Over the past five years, just about every German automaker has rushed to combine the body styles coupe and sedan, with varying levels of success. Not Audi. The automaker from Ingolstadt has more or less sat coolly on the sidelines as its rivals launched all manner of so-called four-door coupes, sport-activity vehicles, and four-door-coupe-hatchback supercars. Now, at last, we're seeing Audi's contribution to this fledgling segment in the form of the production A7.
Being a latecomer, the A7 is hardly an innovator in terms of design -- the sweeping roofline follows the trend set by the Mercedes-Benz CLS way back in 2005, and the rear hatch is a trick that both BMW and Porsche have incorporated into their four-door coupes. However, the taut sheetmetal, carried over with few changes from the 2009 A7 Sportback concept, ties all these elements together in a much more cohesive and convincing fashion than most of the similar offerings currently on the market (we're talking to you, Porsche Panamera). And thankfully, Audi hasn't attempted to mix any crossover genes into the design, à la BMW 5-series Gran Turismo or Acura ZDX. In fact, the roofline is slightly shorter than that of the current A6.
There aren't many surprises inside, where the layout and styling sticks to the brand's usual handsome themes. The in-cabin technology, on the other hand, is superfresh, as the A7 gets the latest-generation MMI interface first seen in the 2011 A8. Standard on all A7s, it features a touch pad on which drivers can "write" commands, find points of interest, and call up phone numbers. The car can also connect with Google to download maps and news, and the A7 also serves as a wireless hotspot, although it's unclear whether these features will pass muster with U.S. safety regulators. And then there's the top-of-the-line stereo -- a fifteen-speaker, 1300-watt affair by Bang & Olufsen (a Bose setup suffices for base models). Like most of its competitors, the A7 seats four in almost absurd opulence. Each chair is power adjustable, with options including heating and massage functions, as well as various grades of leather. The rear seats fold down to open up about fifty cubic feet of cargo room. Beyond the MMI interface, the A7 inherits a raft of A8 technologies, including optional LED headlights and adaptive cruise control that can engage full braking to avoid (or soften) a collision.