The Audi A7, a luxurious four-door hatch, flaunts a shapely, sloped roofline. Based on the midsize A6 sedan, the A7 echoes a trend of luxury sedans with coupe profiles established by BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Introduced as a 2010 model, Audi’s fashionable four-door A7 and S7 earned a facelift for the 2015 season.
For the 2018 model year, the 3.0-liter supercharged V6 engine gains 7 horsepower to 333 hp. A new A7 Competition model boasts some distinct styling touches in black and red, plus a firmer suspension and slight boost in horsepower to 340. For 2018, wheels have been restyled for S7 and RS 7 models, and the RS 7 gets a new exhaust setup.
As before, A7 comes standard with quattro all-wheel drive and an 8-speed automatic transmission, in Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels. Audi S7 continues, along with the near-supercar RS 7.
The Audi A7 comes with a supercharged V6 developing 340 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque.
The RS 7 elevates V8 output to 560 horsepower and 518 pound-feet. Topping the scale is the RS 7 Performance edition, with its V8 unleashing a startling 605 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. In standard tune, the RS 7 achieves 0-60 mph acceleration in just 3.7 seconds.
In addition to its dapper profile, the A7 provides an appealing blend of ride and handling. Audi has long been known for adoption of technology. Each trim level is well-equipped, and the hatchback configuration promises valuable utility. Not many cars match the A7 in ability to transport four passengers in congenial comfort, though back-seat space is limited by the roof shape.
A broad range of safety technology is available, much of it optional. Standard equipment includes a rearview camera, front/rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, and Bluetooth connectivity. An optional Driver Assistance Plus package includes corner-view cameras, lane keep assist, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with stop/go, and automatic high-beam headlights. Another option package includes Night Vision assistance that can detect animals and humans.
A7 Competition includes sports suspension, specially tuned rear differential, matte-finish Titanium 20-inch wheels, red brake calipers, four-passenger seating, and distinctive styling touches.
S7 Premium Plus ($81,200) has a 450-horsepower twin-turbo V8, plus adaptive air suspension, Valcona leather seats, four-seat configuration, and 14-speaker Bose surround-sound audio. S7 Prestige ($83,150) is upgraded similarly to A7 Prestige.
RS 7 ($113,900) contains the 560-horsepower V8, an adaptive air suspension, sport differential, honeycomb-stitched Valcona leather, and navigation with voice control. RS 7 Performance ($130,700) raises V8 output to 605 horsepower.
Viewed up front, differences between the A7 and its more conventional A6 companion are modest but noticeable. Naturally, the foremost divergence between the two body styles centers on the roofline. Not only is the roof lower than usual, it tapers into a graceful fastback profile, leading to a sharp back end. A small spoiler is set to rise at higher speeds, ready to enhance downforce.
Front occupants get comfortable seats as well as an upscale aura. Even the base-model A7 is well-equipped and feels elegant, helped by abundant leather and attractive wood trim.
Because of the A7/S7 roofline, back-seat riders can expect to feel a bit constricted. Headroom is greater in the A6 sedan than in the shapely A7 hatchback. Adults fit easily into the outboard rear seats, but only if they’re not especially tall. Scallops cut into the rear of the front seatbacks help with leg space, but getting in and out of the back seat may be a challenging task.
Despite the sloping roof, larger items fit readily into the cargo area. Folding down the rear seats eases loading of longer items.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all models. So is an inductive, wireless charging pad. Audi’s MMI infotainment system is easy enough to use and reasonably intuitive, employing a control knob and touchpad rather than a touchscreen. The high-resolution LCD screen rises from the center. Audi’s navigation system ranks among the best.
All-wheel-drive traction helps, too, resulting in an exquisitely poised and smooth road machine. A touch of sportiness rounds out the A7 picture, but there’s nothing harsh about the experience. Demanding enthusiasts might yearn for more feedback from the light steering setup, but most A7/S7 drivers should be wholly satisfied.
Emitting mellow sounds, the smooth-running V6 engine mates well with Audi’s quick-shifting 8-speed automatic. Exhibiting a neutral grip on the pavement, the hatchback shows only a hint of the nose-heavy nature of some past Audi models. Even on rough surfaces, the suspension reveals impressive compliance.
For a powerful, strong-performance car, the A7 is thriftier than expected. The V6 model is EPA-rated at 20/29 mpg City/Highway, or 23 mpg Combined, using premium gasoline. The 8-speed transmission lets the engine run at low, thriftier speeds much of the time. With its V8 engine, the 2017 S7 was EPA-rated at 17/27 mpg City/Highway, or 21 mpg Combined. The RS 7 managed only 15/25/18 mpg.
An A7 still exudes eye-grabbing beauty, but that’s only the beginning. The stylish premium hatchback does just about everything right, excelling even in utility. In fact, based upon its balance of handling and ride comfort, it’s difficult to envision a more comprehensive midsize luxury car.
Driving impressions by Andrew Ganz, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.