The Audi A7 leaps into its second generation with an overwhelming list of new powertrains, safety features, and electronics. Yet this sedan’s beautiful style-and, thankfully, its starting price-hardly changes.
The 2019 A7, in a new Premium base trim, starts at $68,995. That’s $1680 less than the 2018 A7 in its base Premium Plus trim, and it still includes eight-way power and heated front seats, leather with contrast stitching, a power liftgate with a retractable spoiler, LED headlights, 19-inch wheels, three-zone climate control, and navigation with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A panoramic sunroof is newly standard, although Audi has dropped the Bose stereo and replaced it with an unbranded system. A new MMI Touch Response infotainment system with upper and lower touchscreens replaces much of the switchgear. Automated emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection is standard.
The 3.0-liter V-6, with 335 horsepower, is only two horses stronger than before, but it swaps the previous supercharger for a turbo, boosting torque from 325 to 369 lb-ft. A 48-volt hybrid system is also onboard to reduce the engine’s workload and shut it down for greater lengths of time, including high-speed coasting. The A7 loses a gear as it trades in the traditional eight-speed automatic for a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Finally, the A7 receives Quattro with Ultra, which replaces the center differential with two separate clutch packs at the rear axle and behind the transmission. This converts Audi’s full-time all-wheel drive into an on-demand system that can decouple the rear axle and recouple it within a quarter of a second. It’s supposed to improve fuel economy, although EPA estimates are not yet available.
The Premium Plus trim, at $73,395, picks up where the 2018 A7 Prestige left off (it’s 20 bucks more). It brings blind-spot monitoring, Audi Pre Sense Rear (which preps the car for a potential rear-end collision), and LED HD matrix headlights; for the U.S. market, their functionality has been curtailed, since our regulations do not allow the variable mix of individual light beams that lets the car shade and brighten precise areas of the road. They will still play a sweeping, coordinated light show, along with the taillights, when the car is locked or unlocked. Additionally, a 10.1-inch upper infotainment display replaces the base car’s 8.8-inch screen, and there’s a new higher-resolution version of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital instrument panel. Also onboard: wireless phone charging (which also taps certain phones into the car’s built-in antenna); 360-degree cameras (with a 3D rendering of the car as viewed from the outside); a 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo; and a trial subscription to Audi Connect Prime, which includes LTE internet, Google Earth, and other app-based services.
For $77,295, the A7 Prestige adds laser beams to its arsenal. These power the high-beams and are claimed to use 30 percent less energy than LEDs, but, again due to U.S. laws, Audi disables the spotlight functionality seen in Europe (which can project images onto the roadway, for example). The Prestige trim piles on more luxuries, including multicolor ambient lighting, cooled front seats, four-zone climate control, rear sunshades, a head-up display, soft-close doors, dual-pane window glass, and an enormously powerful Bang & Olufsen stereo with more than double the wattage of that on the Premium Plus.
Optional on the Premium Plus and Prestige are new 18-way front seats with massaging, additional leather draped across the interior, and birch wood. Semi-automated driving, including Audi’s Traffic Jam Assist, is bundled in a Driver Assistance package that is optional on all models. This includes front cross-traffic alert, automated steering that aids the driver in avoiding an obstacle, traffic-sign recognition that can show when it’s legal to make a right turn on red, and a feature to prevent doors from hitting moving cars or cyclists by keeping the doors locked for one to two seconds even if someone opens the handle inside. Prices for these options aren’t yet available. Look for the first A7 models at dealers this fall.