Mercedes-Benz confused the world in 2005 with the introduction of the CLS by calling it a “four door coupe”. Surprisingly, VW followed the concept by offering the well-done, yet affordable Passat CC in 2009. Not wanting to be left out, Audi is rolling out the 2012 A7, which will be available later this month. With the A7, Audi borrowed the basic recipe for the German “coupe” that happens to have four doors, but with a twist. Take your mid-size car (in this case, the A6) and wrap it up in sexy, swoopy bodywork. The twist here, is that while the Benz and VW have trunks, the A7 is actually a hatchback, which instantly makes it the more practical choice.
While European shoppers can choose between two gas and two diesel engines for the A7, in North America we receive one drivetrain-the top-spec 3.0L supercharged V-6, rated at 310hp, paired to an 8-speed automatic and standard Quattro all-wheel drive. Pricing for the A7 starts at $59,250USD, but typical of German luxury automakers, that price can quickly escalate when you start checking off option boxes. Properly outfitted, the A7 is a technological tour de force, with available features like voice-activated Google Earth, rolling Wi-Fi hotspot functionality, color head up display, night vision assistant, and for the true audiophile, a 15-speaker, 1,300 watt Bang & Olufsen audio system.
Make no mistake, Audi is chasing a niche market with the A7, especially in the US, where consumers still rate hatchbacks as lesser cars than sedans. Still, it should be interesting to see how the A7 plays against its closest competitor, the Mercedes CLS550. The A7 is priced about $5,000 less, gives up two cylinders and 72hp to the Benz, but offers remarkably better fuel economy, as well as more practicality.