2014 Audi A7

With an arresting design, a lavish interior and a surprisingly practical hatchback layout, the Audi A7 four-door-coupe offers a superb balance of style and comfortable versatility. Sure-footed quattro AWD comes standard, and a newly available TDI diesel engine adds mileage of up to 38 mpg to the A7's already-impressive resume.

Underneath the skin, the A7 is essentially mechanically identical to the considerably less costly A6 midsize sedan. But unless blending in is your priority, the A7 makes a strong case for itself with inspired, almost Italianate sheetmetal that apes the sleek roofline of a sports car.

The theme continues inside, where flowing lines, metal accents and a variety of available wood trim choices - including exquisite lacquer-less "natural" ash - create a ritzy, fashion-forward environment. Some rear headroom is sacrificed in the name of the A7's dapper lines, but at least Audi has tossed the puzzling two-passenger rear setup for the latest model year in favor of a conventional bench seat that adds space for a third rear passenger.

Because of its hatchback configuration, the A7 provides easy access to its generously sized (24.5 cubic feet) cargo area.

Being a modern Audi, the A7 is equipped with MMI, or multimedia interface, which includes an eight-inch pop-up display, a five-inch information LCD display and an optional heads-up display for the windshield. The MMI also boasts an industry first: the ability to recognize driver handwriting via the touch input pad, allowing for the input of both navigation and telephone information.

The A7 comes standard with Audi connect, which offers in-car WiFi along with real-time localized weather, news and live fuel prices. When equipped with an optional navigation system, the system includes Google Earth integration - complete with panoramic views and high-resolution 3D satellite and aerial imagery.

Powertrain Options
The A7 comes with a choice of gasoline or diesel V6 motors.

The standard supercharged 3.0-liter V6 produces 310 horsepower, 325 lb-ft of torque. It's good for a zero-to-60 mph sprint of 5.4 seconds and fuel economy of 18 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.

The optional oil-burning mill is a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 unit. Though it makes a relatively modest 240 horsepower, the diesel's V8-like 408 lb-ft of torque allow it to scoot to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds - essentially as fast as the gas V6. Rated at 24 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway, the engine sets an impressive new segment standard.

Both powerplants shift through an eight-speed automatic transmission that sends power to all four wheels via Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive system.

Standard and Optional Features
The A7 can be had in Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels.

The Premium trim comes standard with leather upholstery, a sunroof, heated front seats, tri-zone automatic climate control, an AM/FM/CD/SiriusXM sound system, keyless start and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Adding the Premium Plus package will swap out the standard 18-inch wheels for 19-inch units, add Audi MMI Navigation plus with Audi MMI touch and Google Earth, Audi connect with a six-month trial period, front and rear parking sensors, advanced keyless entry a seven-inch color driver information system and an eight-inch Audi MMI screen, along with HD radio, CD changer and an MP3 jukebox.

The Prestige trim builds upon the Premium Plus by adding the S line exterior styling with new bumpers and grille, adds a Bose surround sound system,, four-zone climate control, ventilated front seats, adaptive and cornering lights, power adjustable steering column and LED ambient lighting for the interior. Newly added to Prestige models is Audi side assist, which monitors the blind spots and also keeps a lookout for fast-approaching vehicles.

The Innovation Package adds LED headlights, Audio pre sense plus, adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go, Audi side assist, head up display and Night vision assistant. For the latest model year, this package adds active lane assist and corner view, which allows the driver to see around the corner on the front or rear of the car when pulling out of parking spaces or alleyways.

The Sport Packages include either 19- or 20-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension and a three-spoke sport-themed steering wheel.

The Black Optic Package includes stygian exterior accents and 19-inch Titanium Rotor-design wheels.

The Driver Assistance Package is essentially a limited version of the Innovation package aimed exclusively as safety tech, and as such adds just Audio pre sense plus and adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go.

The final option is the Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System, which adds 15 speakers with a center channel and subwoofer, acoustic lens emerging tweets and speakers covers finished in an elegant aluminum.

Occupant Safety
A luxury car wouldn't be complete without a myriad of active and passive safety features to keep its precious occupants safe, as is the case with the A7. The A7 employs an adaptive restraint system that is integrated into the Audi pre sense safety system, which intelligently manages airbag deployment and seatbelt tensioners simultaneously in the event of a near of actual accident.

The optional Audi pre sense plus system can detect imminent collisions and autonomously apply full braking force to prevent or mitigate the severity of a crash.

Other standard safety items include front, front knee, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems and electronic brakeforce distribution.

Key Competitors
The A7's main rivals are the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class and BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe, though other competitors include the sleek Jaguar XK as well as the controversially-styled Porsche Panamera.