"Those 20-inch wheels may look great, but they're not worth the cost."
Labor Day may have meant a day off work for most of us, but our Audi A7 didn't get any reprieve from its usual road-trip duty. Managing editor Amy Skogstrom and her husband took the luxury car to South Carolina for a golf tournament at Myrtle Beach.
"This was the first chance I had to spend an extended amount of time in the A7, and it was a perfect traveling companion," Skogstrom said. Two golf bags easily fit in the Audi's trunk, but the sloping rear windshield cut down on cargo room so much that the Skogstroms had to place their roller bags on the car's back seat. The pair praised the car's intuitive navigation system, comfortable seats, and smooth supercharged engine.
"The controls were all simple to use and the accommodations were first class," Skogstrom said. "The V-6 is all the engine you'd ever need in this car, and the ride never felt too harsh."
Once the car was back in Ann Arbor, we sent it to the dealership to have the faulty third brake light replaced. Some of the LEDs in the CHMSL had burned out, so Audi replaced the entire assembly for free under the car's four-year/50,000-mile warranty. It's a good thing we were covered by the warranty, because if we'd had to shell out money ourselves for the repair, we would have spent $374 on parts and another $115 in labor costs.
With its lights back in service, the Audi has once again proved almost flawless. We'd omit the word "almost" were it not for evidence that one of the car's pricey wheels is bent. Even though we previously spent $130 to have a wheel repaired, a persistent vibration at speed signals that another one of the rims has been bent or damaged. We plan to have Alloy Wheel Repair Specialists, the company that repaired the other wheel, return to our office to address the bent rim. If they can't fix it, we may have to shell out over $700 for a new one from Audi.
The problem has led some editors to question whether the Audi's big wheels and low-profile tires are worth the hassle. "I'm still not in love with the 20-inch wheels because they compromise ride quality, reduce steering feel, and are easily bent on poor roads," said senior online editor Phil Floraday.
Associate web editor Donny Nordlicht agreed: "Those 20-inch wheels may look great, but they're not worth the cost upfront when you buy the car, or when they inevitably get damaged."
Even so, Floraday conceded that our choice of rims hasn't affected his view on the Audi: "Overall, life with the A7 is great."
It's no secret that our Audi A7 has covered a serious number of miles in our care, and all those road trips are taking a toll on the driver's seat. Two drivers reported that the Nougat Brown leather on the driver's seat has started to stretch and bulge. Skogstrom wasn't overly concerned and said the seat simply "doesn't quite look brand new anymore." Nordlicht delivered a much harsher verdict: "It looks like jeans that have been stretched out from wear." At least the interior plastics, carpeting, and wood trim still look fresh after all those miles.
The car's exterior, by contrast, remains in excellent shape. Even seven months into our year-long loan of the Audi A7, we're still waxing lyrical over its design.
"Pictures don't do this car justice," Nordlicht said. "Depending on the light, the Oolong Grey paint takes on a different hue from deep stormy gray, to a mysterious bayou fog green, to a crisp dawn gray. The rear proportions are perfect and just flat-out stunning."
After he was done staring, Nordlicht got in the A7 and drove 300 miles in a weekend. He came away quite satisfied with our Four Seasons car: "The powertrain is still one of the best in the business, and despite its large size, the A7 is quite easy to drive. Neutral steering, strong brakes, and plenty of acceleration make the Audi drive like a smaller car."
As the weather in Michigan starts to cool, Skogstrom has a prediction for how the Audi A7 will spend winter: "I foresee that it will continue to be in demand, what with its Quattro all-wheel drive and luxury features like a heated steering wheel." We'll let you know whether her forecast proves correct.