This is the car that converts the Porsche Panamera from predator to prey.
Following Audi's blockbuster reveal of the technologically advanced A8 sedan, the automaker is following the next logical step in trickle down technological adoption by pulling the wraps off of the all-new A7 Sportback. Well-heeled fans of the Four Rings can rejoice at the fact that there's now an attractive four-door sports coupe (ahem, s'cuse us, that'd be a five-door coupe) that places almost as much priority on comfort as its bigger brother. Just as important the A7's technology are its new aesthetics.
If you thought the current A7 was a looker, prepare to have your eyes teased and pleased. The sleek curvaceous lines on the A7 throw a serious wrench into the argument of those who think classic cars have the best proportions. Audi's signature grille, wider and lower here than on both its predecessor and on the new A8, can be seen ready to gulp air up front while narrow headlamps convey focused fury towards the rear-view mirrors of any car unlucky enough to be in front. The body itself is a beautiful sculpture, retaining the A7 Sportback's classical silhouette while sharp lines blend with large smooth surfaces to make the sedan appear as if it were carved by a fluid force of nature-an abrupt gust of wind or a stream of flowing water for example.
Our favorite stylistic addition is the long LED strip that makes up the taillights. It ups the A7's cool factor tenfold when night comes and mimics the direction that Volkswagen AG is taking with other products like the new Porsche Cayenne or the Bugatti Chiron. With the exterior set to dazzle, designers focused on the interior-festooning it with futuristic minimalism in a way that only Audi can do. Four unifying philosophies dictated the direction of the interior's design: progressiveness, sportiness, intuitiveness, and sophistication. Leather seating surfaces and ambient lighting aid in that pursuit, but Audi has always been about technology and as such, it's filled the interior to the brim with screens.
Right in front of the driver sits a 12.3-inch color display with Audi's virtual cockpit displaying speed, revs, and navigation instructions. Audi also got rid of the MMI roundel, replacing it with an 8.6-inch touchscreen display that allows access to the climate control system, comfort adjustments, and text input. Sitting on top of that is a 10.1-inch touchscreen that houses infotainment functions. As advanced as the A7's interior is, there's no way it could be classified as a car of the current day without artificial intelligence aiding the autonomous drive functions that can do everything from summon the A7 from a garage, assist an inattentive driver in city traffic, and help a driver maneuver in such a way that they waste the least amount of fuel.
Thanks to Audi's steel and aluminum chassis, even heavy systems like the rear-axle steering and air suspension won't suck away too much extra fuel, but to appease those truly concerned about such things, Audi included a mild hybrid system to supplement the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6. It'll be included on the launch version and use a 48-volt electrical system combined with a belt alternator starter to recuperate electricity when braking and even allow the engine to shut off and coast at speeds between 34 mph and 99 mph, only restarting when power is needed. The A7 is also about performance, however, which is still present thanks to an output of 340 horsepower that rockets the four-door coupe from 0-60 mph in 5.3 seconds.
Top speed is 155 mph, but Audi plans to give owners the option to feed that quattro all-wheel drive system with other engine options including V6 and four-cylinder units-some diesel and some running on gasoline-in case more speed or fuel economy is desired. Expect a German market launch in February of 2018 with a starting price of €67,800 ($80,279) and a US launch following soon after.