Aside from the looks, the Audi A7 3.0 TFSI Quattro has a lot insideBy Botchi Santos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
It’s not every day you’re given the chance to test-drive a nice, swanky, expensive 4-door coupe like Audi’s A7. And it’s even rarer when you’re given the chance to drive it again!
I called some friends and headed out to Subic Bay to experience the A7 on a mixture of highway roads, super-narrow tarmac stages of the now defunct Subic Rally and check out the US Navy fleet that was berthed, and enjoy some fine steaks from Meat Plus.
Previously, I have driven the A7 but it was for the most part city driving with a trip down to the upscale suburb of Alabang, its farthest destination. This time, we prepared for a sub 400-kilometer road trip and back in a single day.
First, the looks. Admittedly I wasn’t a big fan of the A7, much like I wasn’t a fan of the Porsche Panamera when it first came out. But the looks are only half of it, and being the true car nut that I am, it’s what’s underneath the swanky skin that mattered, and the overall performance, efficiency and ease of use that it can deliver that seals the deal. Second time around, though, I have to say the looks have grown on me. With the LED daytime running lights on all day, whenever we’d speed up behind slower moving cars, everyone would pull aside, stare and gawk at the very wide and very low A7, many mistaking it for the R8 exotic.
Technologically, the A7 is a tour de force indeed. The 3.0 TFSI engine can run as low as 91 RON pump gas, but delivers its best performance of 295.89 horsepower and 44 Newton-Meters of torque with 95 RON pump gas, so a shot of Petron Blaze 100 should make it happy! The V6 engine features 4 camshafts and 24-valves, and mated with gasoline direct injection to allow the high-ish compression ratio V6 to deliver its meaty and accessible powerband with the aid of a supercharger mounted in the middle of the V-formation. The T in TFSI (turbocharged fuel stratified injection, Audi-speak for forced-induced gasoline direct injection) is rather misleading as it gets unnatural aspiration with the aid of the aforementioned supercharger instead of turbochargers. All the while being Euro V-compliant.
Mated to the engine is Audi’s 7-speed S-Tronic transmission with Quattro all-wheel drive, making shifts seamless, snappy and responsive at all times. The Quattro drivetrain in fact came in handy as we found ourselves switching from sweltering heat, to heavy downpours, slick roads and some mud on the road.
An acquaintance of mine and fellow car enthusiast who hails from an exotic island in the south of France once told me that BMWs are very good around corners because they are slow on the straights, Audis can turn for sh-t so they pack huge power to go fast on the straights (his words, not mine), and Mercs can’t be bothered by either so it goes slow and looks good in the process. Well, the good news is that this Audi can turn and turn in very sharply, with the Audi Drive Select System set especially in Dynamic mode, yet retaining its core forte of high-speed cruising. I won’t say who or where or when, but let’s say 240 kph is a piece of cake with three people plus luggage on board the A7. And it speeds up so smoothly, wind and tire noise quiet enough that someone among the trio was fast asleep in the back comfortably, with his 11 EEE feet and 42-inch waist and 230-lbs-plus frame sitting cross-legged in the back. Left unattended and enjoying a lively conversation about cars in general, our driver finds himself cruising at an easy 150 kph, it’s almost a huge effort not to overspeed in the A7. And the looks part? Judging by the amount of rubber-necking and double stares we got, it’s safe to say that Audi’s designers succeeded in creating a strikingly eye-catching car.
Our test unit is covered in metallic silver, with a nice chocolate brown interior that highlights the brushed aluminum accents inside the cockpit. It’s loaded with Audi’s Multi-Media Interface, which we all agreed was the easiest to use among the competition, an excellent Bose surround-sound system, eight airbags as standard, traction and stability control, ABS-EBD brakes with brake-assist. You name it, the A7’s got it. Optional extras include a Bang & Olufsen surround sound system, and 20-inch wheels that came fitted in our A7 wearing meaty 265/35R20 Yokohama Advan Sport tires.
And despite the licorice-thin tires, ride comfort was exceptionally good especially in Comfort mode. Parking the A7 up the curb is doable, as the suspension rises an inch with the flick of a button.
Heading back home, the A7 makes quick work of slow-moving traffic and devours the motorway miles with ease.
Arriving in Manila, the A7 registers an amazing sub-10 km/liter fuel consumption average, and a quick check of the instant consumption read-out shows that the A7 can do an easy 12 km/liter when driven sanely in seventh gear, belying its size and hefty 17.70-kg curb weight.
Audi is slowly creeping up on BMW’s overall lead worldwide, making the sales superiority of the maker from Munich unsteady, barely holding onto the lead with only 2,110 units as of August 2012. With cars like Audi’s magnificent A7 (we’re all proper fans of it now), the A1 super-mini and the Q3 and Q5 crossover SUVs making their appearance in the local market, it won’t be long until the four rings from Ingolstadt claims the top spot.
Short URL: http://business.inquirer.net/?p=86236