by Jared Rosenholtz
The big three German luxury automakers all offer impressive mid-size automobiles. The Mercedes E63 was the first to arrive with a whopping 613 hp from a 4.0-liter V8, then BMW revealed the new M5, which has 600 hp and an advanced AWD system that can go fully RWD at the push of a button. The current Audi RS7 can still punch in this weight class with 605 hp in the Plus variant, but the A7 on which it's based is outdated compared to the E-Class and 5 Series. Luckily Audi has a new A7 which levels the playing field.
Audi has just revealed the all-new A7, and while we haven't had a look at the RS7 or even the S7, we believe that this new platform could be exactly what Audi needs to leapfrog BMW and Mercedes. It seems a bit odd that Audi decided to unveil the A7 without also showing off a new A6, but we can only assume that the two cars will have a nearly identical interior, with the A6 losing the A7's coupe-like looks. The interior is a huge step up over the previous A7. The car now uses the dual-screen configuration that was first shown in the new A8, and will also feature Audi's wonderful virtual cockpit display. In terms of interior tech, the A7 sits right up there with the 5 Series and E-Class.
The A7 even has autonomous features that let you summon it from the garage, and enables itself to drive up to a certain speed. Like the previous A7, this new model will share an engine with the smaller S4. In this case, that means a slightly detuned 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 with 340 hp. This is 5 hp more than a BMW 540i, but 56 hp less than an E43. In terms of looks, we think that the A7 trumps the BMW and the Mercedes. The long LED strip taillights remind us of the new Porsche Panamera or an AWD 911. Unfortunately, comparing the A7 to the 5 Series and E-Class is a bit of an unfair exercise.
The A6 is the true competitor to the 5 Series and the E-Class and unfortunately Audi hasn't revealed that car as of yet. The A7 is more of a rival for the CLS and 6 Series Gran Coupe, both of which have yet to be updated. Audi may have made a clever move by revealing the A7 first. These three automakers seem to be in a constant game of leapfrog when it comes to revealing new models. It seems like each time a new model is revealed, it becomes the best one on the market. We saw this when Audi first revealed the RS7, which quickly became yesterday's news when Mercedes dropped the latest E63.
Since the A6 will be the last of the three mid-size offerings to be revealed, it will likely have the best technology. Likewise, the upcoming replacement for the RS7 should put Audi ahead of the M5 and E63. We've heard rumors that the new RS7 could pack hybrid technology with around 700 hp. If Audi does follow through with a 700-hp RS7, we think that people will quickly forget the M5 and the E63. BMW has always held the advantage in driving feel and track prowess, but its new M cars have been geared more towards comfort and technology and have lost that track-focused feel. Also with cars this big, track use isn't really the number one priority.
Mercedes-AMG has never focused on track driving, but has instead focused on building insane tire-shredders with insane power. If Audi reveals an RS7 with nearly 100 hp more than the E63, plus hybrid technology, it will have defeated Mercedes in the power department. The new A7 is currently without a lot of competition. When the new CLS and 6 Series arrive this may be a different story, but for now the A7 is in a class of its own.