Audi A7 Essential History
If German naming conventions have you all twisted-up, understanding the Audi A7 is simple. Think of the A7 simply as a more elegant, stylish Audi A6, incorporating most (if not all) the A6’s powertrain options and interior design. Make sense? We hope so, considering you’ve had eight model years to figure the A7 out. Launched globally in late 2010, Audi’s swoopiest four-door didn’t make it to the States until the 2012 model year, filling a Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class-sized gap in the automaker’s lineup.
First-Generation Audi A7
Initially, Audi’s ubiquitous 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 served as the only source of motivation, with 310 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque routed to the Quattro all-wheel-drive system via an eight-speed automatic transmission. Soon after, the nerd-tastic 3.0-liter turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel V-6 hit our shores, now offering 240 hp and a thick 428 lb-ft of torque through the same eight-speed automatic.
With a 0-60-mph run tested somewhere in the low five-second range and a top speed of 155 mph, the bog-standard A7 was hardly a slug, but the later S7 added an extra dollop of speed and performance onto the platform. As the A7 is to the A6, the S7 is essentially a rebodied S6 of the same generation, incorporating the S6’s excellent 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 and slick seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. A total of 420 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque are on tap, returning a 0-60-mph run in 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph. Model year 2016 saw updates across the board, with the A7 upgraded to 333 hp and the S7 to 450 hp. Along with extra power, the S7 also added upgraded suspension, brakes, tires, wheels, and interior components over the regular A7.
Still not enough? The mighty RS7 is one of the most potent of all Audi four-doors, boosting the S7’s 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 to 560 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque through an eight-speed automatic transmission. The RS7’s 0-60-mph dash takes just 3.7 seconds, while upgraded brakes—and optional carbon ceramics—and revisions to both chassis and aero improve braking and handling. Finally, for the truly power-mad (and wealthy), Audi’s 2017 updates brought the debut of the RS7 Performance model, rated for 605 hp and 553 lb-ft and capable of 0-60-mph times in the low three-second range.
Second-Generation Audi A7
The second generation of A7 arrived for the 2019 model year, and landed with the newest variant of Volkswagen/Audi’s MLBevo platform, a new turbocharged V-6 engine, and a 48-volt mild hybrid system. Stick with the A7, and you’ll get a 3.0-liter that puts out 335 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque through all four wheels and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The 0-60-mph dash takes 5.2 seconds, and top speed is limited to 130 mph.
By now, you should know how this goes. The second-gen S7 wasn’t long behind the new A7, upping the ante with the 2.9-liter twin-turbo V-6 pulled from the current RS5. This means 444 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque through an eight-speed automatic, cutting the 0-60-mph sprint time to 4.5 seconds, but keeping the top speed limited to 155 mph. Scarier still is the new RS7, packing an updated 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 with 591 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque that allows for a 0-60-mph scuttle in 3.5 seconds. Not convinced? Watch this space for the inevitable arrival of a new RS7 Performance.
Audi A7 Highlights
The effortlessly handsome Audi A7 wasn’t the first fastback sedan, but it was one of the cars that established the segment alongside the groundbreaking Mercedes-Benz CLS, and the A7 remains a staple of Audi’s lineup. The A7—and subsequent high-performance variants—aren’t at the top of the Audi dogpile in either price or size, but the A7 family possesses some of the strongest aspirational pull and consumer recognition. For many, the RS7 is about as good as a modern four-door can get, both aesthetically and dynamically, and we can’t say there isn’t a kernel of truth in this. Better yet, even if you don’t make the jump to the S7 or RS7, the regular bog-standard A7 is still one of the most luxurious and beautifully packaged vehicles on sale today.
Audi A7 Buying Tips
Figuring out which member of the A7 family to buy breaks down to what you want out of your style-forward German luxury car. If you’re in the market for a reliable, trouble-free daily driver, go with a new A/S/RS7; there’s little point pumping endless dollars into a second-hand A7 unless you’re already a die-hard Audi enthusiast.
If you’re OK with driving a used S7 or RS7 as a second or third car for long distance trips or medium-distance use around town, look for a strong maintenance record. If you can’t find a good one or maybe can’t afford one of the cleaner ones, we say keep walking—this is a case of pay now or pay big later.
When you do find a nice pre-owned example, have it checked out by a local Audi dealer or independent specialist to make sure there isn’t anything insidious hiding under those sumptuous bodylines. If there are issues, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding parts, however expensive they may be; Audi still provides factory support for A7s both old and new.
Audi A7 Stories on Automobile
We’ve been fortunate enough to drive every U.S.-bound iteration of the handsome A7 family since its introduction. Check out a few of our favorites below.
- We drove the first-gen S6 and S7 back in 2012.
- An Audi RS7 Performance played the role of ultra-expensive, ultra-quick getaway vehicle when fires threatened Southern California.
- We drove the second-gen Audi A7 in South Africa for our first drive.
- Speaking of the Audi A7 and Africa, we happened to take the new A7 to Namibia soon after.
- Our first drive of the second-gen 2020 Audi RS7 proves its lost none of its violence.
Audi A7 Quick Facts
- First year of production: 2013 (U.S.)
- Original price: $60,995 (2013)
- Current price: $69,995
- One of the most handsome sedans ever built
- S7 and RS7 are brutally quick ultra-luxe sleds
- No matter the version, the A7 family excels
Audi A7 FAQ
You have questions about the Audi A7. Automobile has answers. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the Audi A7.
Is the Audi A7 a good car?
While the answer depends on what you intend to use it for, we’d say the A7 family is, overall, one of the better four-door sedans you can buy today.
How fast is an Audi A7?
If we’re talking 0-60-mph times, the current A7 handles that in 5.2 seconds. For top speed, expect to hit the limiter at 130 mph.
What is the horsepower of an Audi A7?
The 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 in the current Audi A7 puts out 335 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque.
2020 Audi A7 Sportback Specifications
|ENGINE||3.0L turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6/335 hp @ 5,000-6,400 rpm, 369 lb-ft @ 1,370-4,500 rpm|
|TRANSMISSION||7-speed dual-clutch automatic|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD hatchback|
|EPA MILEAGE||22/29 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||195.6 x 75.1 x 56.0 in|
|0-60 MPH||5.2 sec|
|TOP SPEED||130 mph|