One of my most vivid memories from traveling to Germany and taking a drive on the Autobahn was watching the left-hand lane. We cruised at a reasonable speed in my friend’s beat-up Honda Accord wagon (it was interesting being in a place where Japanese cars were universally considered to be crapcans, but that’s another story) and the faster souls would whip past on the left. And interestingly, though we were close to Stuttgart, most of them were Audis.

Oh, there’d be the occasional Porsche or BMW, and once even a SEAT, but for the most part, a casual glance at the Autobahn’s fast lane would have suggested that it was for the sole use of silver Audis. Every few seconds one would whip past, often moving so fast that there was a little air-pressure shockwave as it went: Thud. The whole drive from Heidelberg to Stuttgart was like that. Thud: silver Audi. Thud: silver Audi. Thud: silver Audi. It was like there was a cannon somewhere back there shooting Audis past us.

I’m reminded of that experience every time I get behind the wheel of an Audi — even more so with the silver 2015 Audi A7 TDI that I recently spent a week with. The curvy A7 is the personification of Audi’s high-speed luxury attitude, from the roof to the road.

Continue reading to lean more about my test drive with the Audi A7.

  • 2015 Audi A7 - Driven
  • Year:
    2015
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • 0-60 time:
    7 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    155 mph
  • Price:
    68500 (Est.)
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

Introduced in 2010 as an answer to the Mercedes CLS-Class "coupe-sedan," the A7 resembles an Audi sedan that’s pretending to be a Jaguar XJS. The A7 takes the best elements of Audi’s styling language and…kind of squashes them, resulting in a long, low and athletic sedan that stands out at the curb.

If this car pulled up to the curb and a voice inside said, “Get in, no time to explain,” I’d jump in without hesitation.

The family face has been smoothed out and lowered, with distinctive LED accents underlining the headlamps. At the rear, there’s a tailgate instead of a trunk, and the long, subtle slope to the rear backlight gives the A7 a unique tail.

This is my favorite of Audi’s current sedan lineup. It’s got that cool, fashion over function look that used to be the domain of Jaguar and American personal luxury coupes.

The A7 looks mysterious. If this car pulled up to the curb and a voice inside said, “Get in, no time to explain,” I’d jump in without hesitation. Would I say that about a Lexus LS or a Cadillac Escalade? No, I’d definitely hesitate.

Interior

2015 Audi A7 - Driven Interior
- image 630167

This vehicle’s a good place to start an adventure of any size. The A7 is low, sports-car low, but it’s reasonably spacious inside. As a four-place executive sedan, the A7 doesn’t disappoint, with comfortable seating for just that many and enough room that you don’t have to rub elbows if you don’t want to.

The A7 feels like a grand expression of Audi-ness, even though it’s not at the top of the food chain.

The mood is similar to that of the Porsche Panamera, but with Audi’s cool natural-textured wood trim instead of the more mechanical look of the pricier Panamera. This car exhibits a dual nature from behind the wheel as well, with deep cockpit-style seating and a low dashboard with Audi’s easy-to-read electroluminescent dash and a retractable navigation and information screen. But for the rear doors, this could be a four-place grand touring coupe.

The A7 feels like a grand expression of Audi-ness, even though it’s not at the top of the food chain. Four-zone climate control is standard on the A7 TDI. Audi’s navigation system is paired with Google Earth, providing a photographic satellite view that shows buildings and terrain as well as roads.

It and the other infotainment features are accessed through the rotary-dial Multi-Media Interface (MMI) system, which is less flashy than BMW’s iDrive but works just as well, putting it ahead of comparable systems from Cadillac, Mercedes and Lexus in terms of user-friendliness in my experience. In terms of sound systems, Audi offers upgrades to Bose or Bang & Olufsen systems.

Drivetrain

2015 Audi A7 - Driven Exterior
- image 630159

The A7 is available with several powertrains. The most sensible of the group is the 3.0 TDI clean diesel, which I drove. Audi’s 3.0 liter turbodiesel V6 is a fantastic engine, providing smooth and copious torque and quiet operation. There are 240 horses to motivate the two-ton A7, which is adequate. Not one of my passengers during the week noticed that it was a diesel, in fact.

I didn’t pass anyone quickly enough to make an autobahn-style thud, but it’s easy to tell that this car would gladly comply if that were the desire -- and it would return almost 40mpg while doing it.

The TDI-equipped A7 is not quick off the line, but its roll-on power is impressive as it brings all of its 428 pound-feet of torque to bear. After an initially lazy response, the A7 TDI responds with endless power, pulling strongly and steadily well past the legal limit. I didn’t pass anyone quickly enough to make an autobahn-style thud, but it’s easy to tell that this car would gladly comply if that were the desire—and it would return almost 40mpg while doing it.

An eight-speed Tiptronic transmission puts the power to the road via all four wheels, as is Audi’s standard, resulting in smooth power delivery. Gasoline engine options for the A7 lineup include a 310-horsepower 3.0 liter V6 and the much more monstrous 4.0 liter V8 that produces 420 horsepower in the S7 and 560 in the RS7. Compared to the 3.0 V6, the A7 TDI is a much more relaxed driver. It’s still miles above average, but it’s a much better freeway cruiser than a back-road carver.

The A7’s high-speed stability is almost flawless. Especially at legal American freeway speeds, this car is poised and relaxed. The suspension’s a sophisticated one, with a five-link setup in the front and trapezoidal links at the rear. In application, the A7 has a nailed-to-the-ground feeling that’s occasionally a little bit stiff over serious road irregularities. This is a hard car to surprise, and it drives like a much smaller vehicle. Sudden inputs are absorbed with ease and possibly just a bit of enjoyment; a bit of the A7’s inherited athleticism will shine through if it’s driven hard.

The standard all-wheel drive provides secure and neutral handling; strong brakes are on hand to haul you to a stop without drama, and Audi includes a blind spot monitor and a backup camera with the A7. While observing this car’s handling capability, I kept coming back to the fact that the A7 TDI is the "sensible" member of the family — that is, this one’s not supposed to be the high-performance version. And even with that in mind, it handily trounces competitive vehicles in terms of dynamics and comfort.

Prices

The TDI is the second step in the A7’s price ladder, which starts with the standard 3.0 V6-powered A7 at $65,900. The TDI’s MSRP is $68,300, and above that is the performance-oriented S7, whose 4.0 turbocharged V8 and sport suspension will set you back at least $82,500. King of both the performance and pricing hill is the $106,500 RS 7.

Competition

Mercedes CLS-Class

2015 Mercedes CLS-Class High Resolution Exterior
- image 556537

Like the rest of Mercedes’ sedan lineup, the CLS-Class is available with a range of personalities to go with its eyecatching looks. The six- and eight-cylinder models are good cruisers, while the AMG-enhanced CLS63 AMG handily backs up the promise of the aggressively sporty looks. Mercedes excels at creating vehicles that feel special inside and out, and the CLS-Class benefits from this magic as well.

Read our full review here.

BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe

2016 BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe High Resolution Exterior
- image 585581

The four-door 6 Series is a four-door coupe in the truest sense of the word, in that the 6 Series lineup has traditionally been a two-door. The Gran Coupe retains the close-coupled feel of the two-door, with slightly understated looks and seating for four. The M version is track-ready right off the showroom floor.

Read our full review here.

Porsche Panamera

2016 Porsche Panamera Edition
- image 624226

Porsche may not be used to competing with marques other than Ferrari, Aston Martin and Chevrolet, but its foray into the sports sedan market has yielded a very nice car. Though panned by Porschephiles, the Panamera is a fantastic driver and everything you’d want a four-door Porsche to be, from the nimble reflexes to the road-crushing power from both V6 and V8 models.

Read our full review here.

Conclusion

2015 Audi A7 - Driven Exterior
- image 630157

Coupe-sedans are an interesting blend of sporty dynamics and executive-class comfort, and so forming an expectation from the group as a whole can be a bit murky. If your expectation is an unusually curvy sedan that can back up its looks with real performance, the A7 delivers.The A7 is a serious sports sedan, and probably the best combination of Audi’s controlled poise and beautiful styling.

  • Leave it
    • Slow-ish off the line compared to gasoline engines
    • Not subtle
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