Story: Will Sabel Courtney
It’s entirely common for car enthusiasts to have a second car they drive on weekends. Usually, it’s some sort of less-than-practical two-seat sports car. It’s often a couple years old, but almost always well-maintained and extremely well-loved.
But what about the car you have to drive the other five days a week? Those unsung automotive heroes who have to handle the daily grind, who deal with traffic and commuting and hauling friends and family around? The cars who you expect to deal with your day-to-day crap without complaint? Surely they deserve some love. And surely there’s no reason they can’t be entertaining, too.
So I submit to you, ladies and gentlemen of the Internet, the ideal weekday car for the man (or woman) who already has something fun in the garage to drive when he or she isn’t working: the Audi A7.
While it shares pretty much everything beneath the skin with the A6, the A7 ditches the Fry meme-worthy styling of Audi’s sedan family in favor of a shape that looks like it was carved out of granite by fifty thousand years of westerly winds. Except for the I’ll-kick-your-ass-then-wipe-my-bloody-hands-on-your-girlfriend’s-blouse aggressive R8, the A7 benefits from the most aggressive countenance in the Audi family; it still looks like it might kick your ass, but it’ll at least be nice enough to stop before you end up comatose.
The A7’s shapely posterior, however, is where it really sets itself apart from other four-door Audis. The usual three-box lines have been smudged together into a sleek fastback hatch sure to make most car nuts remember Frank Bullitt’s Ford Mustang. Of course, that’s partly because just about anything green, in San Francisco, made by Ford or equipped with a fastback reminds us of Frank Bullitt’s Mustang, but still, there’s a resemblance.
Like all of today’s Audis, the A7’s interior is a Jobsian triumph, the night-perfect blending of design, simplicity and ease of use. If there’s a flaw, it’s that it looks almost identical to the A6—which has a perfectly nice interior, but if you’re dropping the extra $9,000 over the conventional midsize sedan option for the A7’s extra style, it’s understandable that you might want a little more differentiation inside.
Once you’re on the road, however, such minor quibbles fade from perception like potholes under the car’s supple suspension. This may be the smoothest-riding car your humble author has driven since the last S-Class to grace these offices. Normally, piloting a press car up and down Manhattan’s Book Of Eli roads elicits at least one moment where one corner of the car drops into a pothole hard enough to elicit a bang!, a wince and a “Damnit!” (in that order), but the A7 took lumps in the road that had me pre-gritting my teeth with nary a moment of discomfort.
Be sure to move the Audi drive select controller’s steering setting to “Sport,” for the record; left to its own devices, the steering feels lighter than Mary Kate Olson after a stomach flu. Sport mode makes it more tolerable, but it’s still on the lighter end of the spectrum when you’re playing around with the car.
If you’re looking for manual engagement from the drivetrain, your options are slim: the steering wheel is unfortunately paddle-less (unless you tack on another $1,500 for the sport package, which our tester lacked), so you’re stuck bumping the shift lever forwards or back. Better to click the transmission into sport and leave the car to decide which of the eight gears best suits your leaden foot at any given moment.
But then again, this is a five-day-a-week car, not a car destined to fulfill all your needs and desires in one monocoque. On the open road, where the A7 shines, the steering is just fine. In fact, once you’re on the highway, everything settles down into a quiet perfection. That is, until you look down at the speedometer and realize you’ve managed to somehow wander all the way up to 85 miles per hour in a 55 zone. Between the A7’s quiet interior, supple suspension, torque-laden powerplant and upshift-happy eight-speed, this may be the easiest car on the planet to accidentally drive fast. As long as you keep an eye on the speedo, though, the Audi A7 is all but guaranteed to make the workweek seem much more sweet.
2012 Audi A7 Prestige:
Power: 310hp, 325 lb.-ft.
Engine: 3.0L supercharged V6
Drivetrain: All-wheel-drive, eight-speed automatic
0-60: 5.4 seconds
Top Speed: 130 mph
Weight: 4,210 lbs.
Power-to-Weight: 13.58 lbs./hp