Audi has launched the next generation of their four-door Grand Touring car. The new Audi A7 highlights Audi’s new design language, with new exterior styling, new interiors and a new generation of engines and drivetrains.
The Audi A7 is built on the group’s MLBEvo platform that allows the car to incorporate the latest electronics and driver aids along with a lighter, stiffer construction.
External styling is dominated by the new sharper lines, bolder grille opening and new light signature that is provided by three types of headlights depending on the trim selected. The LED signature is unique, with a row of elements that also serve as animated turn indicators and locking signals. The tail of the car gets the tapered off look of the four-door Coupé with a swept boot that ends in the deployable spoiler. The taillights are even more dramatic than the headlights, with a horizontal sweep from fender to fender.
The interiors get a brand new treatment with a multiple layered dashboard that uses its chrome on dark plastic elements to give an impression of extra width. This combines with a cockpit like treatment of the driver’s console with its focus on the new generation of Audi’s virtual cockpit. The car also gets two additional displays on the dashboard, along with the migration to the new Touch response MMI. The larger top display is a 10.1-inch unit that is tilted towards the driver. This display shows Navigation info in addition to the infotainment modules. The lower 8.6-inch unit is used for the air-conditioner controls, comfort controls and also serves to take text input from the driver.
This expanse of displays replaces the usual MMI knob and pad with extra space now available on the tunnel that now accommodates a large storage cubbyhole. The gearshift lever is a beefier version of Audi’s current design, with the ability to serve as a wrist-rest for the driver in interaction with the lower screen. The MMI also offers voice command controls that are either processed on-board or sent to a server, with the aim of providing accuracy and speed. Expect all versions of the car sold in the region to come with MMI Navigation or MMI Navigation Plus.
There is a choice of four sound systems that extends to the Bang & Olufsen unit at the top end with its 3D surround sound offering.
In addition to looking more minimalistic and classier than anything Audi has done before, the interiors have a feeling of roominess that even extends to the rear seats.
The Audi A7 also brings in the brilliance of the multitude of driver assist systems that debuted on the A8. This currently is limited to a semi-autonomous approach to various elements of the drive experience although it is rumoured that the car is capable of a fully-autonomous drive under driver supervision.
One of the elements that will be offered is the ability to automatically find and drive into parking slots, activated by the Artificial Intelligence (AI) button. The driver can oversee the process from a smartphone based app as well, with the process requiring the button to be pressed all through the manoeuvre. This is expected to be available in 2018 along with extended features from the other two packages – City assist and Tour assist package.
The chassis of the car also gets a new approach – with a new electronic chassis program matched with dynamic all-wheel steering. The steering loads up and gets more direct as it gets turned, with increased feedback from the road. The steering ratio adapts itself from 9.5:1 to 16.5:1. The control of the rear wheels is through a spindle drive that can turn the wheels by almost five degrees. The reaction is governed by the cars speed and driving circumstances. At low speed the rear wheels turn counter to the front wheels to reduce turn circle, while at higher speeds the wheels turn in the same direction to hasten lane changes.
The car launches with a 3.0-litre V6 TFSI engine. All versions of the initial set of engines on the Audi A7 get a mild hybrid system driven by a 48V architecture in addition to an upgraded start/stop system for the engine that factors in the ability to switch off the engine at speed as long as the car is coasting, kicking back in through a belt alternator start. The mild hybrid uses the alternator along with a lithium-ion battery and reduces fuel consumption by 0.7 litres for every 100 kilometres. The system gains the intelligence to asses traffic situations and activate the engine accordingly – like at traffic stops, where it kicks back in when it senses the car ahead begin to move.
The 3.0-litre V6 TFSI engine is rated at 340hp and 500Nm of torque. It is mated to a 7-speed S Tronic unit and the car gets the new generation ‘ultra’ quattro that prioritises power delivery to the front wheels, with the rear wheels getting power only when needed. Despite this the base A7 hits 0-100 km/h in 5.3 seconds.
First units of the car will be available for sale in Germany in February 2018.