2012 Audi A7 Premium Plus Road Test Review

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Bold Audi grille and massive 20-inch alloys make for a substantive presence. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Five-door profile is oh-so '70s cool! (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Raked C-pillar and edgy Kamm-like tail give the A7 a sporty elegance. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Wow! This thing is a hatchback! And it's seriously practical too. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Quality is second to none. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Comfortable, supportive, gorgeous seats. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Rear buckets are nice, but the centre console isn't up to snuff. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Published on February 11, 2012

Hatchbacks are cool again. Or maybe I should call a hatchback in this top-tier premium category a liftback so as to not offend any well-to-do execs that already bought into the four-door coupe concept. Cars like the Aston Martin Rapide and Porsche Panamera are right at the top of this class, but that doesn't make the all-new 2012 Audi A7 any less desirable.

I find it gorgeous. Its front end isn't all that different from other Audis, a good thing, but the rear design, with its sweptback C pillars and chiseled backside sporting angular taillights is oh-so '70s! And I'm referring to the good aspects of '70s design, not the white flared Britannia jeans and multi-colour polyester shirts. Then again, I actually liked those styles back in the days when I parted my long hair in the middle and wore puka shells around my neck (I had a black coral one with a shark's tooth too, and I'd really rather not talk about the gold chain and medallion), just like I loved so many of the cars of the era. The first car I bought with my own money was an Audi 100, and while mine was a four-door sedan I would've loved to have had the sportier hatchback version. It was almost non-existent on these shores, but if strong early sales are anything to go by I'm pretty sure the A7 won't suffer the same fate.

Unlike some of its rivals that play in the six-figure arena, Audi has priced its A7 within reach of an S4 or S5 buyer, and being that it carries the same 3.0-litre supercharged V6, albeit tuned to 310-horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque, it should be very appealing at $70,595 including shipping. The A7 gets a state-of-the-art 8-speed automatic transmission, including paddle-shifters of course, with power going down to all four wheels via Audi's legendary quattro all-wheel drive. Even fuel economy isn't too bad for this performance-oriented 5-door, optimistically estimated at 11.4 L/100km city and 7.4 highway. And yes, pricier premium is required. I experienced between 10 and 11 L/100km during my weeklong test, which I think is pretty good for the performance provided, the hilly terrain in Greater Vancouver where I drove it, and the normally thirsty V8-powered premium segment it resides in. I didn't exactly drive it like a grandma either.

The A7 begs to be driven quickly. It comes standard with a sweet looking set of 19-inch 5-arm Y-design rims on 255/40R19 all-seasons, but Audi kindly shod mine in 265/35R20 performance rubber framing a set of gorgeous 20-inch alloys in a 10-parallel-spoke design, at only $1,000 extra. These combined with the A7's lightweight aluminum body and fully competent 5-link front and trapezoidal-link rear suspension setup, quick-reacting electromechanical speed-dependent rack and pinion steering system that needs only 2.7 turns lock-to-lock, and Ingolstadt-tuned excellence, for a canyon carving dynamo that belies its 1,910-kilo (4,210-lb) mass.

All that mass comes from a generously sized vehicle with a full complement of luxury accouterments. You won't get lost in the A7, but you'll have no problem fitting into its accommodating front seating area. If stuck in back, don't expect A8 proportions, but you likely won't have to shrug your neck down with your legs at each side of a front seatback either. There's only room for four, thanks to the little hard plastic console fitted between the rear buckets, allowing for a sportier, coupe-like atmosphere. But really Audi, you could have given that pathetic molded plastic rear console a little more pizzazz. Even lesser VW does a better job with its CC, offering a sliding cover with some metallic bling on the handle. Geesh! Where's the sense of occasion?

I really can't complain about anything else though. The rear seats that flank the console are comfortable and offer decent support if the driver gets carried away on a twisting section of roadway, plus they fold flat via a 60/40-split to extend the already large cargo area, that's accessible via a power-actuated liftgate, no less. Yes, it's totally practical, not to mention fully flexible and beautiful, just like I like my, er, cars.

Up front the A7 is just as breathtaking as any other Audi. Really, this brand never lets me down when it comes to combining eye-candy aesthetics with ergonomic realities, not to mention standard features. In Canada the trims are either Premium or Premium Plus (no, not the yummy saltine that dissolves so perfectly in tomato soup), with base cars getting such niceties as power-adjustable heated leather seats with driver seat memory, a powered tilt and telescopic heated leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, auto-dimming mirrors, Audi's Music Interface audio system with Sirius satellite radio, colour information display, dual-zone automatic climate control, rain-sensing wipers, Bluetooth connectivity that was easy to connect to my phone, a moonroof, aluminum door sills, Audi's advanced parking system, HID headlamps with LED running lights and washers, LED taillights, and all the expected safety equipment.

Audi gives you the no-cost choice of either matte brushed aluminum or fine grain ash natural wood, also in a matte finish, and mine was the latter. Striking! Audi also upped my tester's content to Premium Plus trim, which meant at just over $76k it came with proximity sensing access and pushbutton ignition, four-zone automatic climate control, adaptive headlamps, MMI Touch navigation, a rearview camera, blind spot assist, and a DVD/CD changer.

You can up content further to include LED headlights, head-up display, and Audi's Assistance package that includes adaptive cruise control, pre sense plus, and electrically folding mirrors with automatic anti-glare. Ventilated seats are also available, or you can opt for the Night Vision package that includes head-up display and a driver information system with a 7-inch colour display, or Bose premium audio with signal processing, 14 speakers, a 12-channel amp, 600 watts of power, and AudioPilot noise compensation for only $1,000. But if you've gone this far, don't stop here. For $5,500 more than the Bose system, the audiophile pièce de résistance is a $6,500 Bang & Olufsen upgrade with 19 active speakers for true 5.1 surround sound, plus a 19-channel amp with more than 1,400 watts in total output! Yowza!

An S line Sport package is also available, which includes unique S line exterior trim upgrades, unique 20-inch 7-double-spoke alloy wheels with performance tires, an S line steering wheel, a sport suspension, and more.

Pleasurable performance. Stunning styling. Fully featured. Fabulous functionality. The 2012 Audi A7 is how I like to ride.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Hatchback, Four-Door Coupe, Audi, 2012, A7, $50,000 - $74,999, Supercharger, Midsize,

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