When I first heard about the Audi A7, I dismissed it as a Mercedes-Benz CLS wannabe. The CLS was always nice enough to drive, but its only real appeal was skin-deep. Audi has brought much more than just a visually pleasing exterior to the table -- I really, really enjoyed my time in this car.
Before I drove the 2012 Audi A7 that we're reviewing here, I spent two days riding in the back seat of a different Audi A7 and couldn't believe how spacious and comfortable it was. I can't imagine anyone under 6' 2" complaining about a lack of headroom in the back seat. Legroom was also more than adequate with an average height driver sitting in front of me. The leather and wood used throughout the interior look and feel great, and the four-seat configuration feels more special than a regular bench rear seat.
Audi has done a great job of integrating Google Earth maps with its navigation system. If you happen to be driving near a lake or river, it's fun to get a sense of scale from the maps and it's a little funny to drive through an area that was mapped during the snow season when it's 70 degrees outside. It's also possible to establish a Wi-Fi network inside the car using the same SIM card that powers the Google Earth connection. Perhaps this innovation isn't so important now that smartphones can browse the web with relative ease, but it's certainly a selling point for some people.
Despite the coupe-like profile of the car, there's a lot of useable space in the trunk/hatch area. It was a bit weird to sit in the back seat when the power hatch was raised to access the cargo, but you can't argue with the execution when the overnight bags for four people fit easily with plenty of room to spare. The A7 fills a legitimate spot in the Audi lineup by offering more room and style than an A6 and a lower price than an A8. This car will probably steal more than a few sales from the Mercedes-Benz CLS.
Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor