2013 Audi A7 Introduction

The 2013 Audi A7 is a luxurious four-passenger sedan that looks like a coupe and offers the functionality of a wagon, thanks to its fastback rear hatch. First introduced for 2012, the Audi A7 is based on the same platform as the Audi A6 and has nearly the same footprint, save for the A7's distinctive sloping roofline.

New for 2013 is the line-topping S7, which features a unique front grille and exterior trim, along with unique 19-inch wheels. Inside, the S7 has beautiful diamond-stitched leather interior. The 2013 Audi S7 is powered the same engine found in the Audi S6, a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 that cranks out 420 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. Quattro all-wheel drive comes standard. Audi claims the S7 has a 0-60 mph time of just 4.5 seconds. Also like the S6, the S7 uses cylinder-deactivation technology to improve fuel economy. But performance doesn't come cheap, as the S7 starts at more than $18,000 more than the base A7.

Audi A7 models are powered by a supercharged 3.0-liter V6, good for 310 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. The only transmission offered is an 8-speed automatic. Quattro all-wheel drive is standard. EPA fuel economy ratings for the 2013 Audi A7 are a respectable 18/28 mpg City/Highway.

Audi isn't the first to make a luxury sedan that nestles into the emerging space between sporty and spacious. Others include the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe, Mercedes-Benz CLS, Jaguar XF, and Porsche Panamera. Most of these are about the same size, with the exception of the Mercedes, which is a couple of inches smaller. Acura dipped its toe in the water with its coupe-like ZDX, but the company announced the ZDX would be discontinued after the 2013 model year.

The silhouette of the Audi A7 is sleek. It's more like the Jaguar XF than any of the other four-door coupes. From the rear, the stretching roofline and glass of the A7 give it a retro look, like some of the fastback sports cars of the 1950s.

The A7 interior is lovely, the dashboard wrapping around the driver and into the front doors, the beautiful instrument panel perfectly framed by the three-spoke sport steering wheel. Legroom is acceptable in the rear seats. The 60/40 rear seatback flips down to a flat floor, and opens up the rear for cargo carrying that rivals a station wagon, accessible under the fifth door, the liftback.

We love the Google Earth navigation screen in the A7, which makes a fantastic map to follow, on a big pop-up screen. As for the navigation system itself, the good news is it will allow you to set a destination while the car is moving, but we found its accuracy lacking.

In the drivetrain department, the V6 is fast and silky, and the 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission is seamless. Audi Drive Select allows the driver to choose one of four modes: Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual. These modes adjust the transmission, power steering and engine to modify shift points, steering boost and throttle characteristics.

We found the A7 ride was smooth and comfortable at all times, even with 20-inch wheels and a sport suspension. The more we challenged the A7 in corners, the better it felt. However, we found the 20-inch tires sensitive to road surfaces, the car tending to move around at 70 mph. This may have been due to the optional low-profile 20-inch tires or the new electromechanical power steering system. The A7 Premium model may be more stable in this regard with its 18-inch wheels and tires.

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