At a recent U.S. launch party for the A7, Audi executives repeatedly emphasized that cars can be sold on emotional design just as much as they are on affordability, reliability, drivability, practicality. All this was an attempt to rationalize the A7's exterior -- which, from certain angles, is extremely dramatic. I'm not blown away by the front fascia design (the A6, A7, and A8 trio are starting to look quite similar), but everything aft of the A-pillars is neck-snapping, jaw-dropping, retina-popping attractive. The fastback roof and chiseled shoulders turn heads, and are vaguely reminiscent of the wild Estoque concept fielded by corporate cousin Lamborghini at the 2008 Paris motor show.
Audi may insist styling is crucial to winning buyers, but a well-heeled analyst recently opined that the next battleground for automakers will lie with the human-machine interface -- or how well a driver can control, command, and interact with the plethora of interactive tools installed in today's automobiles. Fortunately, Audi seems to have a win in this category as well. Audi's latest MMI system incorporates a touch-sensitive pad next to the typical jog wheel controller. This feature is capable of many things (i.e. selecting radio station presets, scrolling through maps, etc.), but it's greatest ability is when a driver is attempting to dial a phone number or insert a destination. Letters, numbers, and characters can be scrawled upon the pad with the wave of a fingertip -- and better yet, without the driver taking his or her eyes off the road ahead.
Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor
I love the profile of the Audi A7. Whether you call it a four-door coupe or a hatchback sedan, it's a car that is more sleek and stylish than the typical Audi sedans yet contains many of their design hallmarks. Inside the cabin, the matte wood on the dash and center console is perfectly lovely, as are the leather upholstery and the metallic trim pieces. The controls are immediately recognizable, as they mimic those found in the new Audi A8 sedan. The tabbed information center on the instrument panel between the speedometer and the tach is very useful. With a touch of the steering wheel controls, you can tab between information for the radio, your phone, the nav system, and the "short-term memory," which shows you your current mpg and how long you've been driving. There's no V-8 engine available for the A7, but the 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 paired with a smooth-as-silk eight-speed transmission never left me wanting for more. 310 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque are plenty, thank you.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor