Audi A7 scores as most connected car

CNET Car Tech reviews the 2012 Audi A7, and finds a car with excellent data connections.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
2012 Audi A7
Wayne Cunningham/CNET

We heard Audi was using Google Earth for the navigation systems in its cars, but it was a completely different experience driving down the road, seeing satellite imagery of our surroundings flow by on the 2012 A7's LCD. Through the streets of San Francisco, we suddenly became aware of what the rooftops of buildings we had passed a million times looked like. Parked by the bay, we weren't just looking at a cartoony representation of the coastline, but photos of actual boats in a marina.

And the maps were just the beginning. The T-Mobile data pipe into the car also brought in gas prices, weather, and news. But the coolest data feed was a list of nearby landmarks, complete with Wikipedia descriptions and photos. We wanted to take the A7 on a month-long road trip, using its nav system to find all manner of notable places.

The A7 also proved to be a well-rounded tech car, not only featuring completely new cabin electronics, but also a power train using all the latest fuel-saving technologies, without sacrificing power. It seems like too big of a car for a 3-liter V-6, but a supercharger and direct injection give it thrilling acceleration, and Quattro all-wheel-drive makes for competitive handling.

The Audi A7 sets a new bar for car technology and pioneers ground that other cars must soon follow.

Read our review of the 2012 Audi A7.