2012 Audi A7 3.0T Premium Plus

Matt Tierney

The Audi A7 is like a more rational version of the Mercedes-Benz CLS. Even though it still only seats four, it has more headroom under its sloping roofline than does the Merc, it has Audi's Quattro all-wheel drive and a hatchback for added utility.

But this market segment isn't about being rational -- it's about sex appeal. Mercedes created the so-called four-door "coupe" segment with the first-generation CLS500 in the 2005 model year. Although nothing more than a re-skinned E-Class, both that original CLS and the second-generation model are sultry, seductive, and alluring.

The Audi A7 uses the same formula: take an A6 midsize sedan and drape a swoopy new body on it. The sweeping roofline shows that this car is, indeed, a hatchback, and is not unattractive; I am left feeling cold though, as the A7's exterior seems more engineered than designed. The interior, on the other hand, is a work of expert craftsmanship and Teutonic design with matte wood trim, soft black leather, and metal-trimmed controls that move with the precision of a Swiss watch.

What the A7 lacks is that sex appeal. Neither the A7 nor the CLS are cheap propositions -- both costing well above $60,000 (more than the conventional sedans they're based on); customers are paying for that extra style and verve. Sex is what is called for in the four-door coupe market, but the A7 is more Jennifer Aniston than Angelina Jolie.

Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor

The A7 is everything we've come to expect in luxury car from Audi. It's refined, super luxurious, and explosively quick. I'm generally a proponent of the hatchback/wagon profile, but while Audi's use of a rear hatch gives the A7 greater utility than the Mercedes-Benz CLS, the resulting overall shape looks a bit bloated to my eyes. And while it's an extremely large and somewhat imposing vehicle, from the driver's seat the cabin actually feels cramped. The large steering wheel is partially to blame but the main culprits are the ultrawide console between the front seats and the navigation screen that, instead of being integrated, extends up and out of the top of the dash when the vehicle is turned on. It's a good idea in theory because it conserves dash space but I found it somewhat obtrusive. Plus, it looks slightly like an aftermarket add-on, which is strange in a $65,000-plus vehicle.

Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms

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