- Standard V6 engine delivers exceptional performance
- Top-notch tech ranges from an in-car Wi-Fi hotspot to a full set of driver safety aids
- Hatchback offers more flexible cargo space than regular sedan's trunk
- Rear headroom is tight for taller passengers
- Ride is stiff when fitted with 20-inch wheels
Credit Audi for knowing when to leave well enough alone. The 2017 Audi A7 carries over from last year with only minor changes and that's plenty OK with us. Possibly to ease the sting of its beloved, discontinued diesel-engine model, Audi introduced a new Competition trim level that pumps out a little more horsepower and style.
Other than those minor changes, the A7's traditional strengths remain. It's standard V6 engine delivers exceptional performance while the standard all-wheel drive makes the A7 a viable option in any climate. It also features one of the most richly decorated interiors you'll find in this price range. The only real catch is that rear headroom suffers relative to the mechanically identical A6 sedan, and you can get a comparable A6 for thousands less.
But the sedan is sedate by comparison and it can't match the A7's versatile hatchback trunk. In fact, the only real true rival out there is the Porsche Panamera and its base price begins about where a loaded A7 ends.
There are other "four-door coupes" to consider like the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class and BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe. Both make compelling cases with style and speed, but lack the cargo prowess of the A7's liftgate hatch. And by comparison with the Audi's modern-cool interior, the Benz's cabin comes up looking a little plain. No car is an easy choice in this class, but the 2017 A7's unique attributes make it tough to resist.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2017
The 2017 Audi A7 gets subtle new styling enhancements and a sportier new Competition trim level. A Bose surround audio system now comes standard.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2017 Audi A7 is a midsize luxury four-door hatchback available in three trim levels: Premium Plus, Prestige and new Competition Prestige. The higher-performance2016 Audi S7 and2016 Audi RS 7 are reviewed separately.
Standard equipment on the Premium Plus includes 19-inch wheels, Audi Drive Select (providing adjustable settings for steering, accelerator and transmission response), Audi Pre Sense Basic and Rear (see "Safety," below for more info), a blind-spot warning system, automatic adaptive LED headlights, LED running lights and taillights, a power liftgate, automatic wipers, auto-dimming power-folding heated mirrors, a sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, an adaptive rear spoiler and keyless entry and ignition.
Inside you'll find four-zone automatic climate control, a power-adjustable steering wheel with shift paddles, leather upholstery, heated eight-way power seats (with four-way driver lumbar adjustment), driver memory settings, an 8-inch motorized pop-up display screen, a rearview camera, a navigation system with voice controls,Audi Connect (providing Google Earth-enhanced navigation, Google search functions, smartphone-app integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and 4G LTE with mobile Wi-Fi hotspot capability), the MMI infotainment system with console-mounted controls, Bluetooth and a 14-speaker Bose surround sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and USB audio connectivity.
The Prestige adds LED ambient interior lighting, ventilated front seats with passenger lumbar adjustments, a head-up display and power-closing doors.
New for 2017 is the Competition Prestige trim level, which features 20-inch titanium-finish wheels, a firmer suspension, a high-performance rear differential, sport seats, upgraded leather, a flat-bottom steering wheel, black cloth headliner, and various styling flourishes like high-gloss black trim pieces, red brake calipers, and brushed metal inlays.
Most A7 options come bundled in various packages. The Cold Weather package includes heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel. The S Line Sport package adds special 19-inch wheels, sport-themed exterior styling flourishes, a firmer suspension and an available add-on Black Optic package that contributes 20-inch wheels and high-gloss black trim on the grille and window surrounds.
The Driver Assistance package includes automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, Audi Pre Sense Plus (including a forward collision mitigation system with automatic braking), a corner-view camera system (front and rear) and lane keeping assist. The Comfort Seating Package throws in upgraded leather and ventilated power front seats with massage and memory functions.
Other notable options include rear side airbags, walnut interior accents and two items limited to the Prestige: a night-vision camera system with pedestrian detection and a Bang & Olufsen audio system.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
The A7's interior is thoughtfully designed and tightly constructed, with excellent materials quality. Subtle wood accents add to the premium feel along with subtle ambient lighting. Audi's Multi Media Interface (MMI) controls audio, communication and navigation functions with a knob on the console and a pop-up dashboard screen. MMI boasts logical menus and crisp graphics, and after a short time it becomes very intuitive.
The A7 is also equipped with Audi Connect, which includes 4G LTE data connectivity with mobile Wi-Fi for up to eight devices, Google Earth data for the navigation system and simplified Google search for POIs. The Google Earth feature is a cool concept, but in practice it's an example of form over function, as the "enhanced" map can be more difficult to read at a glance compared to a conventional navigation map.
Fitting five passengers in the A7 is quite feasible, as long as the passengers in back aren't very tall. Headroom up front is acceptable, but the sleek, sloping roofline limits rear headroom. It also makes getting in and out of the rear seats more difficult. There's plenty of legroom in both the front and back seats although it's worth noting that the A7 Competition seats only two passengers in the backseat.
The A7's hatchback design enables easy loading of luggage and larger items that might not fit in the trunk of a conventional sedan. Official cargo capacity is 24.5 cubic feet, but lowering the rear seatbacks increases that volume significantly.
Standard safety equipment on the 2017 Audi A7 includes antilock disc brakes, stability control, a blind-spot warning system, front and rear parking sensors, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and front knee airbags. Rear side airbags are a stand-alone option, while the Driver Assistance package adds adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability, a corner-view camera system and lane keeping assist.
The standard Audi Pre Sense Basic system warns the driver, tensions the seatbelts and closes the windows if a potential collision is detected, while the Pre Sense Rear system (also standard) uses the brake light to warn traffic behind the vehicle in the event of a rear collision. The Audi Pre Sense Plus system (included in the Driver Assistance package) can do all that, plus fully tighten the seatbelts and automatically apply the brakes full force to mitigate the severity of an imminent crash.
In Edmunds brake testing, we evaluated an A7 3.0T with 20-inch wheels and summer tires that came to a stop from 60 mph in 106 feet. That's a short distance for a car in this class.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The 2017 Audi A7 comes standard with a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 (3.0T) that generates 333 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. In Competition trim, the same engine delivers 340 hp. All-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission are standard.
Of note, Audi has discontinued sales of its TDI diesel engine models pending regulatory review of its emissions standards.
In Edmunds performance testing, an A7 3.0T accelerated to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds, which is very quick for this class of car with a six-cylinder engine. EPA fuel economy estimates for the A7 3.0T stand at 24 mpg combined (20 mpg city/30 mpg highway).
Although it's not billed as the high-performance model in the lineup (the S7 and RS 7 fill that role), the A7 is an impressive performer . The supercharged V6 is a stunning engine that provides nearly instantaneous throttle response and the kind of acceleration you would typically associate with a V8-powered sedan.
The A7 comes with Audi's Drive Select feature, which alters throttle response, transmission shift characteristics and steering effort via four different modes: Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual. We've found it a challenge to dial in exactly the right settings for our taste, and the steering feel doesn't impress us in any of the settings.
Along with this dull steering, a hefty curb weight and sizable exterior prevent the A7 from feeling like a sport sedan. You can hustle it along, but it doesn't offer much enjoyment or engagement in return. We suggest sticking with the smaller 19-inch wheels, as they provide a more supple ride and won't appreciably detract from the A7's real-world handling.
Beautiful design alone makes the 2017 Audi A7 a desirable luxury car. But if you're not easily swayed by looks, the A7's exceptional interior room, handy hatchback trunk and refined performance should charm your pragmatic side. Although that sleek, sloping roofline eats up some rear headroom, the A7 is still one of the best picks in the class.