The 3.0-liter V-6 launches the A7 from 0-62 mph in a tidy 5.3 seconds and supplies refined thrust from a stop, as well as willing passing punch. And that’s just the A7. We haven’t even seen the S7 or RS 7 yet, but they're coming.
The engine works well with Audi’s 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, shifting quickly and smoothly, even though the dual-clutch is older technology in a car brimming with the latest features.
The twisty coastal roads show that the A7's handling is controlled and responsive like a grand tourer should be. Suspension and platform technology play important roles here. The concept of the Audi aluminum spaceframe is gone, replaced by a spaceframe that employs a mix of various steels, plus aluminum to use stronger materials in the right areas. As a result, the A7’s structure is sturdier, safer, and lighter. Torsional rigidity improves by 10 percent, lateral rigidity is up 30 percent, and total weight is down by about 240 pounds in the European model.
The 2019 Audi A7 isn't due for release in the U.S. until the fourth quarter, so the equipment list isn't set yet. We do know the base suspension will consist of steel springs and fixed dampers. A stiffer sport version with a 0.4-inch lower ride height may be offered as well. At the top of the lineup will be an air spring suspension with adaptive dampers. All the cars I'm driving have the air suspension, which teams with those adaptive dampers to make the A7 glide comfortably over ruts and bumps, even with the available 21-inch tires.
With any suspension, Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive will be standard. This system is set to run with a standard 40/60 front/rear torque bias and it can funnel about 80 percent of the torque to either axle depending on where the grip is.
U.S. buyers will almost certainly be able to opt for Audi's sport differential, which vectors torque on the rear axle to help the car rotate. And if Audi’s product planners don’t feel the A7 will interfere with future S7 sales, they may also offer the Dynamic All-wheel Steering system that varies the front steering ratio between 9.5 and 16.5:1 and adds a rear-axle steering system that can turn the rear wheels up to 5 degrees opposite of the fronts at parking lot speeds. The rear steering cuts 3.6 feet off the turning circle and turns the rear wheels 2-2.5 degrees opposite the fronts at speeds up to 37 mph to virtually shorten the wheelbase in corners. Let's hope both of these systems are offered, so we can create our own semi-rich man’s S7s by adding them.
The cars I'm driving have the Dynamic All-wheel Steering system as well. I feel no strange transitions between steering ratios when increasing or decreasing speed, and the rear-axle steering makes this big car feel smaller than it is through tight corners. It's one hell of a way to enjoy the twisty coastal roads under the blue sky at the bottom of The Dark Continent.
Audi has made sure the A7 can handle this type of abuse, too, outfitting it with healthy brakes. As I attack the corners, I give them a workout, clamping down with six-piston calipers on 13.8-inch ventilated front rotors and never experiencing a soft pedal. Again, this is just the A7. The S7 and RS 7 will get more robust equipment.