Google Earth view on the navigation screen, and the touchpad near the driver on the center console that allows the user to spell out letters with a finger, instead of punching them in.
In the drivetrain department, the V6 is fast and silky, and the 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission is seamless. We found the A7 ride was smooth and comfortable at all times, even with 20-inch wheels and a sport suspension.
The 2014 Audi A7 nestles into an ever-growing space emerging space between sporty and spacious. While the A7 silhouette remains unique, other luxury car makers offer hatch-like practicality in a coupe-like package. As such, other vehicles to consider include the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe, Jaguar XF and Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class.