Audi has announced it will sell only electric cars by the 2026 model year. But this model year, it is already selling partially electric cars like the A7. It has both a gas-burning engine and electric motors/batteries to reduce the amount of gas being burned.
It also has something else.
What It Is
The A7 is a mid-sized luxury sport sedan that’s about the same length as Audi’s A6 sedan — the model it’s based on — but with a lower roofline and a liftgate/expansive cargo area in the rear instead of a closed off and much smaller trunk.
All versions of this Audi have partially electric drivetrains.
Prices start at $69,200 for the Premium trim, which comes standard a mild-hybrid drivetrain that cycles the gas engine off and on as you drive.
A top-of-the-line Prestige trim with the new plug-in hybrid drivetrain, which enables the A7 to travel as far as 24 miles without burning any gas at all, lists for $80,250.
All A7s come standard with Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system.
The plug-in drivetrain is the main change for 2021.
Electrification without the hassles of electrification.
Its crossover cargo capacity — without the crossover.
Its a relative bargain — relative to cross-shops like the Mercedes-Benz CLS and BMW 8 Gran Coupe.
What’s Not So Good
Electrification is expensive .
Minimal ground clearance (4.2 inches) renders standard AWD not much help in snow.
No less expensive non-hybrid option offered.
Under The Hood
The A7 offers two hybrid drivetrain options, one that plugs in and one that does not.
The standard setup is a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 paired up with a “mild hybrid” 48-volt belt-starter system that cycles the engine off as often as possible — as when coasting, decelerating or not moving — to reduce fuel consumption and decrease emissions. The system offers up 335 horsepower and 369 foot-pound of torque.
This combo can get the A7 to 60 in 5.2 seconds and rates 22 MPGs in city driving and 29 MPGs on the highway.
The A7’s optional engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, paired with a more aggressive hybrid system that can cycle the engine off — and keep it off for up to 24 miles of electric-only driving. When you run out of electric-only range, you can keep on driving, too — because the gas engine will automatically come back on and provide both propulsion and power to recharge the 14.1 kilowatt-hour battery pack as you drive.
On The Road
The A7’s standard hybrid drivetrain doesn’t “practice” combustion interruptus . Well, it does, but you will not know it because the system cycles the gas-burning V6 off and on without the obvious paint-shaker effect of the stop-start systems that are common in many new cars and meant to achieve the same thing (keep the gas engine off to reduce gas burning as well as gas emitting as often as possible) on the cheap.
And they feel it.
Because you feel it. Roll to a stop, the engine cuts off. Green light, the engine cranks back to life — after a slight but noticeable pause.
With either drivetrain, the A7 is exceptionally quiet — even relative to the current very high standard for near silence inside most cars once the doors are closed to the outside. It is not an exciting car to drive, but it is an extremely nice drive home from the office or wherever you’re headed.
At The Curb
The A7 emulates the idea Mercedes (and BMW) came up with first: making a sedan with “coupe-like” styling to give people who have to have four doors but would like to drive something that looks more like the two-doors they’d prefer to drive, if they could.
With the added practicality of a rear liftgate rather than a small trunk.
The A7 is 195.6 inches long overall and is about the same size as the Benz CLS, which is 196.4 inches long overall. But the Benz only has 11.9 cubic feet of space in its trunk while the Audi has 24.9 cubic feet underneath its rear liftgate.
But there is another, less practical difference.
The A7’s lower roofline versus the A6 is based on slopes more steeply backward to give it that sleek, coupe-like profile. This reduces available headroom in the back by about an inch (versus the A6) to 37.1 inches. It’s a small difference but one that taller passengers may notice.
All trims come standard with a sunroof, leather seats and three-zone climate control. You can add a larger secondary LCD screen and a digital instrument panel; these come standard in the Premium Plus and Prestige trims, which also get a higher performance Bang & Olufsen audio rig.
Massaging seats for the driver and front seat passenger are also available, but this option is only offered with the top-of-the-line Prestige trim.
The Bottom Line
The A7 is an electrified car without the big downsides of electric cars — except the price of electrification.
(SET IMAGE) epe070621adAP.jpg (END IMAGE) (SET CAPTION) View the Audi A7 this week. (END CAPTION)
To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com. Eric’s latest book, “Don’t Get Taken for a Ride!” is available now.
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Last Updated: Monday, Jul 05, 2021 14:14:22 -0700