It's not surprising that some on our staff had almost forgotten we had an Audi A7 in our Four Seasons fleet; the luxury car spent two months and close to 15,000 miles away from our office. Fortunately, contributor Ronald Ahrens agreed to drive the A7 back from San Francisco to Michigan over the course of a week. The lengthy drive didn't seem to bother Ahrens, who soon fell in love with our Audi and proclaimed, "After 2000 miles, I know that I'll never tire of the car's design, inside or out."
Now that it's back in our care, several staff members have praised the A7's strong powertrain. The 310-hp, supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 continues to rack up commendations for its broad torque range and smooth power delivery. One driver was even fooled into thinking our Audi had a V-8 engine, an impression belied by fuel economy that has stretched to as much as 29 mpg during highway stints. "I know some potential customers are turned off by the lack of a V-8," commented senior web editor Phil Floraday, "But the supercharged six offers more than enough scoot."
The smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission has drawn similar accolades, with staffers describing it as "excellent" and "one of the finest transmissions." At least one driver, however, has noted that the transmission can feel "grabby" as it downshifts when coming to a stop. West coast editor Jason Cammisa also griped that the steering wheel-mounted shift toggles don't suit a $78,660 luxury car: "The shift paddles are made from the same scratchy hard plastic as in a Volkswagen GTI. Really?"
One persistent comment has crept into recent logbook entries, and it concerns the view behind the driver. Though key to its stylish design, the Audi's steeply sloping rear window and curvaceous rear fenders have attracted criticism for reducing visibility. "In San Francisco traffic, the car's rear quarters seemed like they belonged to another car," wrote contributor Dale Drinnon. Cammisa agreed that, "Rear visibility is fairly horrible, but that's a small price to pay for the A7's good looks." Our Audi is equipped with a blind-spot monitoring system and backup camera, which will hopefully prevent us from crunching the car's gorgeous sheetmetal.
A more pressing concern is the lack of a rear wiper, which allows water to collect and make the rear window almost opaque during heavy rainfall. Although omitting the rear wiper is a common design feature on stylish coupes, it has nonetheless frustrated staffers piloting the A7 in downpours. "Hey Audi, Porsche offers an optional rear wiper on the 911," noted associate web editor Donny Nordlicht, "I'm sure you could too."
With multiple long-distance trips under its belt, it was time for our Audi A7 to have its 15,000-mile service. Unlike the first service at 5000 miles, this visit was not covered under warranty and cost us $452. It consisted of an oil change, replacing the cabin air filter, checking and refilling various fluids, and a thorough inspection. At the same time, we had the dealer swap back to the factory-specification tires. Upon delivery, we installed Continental ExtremeContact all-season tires on the factory 20-inch wheels. We're now driving on the original Yokohama Advan Sport summer tires; swapping rubber cost another $220 at the local Audi dealer. Our dealership also noted that the Audi A7's right rear wheel has been slightly bent, probably due to careless parking. Even though it has racked up miles at near-record pace -- it's averaging 5000 miles per month -- our Audi A7 has so far proved extremely reliable. The check-engine light illuminated in California, but was fixed by carefully replacing the gas cap. The tire-pressure monitoring warning light illuminated once after descending a mountain, and once again in Ann Arbor, but refilling the tires corrected the problem.
As the summer road-trip season approaches, the Audi A7 is unlikely to get any respite from long journeys across the U.S.