It’s been a few years since we bestowed our coveted (yet recently discontinued) AUTOMOBILE of the Year award on the 2012 Audi A7. Then a fresh-faced newborn in the four-door coupe realm, the A7 used the platform of its A6 sibling to great effect, draping it in sloped-roof sheetmetal with sculpted lines and chiseled features. Add a useful hatchback rear end that terminates in a Kamm-style tail and you could almost argue that the A7 was both practical and stylish, if not quite in equal measures. We were certainly devastated when our Four Seasons A7 only made it through eight of the 12 months we planned in our company — the car the victim of an unfortunate theft.
And so it was bittersweet when Audi dropped off a new 2016 Audi A7 at the door of our Southern California office for a week, replete with updates in both form and function that aim to keep the A7 relevant amid its evolving competitors. Specifically, we were handed the keys to an Ibis White A7 3.0T Quattro Tiptronic, the six-cylinder, all-wheel-drive version that has a base price of $68,225. While the handsome Nougat Brown leather interior was included at no additional cost, the natural-finish walnut wood trim added $700 to the car’s price tag.
The wood was just the start. The Prestige package ($2,650) included Bose surround sound, front seat ventilation and passenger lumbar adjustment, a head-up display, and LED interior lights. The S line sport package ($1,000) was less costly, including S line exterior styling enhancements, sport suspension, and 19-inch wheels — which were superseded by the optional 20-inch five-spoke wheel package on our tester, priced at $1,500 and making the S line package seem an even better value. The cold weather package ($500) was unnecessary for a fairly balmy March in Los Angeles, but we were especially keen to try out the driver assistance package, which, at $2,450, included a new active-lane-assist program. The package also offers “pre sense plus” (a frontal collision mitigation system), corner-view camera system, high-beam assist, and adaptive cruise control. All told, our tester was a $77,725 beauty — not cheap in general terms, but priced well for its segment and equipment level.
While the average Joe on the street probably won’t notice much change in the 2016’s styling, the more astute will immediately find the new LED head- and taillights and the subtle front-end changes, including a sharpened grille shape and chrome trim in the lower air inlets. Overall, it’s an effective reworking to modernize a design that has aged fairly well to begin with.
What you can’t tell from the fancy new design is that the supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 our tester arrived with has been massaged for an extra 23 horsepower over the current version. Now sitting at 333 hp and the same 325 lb-ft of torque as before, the A7 has a little extra giddyup. It’s certainly not lacking in grunt on the road. We’ve long been fans of the silky-smooth Audi 3.0T and combined with a slight recalibration of the car’s Quattro all-wheel drive system, it feels sharper than before. While some may wish to see Audi pair a dual-clutch gearbox with this engine, the eight-speed Tiptronic automatic is responsive enough and no doubt smoother in day-to-day driving. We tried the new active lane-keep system briefly and it worked as advertised, gently guiding the A7 back from well-marked traffic lanes. Using the system to avoid steering input for longer periods of time means the common ping-pong sensation is present, with the car slowly drifting from one side of the lane to the other and back again. That’s fine; the A7 isn’t autonomous. Yet.
Our major gripe with the 2016 Audi A7 is that, as with virtually all similar “four-door coupe” profiles, interior space — most notably, headroom — suffers. Though based on the A6, that conventional four-door sedan is more comfortable inside with a lower seating position relative to the dashboard and more headroom to boot than the A7. While you’ll be able to squeeze adults 5-feet-10 or taller in the rear seat of the A7 for short trips, it’s not an ideal arrangement. It must be mentioned, however, that this is par for the four-door coupe course.
We’d also probably skip the 20-inch optional wheels and stick with the 19s on the S line package for a little more road comfort. Those looking for an even plusher ride can forgo the S line package too and its firmer sport suspension. On a positive note, changes to the MMI media interface are positive and the system seems a little snappier in operation.
Otherwise, the 2016 Audi A7 is still an excellent way to make a statement on the road while retaining a modicum of practicality at the same time. But be warned: New Prologue concept-based styling is in the cards for the next-gen car if you can wait that long.
2016 Audi A7 3.0T Quattro Specifications
- On Sale: Now
- Base Price: $77,725
- Engine: 3.0L DOHC 24-valve V-6/333 hp @ 5,500 rpm, 325 lb-ft @ 2,900 rpm
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Layout: 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, 4WD sedan
- EPA Mileage: 20/30 mpg (city/hwy)
- L x W x H: 195.6 x 75.0 x 55.9 in
- Wheelbase: 114.7 in
- Weight: 4,200 lb
- 5.6 sec
- Top speed: 130 mph