There’s something irresistible about a grand touring car. The idea of a sexy, stylish two-door that’s also fast, comfortable and just practical enough to accommodate a couple of overnight bags for a weekend getaway is so incredibly enticing. If you don’t think of a romantic weekend getaway in a Mediterranean European country when seeing an Aston Martin or front-engine Ferrari, you need your pulse checked. However, that sort of car; a sleek, sexy GT car; is mostly absent in Audi’s lineup. That is unless you expand your mind on what counts as a GT car. If you can do so, the 2019 Audi A7 becomes an excellent four-door GT.
I recently had the chance to drive the new Audi A7 for a week, something I’d been looking forward to for a long time. As a big fan of the first-gen A7, I was shocked to see that the second-gen was even better looking. I didn’t think it was possible prior to seeing it but the new car proved me wrong. Somehow, someway, Audi has managed to make this new A7 so good looking that it makes the first-gen car boring.
More importantly than that, though, Audi changed the A7’s nature. Whereas the first-gen car was more of a sporty, stylish alternative to the A6 and especially the A8, this new Audi A7 is not that. Instead, it’s a smooth, stable and shockingly comfortable high-speed cruiser that may be one of the best GT cars I’ve driven as of late. And that was immediately recognizable behind the wheel.
Upon jumping into the Audi A7, you’re met with a surprisingly sporty driving position. The seat can be adjusted quite low, the visibility outward is surprisingly good and the steering wheel can be adjusted perfectly; not too far, not too close and right at the center of your chest. The new Touch Response MMI system is angled slightly toward the driver and the ever-so-brilliant Virtual Cockpit can display all of the info you want and none of what you don’t. So it seems sporty before you start moving.
Once on the move, though, you immediately realize that comfort has an equal share of the A7’s personality. It flows down the road like liquid mercury. Yet, it’s surprisingly agile for such a big, heavy car. Despite its impressive refinement, it can be hustled through a canyon road pretty well. It won’t be the most engaging car to do so in but it will do it with a capability that belies its mass.
What the Audi A7 is best at, though, is blasting down a highway and high speed. At triple-digit speed (not that I tested that, of course), the A7 is rock-solid and stable. Even on the standard steel coil-spring suspension, as my car didn’t have the optional adaptive air suspension, it soaks up bumps with ease and never feels out of sorts. It just glides down the road with remarkable stability and comfort, almost as if it’s riding on Maglev.
Its straight-line performance isn’t anything remarkable, though. While its 3.0 liter turbocharged V6 is punchy enough, making 335 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, it’s not especially interesting to use. Nor is it all that quick, getting from 0-60 mph in just under five seconds. However, it’s smooth enough and powerful enough to make the A7 a lovely grand tourer.
The gearbox is a standout, though. It’s a seven-speed dual-clutch unit that snaps off shifts with impressive authority, while always being smooth. Its calibration is very impressive and it has to be one of the best dual-clutch units on the market. Aside from that, though, the powertrain is the only average and is the only unremarkable thing about the A7.
All of that is typical of a grand touring car, though. The entire point of a GT is to be stylish, fast and comfortable and the A7 nails those criteria. It does it puts own spin on the GT car genre, though.
Not only does the Audi A7 have four doors, rather than the typical GT’s two, but it also has a liftback tailgate. So its entire back end opens like a hatchback’s. That makes is surprisingly practical and it can swallow up far more luggage than its looks suggest. So not only can you have a weekend getaway with your better half but you can bring kids along with you as well. That might not be what you want when you’re thinking of a weekend getaway but its back seat and extra luggage space is there when you need it.
Thankfully, the Audi A7 never sacrifices style for its practicality. It’s as svelte and slick as ever. In fact, it’s the best it’s ever looked, thanks to its impossible crisp lines and creases. Audi seems to have perfect creasing sheet metal because the lines and creases of the new A7, along with most new Audis, is stunning. Combine those crisp lines with a roofline that flows beautifully into its hatchback trunk and wide hips that give it a muscular stance and you get one of the prettiest four-door cars on the market.
It also looks modern and high-tech. Its headlights are ultra-slick, with LED light bars that do a little dance every time the car is locked or unlocked. Same goes for the rear light bar at the back. It’s all very high-tech and makes the car feel special, even when you’re just locking or unlocking it. And those little things make ownership more enjoyable.
Inside, the Audi A7 feels every bit as special, even if its design is a bit more reserved. The A7’s cabin is full of rich materials and bank vault built quality. Everything you can possibly touch feels solid and high-quality and absolutely everything feels well put together. My test car had quite a few miles on it, if I’m being honest, and there wasn’t a squeak or rattle, nor was there a single knob or bit of trim that felt used and abused. And believe me, most car journalists use and abuse test cars. So its solidity was commendable.
Are there complaints? Maybe a few minor quibbles. For instance, the steering wheel and dash were supposed to be granite grey but the color looks more like faded black. Its engine also could use some more punch. While its 3.0 liter V6 powering (the only engine option in the US) Audi A7 is a fine engine, it’s not particularly punchy or exciting. It just sort of works, which is fine but a bit of a let down in a car that costs so much. It’s a good engine in the Audi S4 and S5 but with all the extra mass and refinement, it’s a bit boring. Also, I think it’s a bit expensive, with my tester ringing in at over $80,000.
That’s especially expensive when you consider the fact that the Audi S7 starts at $83,900. And that car has 444 hp from a 2.9 liter twin-turbocharged V6, the same powertrain as the RS5. So, in my personal opinion, the S7 is the better buy.
Having said that, if straight-line speed isn’t much of a concern, the standard Audi A7 is a fantastic luxury car. Sure, it’s a bit pricey but its impressive refinement, sumptuous interior and genuinely surprising practicality all make it one of the best premium products on the market. Then you throw in its sexy styling and it’s hard to say no to the A7. Are there better cars in the same price range? Maybe but I’d argue few have the desirability of the Audi A7.