There are more expensive cars, and cars with more power and luxury, but if ever a car felt like a private jet, it’s the 2019 Audi A7.
After a sensational first generation, the Audi A7 begins its second generation with the 2019 model. It’s more rigid and lighter, though it’s bigger. The wheelbase has increased by 0.5 inch and the overall length by 0.8 inch, providing a boost in rear legroom of 0.8 inch.
The new A7 is also about tech, with a mild-hybrid system that powers accessories at stoplights and idle, and the evolution of the infotainment interface with digital displays and two big screens—no buttons, no more mouse-like knob to click.
The high-performance Audi S7 and RS 7 are derivatives of the A7, but they aren’t redesigned for 2019. We review them separately.
The A7 changes for 2019 mimic those in the less breathtaking A6, also beginning its second generation, and using the same new powertrain. The new engine is a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 making 340 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. That’s the same power but significantly more torque than the supercharged V-6 it replaces, resulting in more pull from a lower speed. The transmission is a beautifully engineered and well-proven 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, mated to all-wheel drive. The 8-speed traditional automatic available in last year’s A7 has been dropped.
On the outside, the 2019 A7 sports a grille that’s lower and wider. The sheetmetal of the long hood has been reshaped, the character lines have been sharpened, and the rear haunches made more muscular. New taillights are part of a design that fills the width of the rear end.
Safety-wise, the A7 gets nearly every feature known to man, including two self-parking systems (one of which uses a smartphone to park the car in a garage, for people who aren’t capable of doing it themselves), and a unique forward cross-traffic system.
The A7 comes in three models: Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige.
The 2019 A7 Premium has an 8.6-inch touchscreen, 19-inch wheels, Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, keyless ignition, heated front seats, LED headlights, and a power liftgate.
Premium Plus get a 12.3-inch gauge display, a surround-view camera system, and Bang & Olufsen sound. The Prestige adds cooling and more adjustments for the front seats, 20-inch wheels, and a head-up display. Safety features include front and rear parking sensors, forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, and blind-spot monitors.
Options include navigation with traffic and Google Earth views, and more adaptive safety features, including night vision, a surround-view camera system, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, an exit warning system that alerts occupants to oncoming cars or bicyclists, active lane control, and automatic high beams.
Performance options include a sport suspension with firmer tuning and slightly lower ride height, an air suspension paired with adaptive dampers, a sport differential, adaptive steering, and 20- or 21-inch wheels.
The fastback profile is sleek, graceful, elegant, and sexy, defining the car’s character. The 2019 lines are more chiseled than before, and it’s just shy of one inch longer. The best description of it is a four-door fastback.
The Audi soft-trapezoidal five-point grille is lower and wider, while the air intakes on either end of the grille are taller and wider. New distinctive character lines flow over the very long hood. On the sides, there are sharper sculpts under the doors and over the rear wheels.
There is an integrated rear spoiler that’s part of a line that extends across the rear and aims back at a 45-degree angle. The spoiler stays down around town, only rising at 75 mph. The LED taillights span the rear, and put on a brief dance when the car is unlocked.
The cabin has been considerably modernized, although it remains somewhat sterile, despite the luxurious feel thanks to the highest-quality materials. There is Alcantara and other leathers, open-pore wood, and polished metal trim. The fit and finish is precise. There are no fewer than 60 shades of ambient lighting.
Two new screens, canted toward the driver, dominate the center console, with a third screen available with Virtual Cockpit digital gauges. This screen is the largest, at 12.3 inches.
The two standard screens are part of the redesigned MMI Touch Response system. Gone are buttons and the familiar rotary controller that reviewers and owners first hated and later appreciated and loved. Now it’s touch controls and voice commands. The larger top screen (10.1 inches) is for navigation, music and phone; while the lower screen (8.6 inches) displays drive modes and climate settings, and accepts handwritten inputs for navigation addresses, phone numbers, and the like. The new MMI interface is fast, responds to pinch and swipe, and provides haptic feedback so users know commands have been accepted.
The front seats are comfortable, supportive, and multi-adjustable, and there’s a lot of room in front. There is good rear legroom, increased by 0.8 inches for 2019.
The fastback/hatchback shape provides more cargo space, if not more rear headroom, than a normal sedan. There’s a generous 18.9 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat, more than any sedan’s trunk; and with the rear seat folded there’s 49.1 cubic feet. That’s more than a crossover.
The all-new A7 is quick to accelerate, smooth at speed, agile around town and in the corners, and compliant and polished in its ride. The powertrain is strong and responsive, and the dynamics are sure-footed.
The switch from a supercharged to turbocharged V-6 makes sense, as it brings a giant increase in torque, from 325 to 369 pound-feet, while being at least as fuel-efficient. The new A7 maintains its 0-60 mph time of 5.3 seconds, fast enough for anyone except maybe a hardcore sports-sedan buyer.
The 7-speed dual-clutch transmission is smooth and quick to downshift for effortless passing.
The new all-wheel-drive system uses a 40/60 front/rear torque bias. This system can cut torque to the rear wheels altogether to save fuel mileage when cruising, or can send about 80 percent of the torque to wheels that have better grip, for maximum traction on snow, ice or other slippery surfaces.
The brakes on the A7 use six-piston calipers with 13.8-inch ventilated front rotors.
The standard suspension uses basic springs and shock absorbers (dampers), with a sport package having a slightly lower ride height and stiffer shocks. An available active suspension with air springs and adaptive dampers enables the A7 to glide comfortably over ruts and bumps, even with the optional 21-inch tires.
Audi also offers all-wheel steering and a sport differential, to help the A7 pivot in the corners; they’re full-on sport sedan features. The all-wheel steering varies the front steering ratio between 9.5 and 16.5:1, while turning the rear wheels up to 5 degrees opposite of the fronts at parking lot speeds to cut 3.6 feet off the turning circle. At speeds up to 37 mph, it can turn the rear wheels 2-2.5 degrees opposite the fronts, thus virtually shortening the wheelbase. Audi’s sport differential vectors torque on the rear axle, splitting and shifting power constantly to improve traction.
The 2019 Audi A7 is a magnificent piece of engineering, with striking and elegant styling. The high-tech interior is dominated by big touchscreens, but it doesn’t overwhelm anyone who’s grown accustomed to tablet screens and pinch-and-swipe gestures. Ride and handling are composed to the highest level. It’s reasonably fuel-efficient, too.
by Sam Moses, with driving impressions from TheCarConnection