2019 Audi A7 Review
Audi has redesigned half of its sedan and sportback models for 2019, bringing out new versions of the A6, A7, and A8. Topping the lineup in terms of price and prestige, this trio evolves Audi’s design language, debuts new technologies, and introduces a standard mild-hybrid drivetrain for improved efficiency.
The 2019 Audi A7 is the sportback, based on the A6 sedan but replacing the trunk with a huge hatch and a giant cargo area. The A7 is sleek and stylish on the outside, upscale and technologically advanced on the inside, a true delight for all of your senses.
For this review, we evaluated a 2019 Audi A7 Prestige equipped with extra-cost paint, Cold Weather package, Individual Contour Seating package, Driver Assistance package, and 20-in. aluminum wheels. The total price came to $85,440, including the $995 destination charge.
What Owners Say
Before we discuss the results of our evaluation of the 2019 Audi A7, it’s helpful to understand who buys this midsize premium car and what they like most and least about it.
J.D. Power data shows that 77% of Audi A7 buyers are men, in alignment with the segment average of 78%. The Audi buyers are younger, though, with a median age of 59.5 years (vs. 62). They also enjoy a more robust median annual household income at $325,000 (vs. $212,099).
Most Audi A7 buyers identify themselves as performance buyers (67%), with the second most common psychographic group working utilitarians (22%). At the segment level, the percentages are 53% and 8%, respectively.
In comparison to all midsize premium car buyers, A7 purchasers are less concerned with reliability, quality, maintenance costs, and fuel economy. J.D. Power finds that 86% agree that reliability is a first consideration when choosing a new vehicle (vs. 91%); 92% agree that quality of workmanship is a first consideration (vs. 97%); 70% agree that they avoid vehicles with high maintenance costs (vs. 74%); and 14% agree that fuel economy is a first consideration (vs. 33%).
Furthermore, Audi A7 buyers are not interested in paying extra for safety and environmental features. Just 28% agree that they’ll spend more to get a vehicle that is environmentally friendly (vs. 50%), while 86% agree they’ll pay extra to get the latest safety features (vs. 90%).
What do Audi A7 buyers value? Style and performance. The data shows that 61% of A7 buyers strongly agree that they like a vehicle that stands out from the crowd (vs. 47%), and 76% strongly agree that they like a vehicle that offers responsive handling and powerful acceleration. After all, just 14% of A7 buyers agree that a vehicle is just a way of getting from place to place (vs. 20%).
Buyers say their favorite things about the A7 are (in descending order) the engine/transmission, exterior styling, seats, driving dynamics, and interior design. Buyers indicate their least favorite things about the A7 are (in descending order) the visibility and safety, storage and space, climate control system, infotainment system, and fuel economy.
What Our Expert Says
In the sections that follow, our expert provides his own assessment of how the 2019 Audi A7 performs in each of the 10 categories that comprise the J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study.SM
If you think the new A7 looks like the old A7, you’re right. Examine the car closely, though, and you’ll spot a wider grille, sharpened edges, and refined proportions. My A7 Prestige looked sensational in Triton Blue paint with optional 20-in. wheels. People seeking a sportier appearance can select the S-line package with 21-in. wheels.
Slip into the A7’s cabin and you’re immersed in a symphony of sight, sound, and scent. Everything looks and feels rich, the layered dashboard housing high-tech instrumentation and controls. If you know how to use a smartphone, you’ll figure out the Multi-Media Interface (MMI) in no time.
My test car had Pearl Beige premium leather, Pearl Beige interior panels, and Pearl Beige carpets and mats. If you live where the weather is frightful instead of delightful, I’d advise against the Pearl Beige flooring in favor of the Granite color that Audi also offers in conjunction with Pearl Beige leather. The Pearl Beige flooring shows every last speck and stain of whatever might be on the bottom of your shoes.
The redesigned A7 seats five people, but remains best for four. And the shorter the folks riding in the back seat are, the happier they’re likely to be.
My test car included the Individual Contour Seating package. It adds premium leather for the seats, leather-wrap for various interior surfaces, and special wood trim. But the reason to get it is for the upgraded seats with a wider range of adjustment, ventilation in addition to the standard heating, and a massage system with multiple programs.
Climate Control System
Prestige trim includes a 4-zone automatic climate control system in the A7, ensuring optimum comfort levels for everyone.
Front and rear, the controls are digital, rendered on a touch-screen display with haptic feedback to confirm selections. Up front, the driver can also use natural-language voice controls to adjust cabin temperature.
During an unseasonably cool but sunny week in Southern California, the system had no trouble making my family warmer or cooler as each person desired.
Audi’s new MMI technology looks daunting at first, but is one of the best digital control panels I’ve used to date. Fast, responsive, and offering a variety of interaction methods, if you’re comfortable using a smartphone or tablet computer, you’ll quickly acclimate to the dual-screen system.
The lower screen includes climate controls, shortcut buttons, and a handwriting-recognition system that sets new standards for such technology. The upper screen handles the main infotainment menus and vehicle settings.
Using your fingertips, you can swipe, scroll, pinch to zoom, spread to expand, slide to adjust, and push virtual buttons that provide haptic feedback to indicate success. You can also use natural-voice commands to make adjustments, or the controls on the steering wheel. A volume knob resides on the center console.
Audi Virtual Cockpit is a perfect companion for the new MMI. Standard with Premium Plus and Prestige trim, this digital instrumentation panel allows a driver to emphasize traditional gauges or to shrink them in favor of data panels. The navigation system’s Google Earth imagery looks especially impressive, yet another example of how the A7 seems like money well spent.
My test car also had the mid-level Bang & Olufsen sound system, and it sounded fantastic. You can spend almost $5,000 on an even better one, but unless you are a true audiophile I don’t think that’s necessary.
Storage and Space
Storage space in the A7 is pitiful. Cargo space is laudable.
Up front, aside from a set of cupholders and the lower door panel bins, there simply isn’t any practical space to store anything. Even the shallow center console tray is useless for anything other than a smartphone sitting in the wireless charger. You can use the large glove box—if you can reach it from the driver’s seat.
Owing to its design, the Audi A7 is adept at carrying luggage. Behind the rear seat the car offers 24.7 cu. ft. of cargo space. A 40/20/40 split-folding rear seat adds maximum utility, and while Audi doesn’t provide an official volume number with the back seat folded down, it certainly must measure about 50 cu. ft.
Visibility and Safety
Thin windshield pillars and wide side mirrors make it easy to see out of the Audi A7. Driving aids, like the standard parking-assist sensors and available Virtual 360 surround-view camera system, help when maneuvering the A7.
Audi Side Assist is optional with Premium trim and standard on other A7s. It’s excellent, with large orange lights on the inner side mirror housing that softly glow when a vehicle is in the A7’s blind spot. Signal a lane change and they flash brightly to indicate danger. If you try to change lanes anyway, the steering will resist input to suggest once again that making the move is a bad idea.
What I love about this design is that you can easily see the warnings in your peripheral vision, without looking away from the road. Other car companies take note: this is how blind-spot monitoring is done.
The A7 offers a long list of additional driver-assistance and collision-avoidance technologies. Some are common, like adaptive cruise control with forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking. Others are unusual, such as Intersection Assist, Turn Assist, and Emergency Assist.
I sampled as many of the A7’s advanced driving-assistance systems (ADAS) as I could, in a variety of situations. They’re not faultless. On one occasion the car momentarily slammed on its own brakes for no good reason, and on another in stop-and-go traffic it was clear the Traffic Jam Assist wasn’t going to bring the car to a stop so I jammed my foot on the brake pedal to keep from embedding expensive Singleframe grille bits into the rear bumper of an old Toyota Corolla.
This represents the best of Audi’s ADAS to date. It’s going to be a while before self-driving cars are ready to rock.
For the 2019 model year, the standard and only engine for the A7 is a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 making 335 horsepower between 5,000 rpm and 6,400 rpm, and 369 lb.-ft. of torque between 1,370 rpm and 4,500 rpm. A 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission with Normal and Sport modes delivers the power to a Quattro Ultra all-wheel-drive (AWD) system.
Quattro Ultra is a new version of Audi’s AWD technology. It features driveline disconnect, which means the car operates as a front-drive vehicle unless traction or performance requirements dictate the use of the rear wheels. It helps to improve fuel economy, Audi says.
Four Drive Mode Select settings are available to the driver: Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, and Individual. Choose Dynamic and put the transmission in Sport mode and Audi says the A7 will accelerate to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds. That’s a believable number.
Driving the A7 in its most aggressive settings also helps to eliminate evident but not irritating drivetrain hesitation. In Comfort or Auto mode, in normal driving situations, the driver can sense a delay as the engine restarts and the dual-clutch transmission engages, sometimes followed by a feeling that is likely the driveshaft reconnecting to send power to the rear wheels.
This slight delay and lack of refinement is the most disappointing aspect of the A7’s powertrain.
To improve fuel economy, the Audi A7 is equipped with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system using a 10-Ah lithium-ion battery and a belt alternator starter to help improve fuel economy.
Thanks to this light-electrification system, the A7’s engine shuts down earlier as the car approaches a stop, remains off for longer while you’re waiting at a traffic light or idling in traffic, and makes it possible for the car to “sail” with the engine off at speeds between 35 and 100 mph, such as when descending a hill.
Collectively, the 48-volt system’s reduction of engine load combined with these three traits is supposed to provide 25 mpg in combined driving. My test car returned 19.8 mpg.
Most of the time, I used the Normal transmission mode and Drive Mode Select’s Auto setting. However, testing day included heavier traffic than normal. And up in the mountains, well, the A7 was just a blast to drive.
If you plan to exercise an Audi A7 on a regular basis, you might wish to upgrade to the sport suspension or the adaptive damping suspension, the latter of which is paired with 4-wheel steering. The 21-in. wheels that come with the S-line package are also a good idea.
My test car had none of these extras, and exhibited excessive body motions on a writhing, undulating mountain road. Nevertheless, the A7 drove like any good German car does—with unflappable composure.
In Sport and Dynamic modes, the powertrain downright astounds with responsiveness, the Quattro Ultra AWD showing no discernable side effects of its driveline disconnect design. The steering is a little too heavy in these modes, though, so I prefer Sport and Auto.
Regardless of drivetrain settings, the car’s brakes are unfazed by hard, repeated use. The upgraded 20-in. wheels wore 255/40 all-season tires, but they proved sticky enough to slice and dice the blacktop ribboned across the Santa Monica Mountains.
In typical driving settings, the A7 is sublime. Prestige trim includes dual-pane acoustic side windows, and with the standard suspension tuning you can tune into the Bang & Olufsen audio system and tune out whatever is happening in the rush-hour traffic around you.
If you’re using the adaptive cruise control with Traffic Jam Assist, though, pay attention. It’s not infallible.
Though the Audi A7’s new mild-hybrid powertrain didn’t deliver the promised efficiency and did deliver some odd sensations when accelerating from a stop, my previous experience with a new A6 suggests that you can easily expect better fuel economy under driving conditions different from those I experienced.
If you don’t care one bit about mileage—and J.D. Power data suggests that A7 buyers don’t—know that the new A7 is a fast, surefooted, stylish, luxurious, and technologically advanced automobile ready for all seasons and, with its huge hatch and giant trunk, all reasons.