Audi A7 boasts wagon-like utility

A fresh approach to luxury car design, the new Audi A7 looks like an attractive four-door coupe, but has a fifth rear door that allows wagon-like utility, hence the Sportback part of its full name.

Completely hidden is its lightweight yet very rigid aluminum structure. While big in its physical dimensions, the A7 weighs in at 1,695 kg. It’s powered by a potent yet fuel-efficient V6 engine with hybrid-like technology and it’s mated with an advanced Quattro drive system that includes a torque-vectoring rear differential.

Key design elements of the A7 are its long hood, long wheelbase and short body overhangs. Another is what’s call a “tornado line” or body crease that starts at the headlights, extends along the side, gently slopes towards the tail lights and then extends across the rear. Most of body skins are made of aluminum, including the fenders, the lids and doors.

The A7 also comes with frameless door glass, side mirrors with integrated LED turn signals and LED tail lights. Its covert rear spoiler automatically appears at 130 km/hour and retracts again at 80 km/hour, or you can activate it (any time) via a button on the dash.

A unique A7 feature is an optional adaptive headlight control unit that’s linked with the MMI navigation-plus system. The navigation system sends advance route data to the light computer and it can do stuff like automatically switching on a cornering light before entering an intersection. It can even automatically switch the headlights from driving on the right to driving on the left, if you change countries.

Audi’s now signature daytime running lights are strips of 18 LED lights that give the appearance of a curved band on the lower edge of each headlight assembly. And below them are the turn signals, another strip of (11) LED lights.

The power-operated long rear hatch extends up into the A7’s roofline and when open exposes a large, fully-carpeted luggage compartment. It offers 535 litres of cargo space and when the 60:40 split rear seat backs are folded down it increases to 1,390 litres, which is almost 50 cu. ft.

Inside, the A7 offers luxurious form-fit seating for four with separate-zone climate controls for all positions. As we’ve come to expect from Audi, the interior layout is superb and the materials used and craftsmanship are second to none. The new (optional) layered oak veneer trim not only looks rich and refined, it has a textured natural feel.

But it’s not until you slide into the driver’s seat that you start to realize the amazing onslaught of new technology that’s at your disposal in an A7. Available features include a new touchpad that the driver can use to perform numerous functions and, get this, it allows the use of a finger to spell a destination or input number digits.

Other systems include active lane assist to help the driver keep the A7 between the painted road lane lines, a head-up display that projects important information on the windshield, night-vision assistance with thermal imaging, advanced cruise control with a stop-and-go feature that can be used in city traffic to maintain a safe distance, a side assist (blind spot) warning system, Audi Drive Select and there’s a park-assist system that can do all the tricky steering work required to parallel park in a tight space.

The top-notch optional audio system in an A7 is an Advanced Sound System from Bang & Olufsen. It features 1,300 watts of power and 15 speakers. When turned on, two little speakers pop up out from the top corners of the dash . . . it sounds odd, but looks cool.

The Canadian A7 will come with a 3.0-litre TFSI V6 engine that uses forced air induction and direct fuel injection to achieve maximum power output. The blower is a supercharger that uses two downstream intercoolers to cool the intake air.

All of which allows the 3.0 litre to produce up to 300 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque is available between 2,900 and 4,500 rpm. It’s a smooth and quiet revving engine that allows the A7 to sprint to 100 km/hour in just 5.6 seconds, according to Audi.

The hybrid connection is an auto stop feature that turns the engine off when the vehicle stops and instantly restarts the engine when the driver’s foot releases the foot brake.

The A7 Sportback is due for release in the second quarter of 2011, fuel figures and pricing for Canada has not yet been released.

Photograph by: PNG, PNG