2011 Audi A7 Preview

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After an ignominious and un-detailed early leak over the weekend, the 2011 Audi A7 was officially unveiled just over an hour ago at the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich. The photos released after the unveiling, though a bit anti-climactic, show the car off in far more detail, and we now have the official specifications of Audi's new four-door coupe as well.

Aside from mentioning the standard bi-xenon headlights, optional LED headlights, standard LED tail lights, and "all-weather light function," we'll dispense with talk of the car's styling, as it's already become a matter of heated debate--some like it, some despise this whole new crop of "bubble butt" sedan/coupe vehicles, and others pick and choose their favorites.

As for the car's specs, as expected the A7 focuses on efficiency as much as power and sporty driving behavior. The S7 and RS7 will take car of the high-performance angle.

At launch, the car will be powered by four V-6 engines; two gasoline and two diesel--in Germany, anyway. U.S. versions haven't been released yet. The base engine is the 2.8 FSI, a 2.8-liter naturally-aspirated V-6 rated at 204 horsepower. Next up the gasoline food chain is the 3.0 TFSI, a super-charged V-6 rated at 300 horsepower and 324 pound-feet of torque. The 2.8 FSI engine gets the A7 to 62 mph in 8.3 seconds, while the 3.0 TFSI does it in just 5.6 seconds. Fuel efficiency is rated at 29.4 US mpg and 28.7 US mpg respectively.

The diesels are the real show, and unfortunately we may or may not get them here. Two versions of the 3.0 TDI engine will be available: one tuned for economy and one for more power. The economy model gets a stellar 44.38 US mpg--an astonishing figure for such a large car--from its 204-horsepower output. It still manages to beat the 2.8 FSI to 62 mph, too, taking just 8.1 seconds. The less-green 3.0 TDI rates 245 horsepower and a suitably torquey 331 pound-feet, while still managing 39.2 US mpg.

Both front- and all-wheel drive models will be available, with the front-drivers sending power through a standard multitronic automatic, and the quattro units routing power through a seven-speed S tronic automatic. The quattro system in the A7 features a crown-gear center differential and torque vectoring.

Audi has also focused on extensive use of aluminum in the car to cut weight by about 20 percent versus a standard all-steel car of the same size. The reduced weight improves not only efficiency, but also handling and performance. Doors, hood, roof, and fenders are all made of aluminum. Further efficiency gains are made with the use of electro-mechanical steering, the first Audi to use such a system.

The suspension also uses plenty of aluminum, with the control arms made from the light alloy to minimize unsprung weight and cooperate with the 18- to 20-inch wheels and standard "select dynamics" adjustable suspension or optional adaptive air suspension to deliver a comfortable yet entertaining ride.

On the tech-geek side, Audi adds a new touchpad input interface for the MMI infotainment system, plus Audi's first heads-up display (HUD). WLAN hotspot functionality, a Bose standard sound system (Bang & Olufsen upgrade available), Google services, and Bluetooth connectivity are also included or available. Optional ambient lighting ups the flair factor, while Audi describes the interior quality as "crafstman's level."

Safety gets a bit geeky in the A7 as well, with Audi's pre-sense collision prediction system available to help reduce the severity of crashes, plus active lane assist to keep the car from drifting when the driver is inattentive. Parking is made easier with park assist, and the navigation system ties into the headlights, transmission, automatic transmission and stop-start functionality to optimize fuel use and other factors.

The 2011 Audi A7 goes on sale in the U.S. later this year.

[Audi]

 
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