Preview: 2011 Audi A7

The Audi A7 isn’t expected until late 2010, but production plans are already ramping up

The Audi A7 isn’t expected until late 2010, but production plans are already ramping up

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As part of its new model blitz to drive its offerings up from the current 23 cars to a total of 40, Audi is augmenting its lineup with new coupes, soft-roaders and sedans. Late last year Audi revealed the new S5 and A5 Cabrios and the Q5 SUV is already priced and safety-tested for North America. One of the next models Audi plans to bring to market is its A7 four-door coupe, which is scheduled to make its debut late next year as a 2011 model.

Production is a certainty now that Audi has decided to put millions of euros into the plant in Neckarsulm in order to make the necessary upgrades and changes to build the A7. Production will start toward the end of next year, reports Auto Motor und Sport, which means the new model is unlikely to make its way into U.S. showrooms until sometime in early 2011.

A very wide range of powertrains will be offered in the A7 and its S7 and RS7 sport-focused variants. Everything from diesel-electric hybrids to 600hp (448kW) V10s will be found under the hood of one variant or another. The hybrid drive is expected to show up first in the company’s Q5 soft-roader. A diesel-electric version is rumored, but the company may end up using a petrol engine instead.

The more ordinary A7 variants will be powered by a pair of V6s. The first, a 204hp (152kW) 2.8L engine is the base model, while the 3.0L supercharged engine making 300hp (225kW) will be the first step up. An upgrade to S7 trim will bring with it another 94hp (70kW) in the form of a 4.0L V8. The RS7’s 600hp (448kW) 5.0L twin-turbo V10 is the range-topper. The S7 and RS7 will be released two years apart, with the S7 arriving first in early 2011 and RS7 after that.

A six-speed manual gearbox and eight-speed automatic will be available in the lower-spec models, while a seven-speed dual-clutch unit is also expected to be offered in the higher-performance variants. North American models are also expected to get Audi’s quattro AWD standard, though it is not known if European market variants will have a RWD option. Audi’s new torque-vectoring system will also be part of the package.

Air suspension will replace the standard spring-based system found in other Audis. The change is designed to help the car compete with the progenitor of the four-door coupe genre, the Mercedes CLS. Sales of the car are only expected to reach the 40,000 mark, but the image boost it will offer with its high-tech features and glamorous look - especially in the soft-top variant - are important for Audi’s development as a brand.

Audi released several official sketches of its future lineup late last year, including one of the A7, and our preview fleshes that sketch out into a three-dimensional look at what could be.

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