2015 Audi A7 / S7
The Audi A7 is perhaps the most beautiful luxury sedan available for purchase today. With its subtly arcing character line and its coupe-like side windows, it resembles classic sports cars of the 1970s. The sharply abbreviated tail provides it with an almost Italian aura: Think Maserati Khamsin. Four years into its production run, Audi has updated its look, as well as added new engines and technological highlights.
The "single-frame" grille has been rounded off at the top corners, and the headlights have adopted a new, thinner contour. There are no longer xenon headlamps on any A7/S7—every member of the lineup moves forward with LED units as standard. In Europe, one can order so-called "matrix LED" lamps, which can keep the high beams burning while sparing oncoming traffic, but, as happened with the 2015 A8, they’re forbidden from our roads by current regulations. Out back, the taillights feature new internals that ditch the helix design—which made them Audi's costliest rear lighting units—for horizontal and diagonal light bars. The A7 also gets new front and rear fascias, and the exhaust finishers are now rectangular.
All of these changes reflect styling elements of Audi's 2009 Sportback concept, which was shown ahead of the production A7 but actually created after the roadgoing design was frozen. They also address some of the A7's design flaws and inconsistencies, with the regular A7 losing what designers referred to as the "happy face" and the S-line model no longer sporting boxy and ungainly front air intakes. Unfortunately, the protruding round spheres that house the A7's radar sensors remain and continue to contrast with the rest of the large hatchback’s angular detailing.
The interior can be ordered in additional colors and wood trim; it also receives the latest MMI infotainment systems, a better night-vision system, and LTE-based connectivity services. A head-up display remains available, and we suspect the poorly integrated housing atop the dashboard will remain.
As for the engine portfolio, Audi will for the first time offer a four-banger—at least in Europe. That new entry-level engine, a 2.0-liter TFSI rated at 252 horsepower, drives the front wheels only. Above that, there is a supercharged V-6 making 333 hp and with Quattro all-wheel drive as standard. Diesel options in Europe are plentiful, including the super-efficient, 218-hp 3.0-liter TDI “Ultra” with front-wheel drive (it’s offered sans the Ultra moniker with AWD); a 272-hp 3.0-liter TDI with all-wheel drive; and a twin-turbocharged, 320-hp 3.0-liter TDI with all-wheel drive. Because of its massive torque, the twin-turbo TDI is the only A7 with a ZF-sourced eight-speed torque-converter automatic, while all other models are fitted with Audi's own seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. The S7, which also has been face-lifted, keeps its seven-speed dual-clutch ’box, but its twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 is upgraded to 450 horsepower. There is no official word yet on the mighty RS7, but we suspect it will receive most of the A7/S7 upgrades shortly, and could even receive a boost up from its current 560 horsepower.