We don't bestow our Automobile of the Year award on just any vehicle; cars worthy of the endorsement typically demonstrate technical innovation, a large improvement over the outgoing model, or some sort of wow factor not found in other cars. The Audi A7, however, drew our attention and our acclaim because it is the pinnacle of the excellence we have come to expect from Audi. From its gorgeous styling to its exquisite interior and from its potent engine to its outstanding in-car electronics, the A7 impressed us in every way.
"It's the culmination of everything Audi has promised," proclaimed editor-in-chief Jean Jennings.
With that in mind, we ordered a 2012 Audi A7 for a Four Seasons test. Spending twelve months with the A7 will help determine whether our attraction to the car is short-term lust or the beginning of a long-term love affair.
Pricing for the Audi A7 begins at $60,125, but, as befits a luxury car, we chose almost every option package available, bringing the total price to $78,680. The upgrades began with the $6330 Prestige Package, which bundles push-button entry and ignition, ambient lighting, adaptive headlights, S line exterior trim, Audi's MMI Navigation-plus, four-zone climate control, and parking sensors, among several other premium features. Piercingly bright LED headlights set us back an additional $1400. On top of that, we chose the $2500 Driver Assistance Package, which has radar-guided adaptive cruise control, collision and blind-spot warning systems, and power-folding heated exterior mirrors. We paid another $5900 to get the fifteen-speaker, 1300-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system, which has a pair of sculpted tweeters that rise from the dashboard when the car is started. The Sport Package cost $1500 and added twenty-inch wheels with summer performance tires, a sport suspension, and a three-spoke steering wheel with shift paddles. Finally, in deference to Michigan's variable climate, we opted for the $450 Cold Weather Package, which adds a heated steering wheel and heated rear seats.
Our A7 wears oolong gray metallic paint ($475), which further contributes to the car's upscale and elegant appearance; one staffer's family member said the Audi reminded him of an Aston Martin. Inside, nougat brown leather upholstery almost perfectly matches the wood-grain inlays on the dashboard and door panels. Styling details like the swooping liftgate, the automatically extending rear spoiler, and frameless windows make the A7 even more alluring.
The only engine choice is a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 that produces 310 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. It is attached to an eight-speed automatic transmission and Audi's Quattro all-wheel drive. Although luxury-car buyers have long favored V-8s, the A7 doesn't want for a larger engine. The direct-injected V-6 provides plentiful torque at any speed; the A7 will run from 0 to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds.
In its first few weeks in our care, the Audi A7 has already made excursions to Kentucky and to the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance in Florida. It's no surprise that a car this glamorous and comfortable is in high demand for long journeys, and it seems almost inevitable that we'll spend much of the next year squabbling over who gets to take the A7 on its next road trip.