Audi A7 Performance
With its powerful supercharged V6 and refined eight-speed automatic transmission, test drivers agree that the 2012 Audi A7 is one sweet ride. Quattro all-wheel drive also comes as standard equipment, and combined with the A7’s suspension tuning and low height, most reviewers agree that this luxury car handles with exceptional prowess.
They say that the A7’s ride is comfortable, but it’s also capable of impressive cornering maneuvers. Audi’s MMI user interface allows users to select Automatic, Sport or Comfort drive modes on the two upper trims, altering steering feel and throttle response. On the downside, not all reviewers love the A7’s steering and brake feel. One auto writer says that the brakes felt spongy, while a handful critique the A7’s steering for being overly light at low speeds.
- "The A7 drives very well, too. The supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 and eight-speed automatic make it nicely quick, and the car rides comfortably and quietly." -- Automobile Magazine
- "The A7 cruises pool-table smooth in comfort mode and stays library-quiet. Switch to dynamic and throw it in either sport or manual-shift mode, and the A7 becomes an enthusiast car with room for four adults and their golf clubs." -- AutoWeek
- "The new A7 drives better than other big Audis. The handling, and specifically the steering feel, is a major improvement over the A8 we played with last summer and the soon-to-be-launched-here-in-the-States A6." -- Motor Trend
- "The A7 is more comfort-oriented than a BMW or Porsche. To me, it drives a lot like a Mercedes coupe. The suspension is very forgiving on bumpy back roads. Acceleration is smooth and handling tight, but the car’s sportiness is understated." -- Businessweek
- "Out on the road we found the 2012 Audi A7 to be a willing and capable performer." -- Forbes
Acceleration and Power
The automotive press generally reports that the Audi A7 offers impressive power, especially for a car that competes alongside a number of cars that carry a V8 under the hood. All A7’s, however, carry a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 that puts out 310 horsepower. The V6 is mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox that most test drivers consider smooth and responsive.
The gearbox sends power to all four wheels, thanks to Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system. Under normal conditions, Quattro will send 60 percent of power to the rear wheels and 40 percent to the front. However, if the A7 loses traction, the system will redistribute power to improve grip.
Audi says that the A7 can go from zero to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, which is 0.8 seconds quicker than the BMW 535i Gran Turismo that many reviewers compare it with. Despite the speed advantage, the A7 delivers comparable fuel economy. The EPA reports that the 2012 Audi A7 gets 18 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. The BMW 535i GT, by comparison, gets 19 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.
- "The power delivery of the 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 connected to the eight-speed automatic is as smooth and seamless as it gets." -- Automobile Magazine
- "Audi dropped an eight-speed ZF transmission in the A7 and it works beautifully. Ninety percent of the time it's completely unnoticeable, but when using the paddles or the shifter to switch, it's extremely responsive." -- AutoWeek
- "Moving the A7 is a 3.0-liter supercharged engine that is simply resplendent as it doles out 310 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque, getting the 4,200-pound car from zero to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds." -- Los Angeles Times
- "The 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 is a major part of this refinement. Laden with "just" 310 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque, plus 500 pounds of sound insulation (probably), the A7's motivator gives you no indication it can run a quarter-mile as fast as a Dodge Challenger R/T. But it can." -- Motor Trend
- "The A7 matches or beats the quickness of its main competitors while leading the pack in fuel economy." -- Businessweek
- "A smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission includes Tiptronic manual-shift capability via either the gear selector or optional steering wheel-mounted paddles. It’s a bit more reactive in manual mode than with many other automatics, but we’d rather see Audi’s excellent DSG dual-clutch automated manual here instead for truly energetic operation." -- Forbes
- "It's a fun, high-revving engine that feels faster than its power rating suggests. That's thanks to the car's relatively light weight: It's almost 500 pounds lighter than a BMW 535 GT, which sports a 300-hp, turbocharged six-cylinder." -- Cars.com
Handling and Braking
Test drivers rave about the 2012 Audi A7’s road-holding ability and standard Quattro all-wheel drive. Most agree that the car drives much smaller than it actually is, although a few critics take issue with the A7’s steering, saying that it feels a little off.
MMI-equipped Premium Plus and Prestige models allow the driver to select Comfort or Dynamic modes, which alter steering and throttle feel for relaxed or spirited driving. A third mode, Automatic, allows the A7 to adjust these settings based on conditions and driver input.
A Sport package with 20-inch wheels is available, but some reviewers note that the larger wheels make the A7’s ride a little harsh over rough roads.
- "What's the most impressive part of the Audi A7 to me? It has to be how well this big car handles. It rounds corners with composure that is shocking for a car this size, with loads of grip available. Turn-in is quick, but the steering feedback available through the wheel is a little disappointing." -- AutoWeek
- "Yes, it's a bit over-boosted in dynamic mode, and downright sloppy in comfort. But dynamic mode's not bad, and the A7's steering feels just slightly better than a contemporary BMW 5 Series, though not even close to the steering perfection of the E39. Besides, the A7 goes exactly where you point it, and there's only the most subtle hint of torque steer when you get on the gas a little early at the end of a curve." -- Motor Trend
- "A structurally sound design with a sophisticated four-wheel independent suspension and an electromechanical variable-boost power steering system contributes to dynamic handling characteristics and an adequate, though not exactly butter-smooth ride." -- Forbes
- "Braking in the A7 is solid and linear - another difference between it and the BMW. New BMWs are integrating regenerative braking systems, similar to those in hybrids, for better efficiency. However, they also leave a lot to be desired when it comes to pure brake feel, and the A7 is almost as efficient as the BMW 535 GT with all-wheel drive." -- Cars.com
- "The electric-assist power steering still feels a little off to us, as in the A4 and S5. The precision and feel you get with hydraulic-assist setups isn't quite realized here. The ’Dynamic’ setting adds heft to the wheel, but doesn't actually improve the act of steering the car." -- Edmunds