Text: Vince Pornelos / Photos: Vince Pornelos | posted December 01, 2011 19:03
Usually when a new car enters a class, it finds itself competing against so many models from various manufacturers. When it comes to this new Audi A7 it was a different story, as already we knew it had its sights trained on just one car: the Mercedes CLS.
The A7 is an entirely new line for the Ingolstadt manufacturer, but to the unfamiliar eye it's hard to tell it apart from its stablemates, especially from the front. The signature Audi grille is there, along with a new version of their LED lined headlamps. A quick glance at the side tells you all you need to know about what its intended target is, given that the tapered sportback/fastback roofline distinguishes it as a CLS competitor.
One thing we know for sure is that the new A7 is one good looking car... from any angle.
Honestly speaking, we didn't get to spend as much time inside the A7, as we got to try it out on the Clark International Speedway during the PGA Cars track day. However, a few minutes was all we needed to discern that Audi's designers have been a little more liberal with the interior than in the rest of their models. It's not as conservative as before, with plenty of new touches that didn't see in previous Audis and very high levels of luxury.
The driver's seat is the perfect place to enjoy the new A7, and that new steering wheel does feel great in your hands. There are a lot more buttons in here than I remember in my last stint in an Audi, but it's never overwhelming. Getting familiarized with the controls is easy, and like other Audi's with the MMI, it's also easy to use.
Taking it for a spin, this particular A7 accelerates very quickly, and with good reason: behind that gorgeous front end is a 3 liter, roots-type supercharged gas direct injection V6 that produces a very healthy 300 horsepower (metric). Audi quotes the A7 as being able to deliver an acceleration time of 5.6 seconds (0-100 km/h) and a top speed of 250 kilometers per hour. It's hard to doubt those figures, as on Clark Speedway's main straight, the A7 3.0 TFSI was reaching speeds of up to 180 km/h... and that was from a standing start.
Audis (except for the performance variants like the S, RS, and R8 models) haven't really been a first choice for taking on a circuit, but I have to say, this one seems to fit the bill. There are multiple modes to the suspension, and taking on a racetrack means you should pretty much leave it in Dynamic mode. In that mode, the A7 performs very well in the turns. Surprisingly well.
Turn in is crisp thanks to a great quattro all-wheel drive system, which by default, is set for a 40/60 front/rear torque split. If you feel the need for a little more oversteer, you can tweak it to send up to 85 percent of the torque to the rear. Braking is great and taking on one turn after another is relatively easy, at over 100 km/h a small rear spoiler pops up from the back to give the car a little more downforce... not to mention making it look even better.
On a quick cool down lap and in the standard suspension settings, the A7 tones down well, transforming its character from exciting sports fastback to a sedate, comfortable grand tourer.
In the end, our stint with the new A7 was over just as quickly as it began, but what we can be sure of is that Ingolstadt has come up with the most exciting Audi that doesn't have an R, S, or RS on its badge