The A7s we drove in Europe were European-specification and used Audi's 7-speed twin-clutch S-tronic transmission, and all we can say is: we're glad we're getting the ZF 8-speed torque-converter automatic. There's nothing horribly wrong with the twin-clutch unit, but the torque converter is far smoother under off-the-line acceleration and in low-speed maneuvering.
And smooth is the name of the game with the A7. The 3.0T still sounds a little like a vacuum cleaner, but it's quiet, and its power delivery is silky. Made partially of Aluminum, the A7 weighs 4100 lb, according to Audi. Our butt scales think the actual weight of a well-equipped A7 will be closer to 4500-it didn't feel quite as lively as Audi's quoted 0-100 km/h time (5.6 seconds) would suggest.
Riding on optional 20-inch wheels, the A7 generated an astonishing amount of cornering grip, no doubt thanks to the aggressive 265/35-YR20 Yokohama Advan Sport summer tires fitted. Cornering balance was surprisingly neutral, and body control excellent. Sadly, the perfectly paved, smooth roads on our test drive didn't give us the opportunity to test what the ride will be like on our third-world U.S. roads.
We did get to sit in the back seat, though -- and though legroom isn't quite as vast as this big Audi's exterior dimensions might suggest, it's more than adequate, and headroom isn't an issue despite the steeply sloping roof. The word claustrophobia will never come to mind -- it's light and airy in back, no doubt helped by the frameless windows' larger openings.
Audi's MMI interface takes a step forward in usability with the touchpad that debuted in the A8 (which allows you to spell out the name of navigation destinations), but it takes a few steps back at the same time. A new menu structure requires that you take your eyes off the road more often than before, and with two sets of buttons surrounding the circular MMI controller, both arranged in the same square (one in each corner), it's easy for your fingers to aim for the wrong button. Additionally, the engine start button and the stereo volume control are both mounted on the passenger side of the shifter -- a curious placement at best.