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CNET On Cars: 2013 Audi S7

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CNET On Cars: 2013 Audi S7

6:43 /

One of the most honored tech cars of all time, now with hot sauce.

It was CNET's Tech Car of the Year when it first came out. Automobile Magazine named it their Favorite Car of the Year, so did Esquire Magazine for Christ's sake. What is it we all love so much about the Audi 7? Let's try this 2013 Audi S7. Find out when we check the tech. Now, what Audi really did with the 7 is combine high heeled pumps with sensible shoes. I mean, this car is gorgeous and spacious. Tough trick. And when and if they ever dramatically restyle it, I think it's gonna be a sad day. Spot an S versus a standard A7 by its unique grill and face. Quite different on the front as are the wheels. Look for lower body moldings that are body colored and also the satin finish mirrors. Now, the cabin of the S7 is particularly macho if you will. You've got this sort of vintage racer tufted diamond pleat on the seat. Here's our - screen that gives us the G-Wiz of this thing coming out and also the G-Wiz of what it presents. Audi's navigation system is one of the best out there. I like the way it presents almost everything. In terms of operating, still the same MMI interface. Four zones Here, map to 4 buttons down here around the controller. Notice on this car we've got the Google Earth services built-in. So, it's got Google Earth satellite imagery. Once you get out to, let's say, this level here, a three-quarter mile view, along with that Google Earth imagery, you've got local search to find destinations and all that's done through this little SIM card connection right here. You don't need to pair your smartphone to this guy to get connected. Now, let's talk media system on this car. Lots of choices. They start back here under the sneaky door. Alongside the SIM, you've got 2 SD card slots. I don't find that tremendously interesting. More interesting, your Bluetooth streaming for which on my android phone I'm getting good meta tag information. That's quite a win on android. Now, the one that's great out here, that would be your Audi media interface. It's live here on the console. The reason it's not connected is because, as you can see here, we've got the old-style 30-pin dock connector. Now, getting away some infotainment, the cabin tech really takes off with driver assistance tech in this car. First of all, we have adaptive cruise control, which is where you set the speed and the followed distance. But on top of that, it's got stop and go technology. If you get into stop and go traffic, the car will come to a stop. And then when traffic starts again, it will automatically resume after the radar in the front sees that happen. And the camera up here behind the mirror scans for pedestrians. First, lane assist technology on this car is active. It's the same camera which can read not just lines, but colors of lines; detects that you're drifting and your signal is not on that direction. It uses the electrohydraulic steering rack to steer you back and also give you a stick shake on the wheel if you set it at that way. That same camera also looks out there for speed limit signs and can read them and puts those on the interface of the car to let you know what the speed limit is here. Now, I'm really sad our car doesn't have the night vision with pedestrian detection and head-up display. That is something I wanna check out in the real world on these Audis. And finally, we have parking assist technology. We've seen this in a lot other cars that cost a lot less than this one example, but it will get you into a parallel parking spot as long as it is at least 31 inches longer than the car. That's actually a pretty tight spot. Now, a big part of the story on an S versus an A7 is here in the engine bay completely different power plant. Your standard A7 is a 3-liter supercharged V6. This guy has a 4-liter twin turbocharged V8 night and day, 420 horsepower versus 310, 406 foot pounds of torque versus 325, 0 to 60 is almost a second different, 45 versus 54. And that's in spite of the S7 weighing about 300 pounds more. MPG almost identical. 17.27 for the S, 18.28 for a standard 7 and completely different transmission on the S. This guy has a 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual only. The A7 has an 8-speed Tiptronic automatic, though both cars are Quattro all-wheel drive of course. Lots of ingredients in this cake. Let's see how it comes out. Now, the first thing I love about this S7 is even though it is only available with a dual-clutch automated manual, it drives almost exactly like a well-tuned automatic and that's a good thing for everyday livability. I think the blind-spot tech in this car. Big bright lights in the mirror housings that actually get my attention. They get even brighter and more frantic if I signal into someone who's on that side. And of course, you've got many ways to shift this guy to change the personality of the vehicle if you go over here to the gate and then you get on the paddles and you start to shift this thing or change the mode to one of the aggressive modes. You can really lighten this car up or put it in comfort mode and it really becomes a boat to be honest. It got almost wallowy, which is nice when you're just floating down the highway. And when you put this car into its most aggressive personality through that Audi Drive Select, everything changes. The steering, the suspension, the way the transmission deals with the engine, the way the engine holds RMPs, and even the way the exhaust sound. This is perhaps the most widely configureable car we've ever driven. All that said, I will give you, who are shopping Audi against BMW, one last thing to think about. The BMW comparable model always feels much gutsier. This car feels more elegant, more finessed. This car is Roger Moore. BMW is Sean Connery. I don't mean that as a diss. I know some people aren't digging Moore, but he did his thing his way with much more of an elegance. Connery was much more kind of a gutsy guy. That's a pretty good analogy. Let's price this technical wonder that has hot sauce splashed all over it. S7 is gonna start at 79,700. Let's call it 80 grand. Then you want the innovation package to go CNET style with 1 checkbox. 5,600 bucks brings in the lane departure technology, the blind spot tech, the night vision with pedestrian detection, adaptive with stop and go. You also get the cornering cameras. Self-park is in there. There's all kinds of goodies for what I think is kind of a steal of a price.

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