2014 Audi A7 TDI. Click image to enlarge
Review and photos by Mark Stevenson
I have to admit, I’ve always been more of a BMW person than an Audi fan. Even Mercs with their batcrap-insane, AMG-powered torque monsters usually place ahead of the Auto Union offerings from Ingolstadt in my mind.
But, after my latest experience with one of Audi’s latest niche-fillers, I think I might be coming around in a big way.
The Audi A7 TDI is something of a marvel, truly. I rarely gush about a car, even if I really like it personally. However, I spent the entire week trying to find something wrong with the A7 TDI and was left scratching my head.
Okay, maybe this whole ‘Sportback’ body style is kind of beyond me. I’d rather have a normal sedan or wagon, preferably the latter. Yet, I can still see why someone who’s wagon averse could go for one of these four-door executive hatchbacks or four-door coupes. And – let’s face it – it’s prettier than a BMW 6 Series Grand Coupe and a helluva lot prettier than a BMW 5 Series GT or Porsche Panamera.
My own body style biases aside, the A7 TDI, tested in Technik trim with about $20,000 in options, absolutely blew my mind.
Developing only 240 hp in a car reaching into six-digits when all is said and done makes it seem like Audi has missed the boat entirely. Then you see the number next to it – 428 lb-ft of torque – and remember that’s what really pushes you against the seatback.
Momentum comes from a 3.0L TDI V6 powerplant, used in other VAG offerings in various tunes, and sends power to all four wheels through Audi’s eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. Even with a curb weight of 1,935 kg, the A7 TDI is able to make a sprint to 100 km/h in 5.7 seconds onto an electronically limited top speed of 209 km/h.
Power and torque delivery from the TDI is smooth and quiet, the turbo only heard when windows are fully down. The eight-speed automatic complements the refined diesel powerplant with equally smooth shifts. In Dynamic mode (our A7 tester has three selectable drive modes: Comfort, Auto, and Dynamic), shifts are still easy on the neck even with the accelerator mashed to the floor in anger.
Bringing everything to a stop is the job of four-wheel ventilated disc brakes measuring in at 345 mm up front and 330 mm in the rear. A brake disc-wiping feature makes sure the system operates as it should to bring you to a stop in the least distance possible.
As always, Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system transfers the torque into forward motion with ease, even in less than ideal conditions like during our test week. Traction control works as promised and gives the big car just enough understeer to make you feel safe. However, those looking to hoon it up can still turn off the safety assistance and do some intersection drifting; the diesel provides all the torque required to keep things in a controlled slide.
2014 Audi A7 TDI steering wheel, backup camera, touchscreen showing drive mode selection. Click image to enlarge
While highway cruising is definitely this Audi’s strong suit, attacking city streets is not uncomfortable, even with Halifax’s pothole overpopulation issue and the A7’s large wheels and skinny tires. The car’s five-link front and trapezoidal-link rear suspension sucks up imperfections while still providing a confidence usually reserved for cars with rock-hard spring and damping setups. Considering how well it carves corners, it’s a wonder the car rides as beautifully as it does. The 2,914 mm between the front and rear wheels might have something to do with it; the A7 would never be described as being ‘short’.
Ride and handling isn’t the only metropolitan surprise the Audi provides. With the majority of our time together spent within the confines of Halifax and Dartmouth and away from the highway, the Audi returned a very respectable 8.5 L/100 km, spot on with its Transport Canada City rating and mostly thanks to the auto-start/stop functionality of the diesel mill.