Audi pulls a straight with the A7

Audi unveiled its new A7 Sportback model, a luxury car equivalent to its A8 model.

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
2 min read
Audi A7
The A7 uses a fastback design, giving it more cargo area than an A8. Audi

Audi A7 Sportback (photos)

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The way Audi has been assiduously filling gaps in its model lineup, you would think the company was playing poker. After the A4, A6, and A8, Audi came up with the A3 and A5. The A7 bridges that final gap, making a straight.

Instead of occupying a medium space between the A6 and A8 models, the new A7 is closely related to the A8 in luxury, size, and technology. But unlike the A8, the A7 uses a fastback design, allowing for a rear hatch covering a cargo area. The fastback gives the roofline a coupe-like shape.

Audi announced four engines for the new A7, all V-6es, with two diesel and two gasoline, although we don't know which engines will be offered in the U.S. Horsepower ranges from 204 to 300.

A low-end version will use front-wheel-drive and a standard automatic transmission, but the sporty choice gets Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system and dual clutch gearbox.

Audi A7 interior
The A7 gets cabin tech similar to that found in the A8. Audi

The A7 will feature a variety of new technologies, the most interesting being a GPS system that feeds data about the road ahead to the headlights, transmission, and cruise control. The adaptive headlights, which can be had as LEDs, will use that data to better illuminate the road, changing angle depending on the nature of upcoming turns. Likewise, the transmission could downshift early if it knows a hill is coming up.

Similar to what we saw in the new A8, the A7 will get a touch pad on the console that lets the driver trace letters. This input device makes it easy to enter destinations into the navigation system. There is also a head-up display, a new feature for Audi.

We've seen very rich 3D maps in recent Audi models, and we can expect this trend to continue with the A7's standard navigation system. This system will use a data connection to download useful information about destinations and map points.

A top audio system from Bang & Olufsen will be available for the A7. It comes with 15 speakers and 1,300 watts of amplification.

Audi also brings in a parking assist feature for the A7, which handles the steering during parallel parking.

Deliveries start this fall in Europe, with a quoted price of 51,650 euros ($67,135).