It has taken automakers years, if not decades, to make hatchbacks look alluring. Still, for every successful sedanette, such as the magnificent 1947 Cadillac Series 62, there are others that are far less attractive. A little too much mass and an oddly sloping rear can turn a hatchback into a hunchback, such as the 2019 BMW X6 or Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe — or more distantly, the 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon. It’s amazing that automakers can’t match what was easily accomplished during the Truman Administration.
Thankfully, the 2019 Audi A7 manages to avoid that, channeling the best design of the streamliners that populated the automotive world 71 years ago with Audi’s typically effortless elan. It makes one wonder why other car companies have so much trouble coming up with eye-catching designs. The striking shape of the A7’s exterior is what makes it so beguiling. Long and low, its supple shape flows uninterrupted by distracting body seams. A large grille up front and Audi’s distinctive tail lamps give it a clear identity.
The yumminess continues inside, where you’ll find one of the industry’s most advanced interiors. The center stack features two screens. The top one, a 10.1-inch touchscreen, handles Audi’s MultiMedia Interface (MMI) infotainment system and controls navigation and entertainment. Below it, an 8.6-inch touchscreen controls the climate, comfort and convenience functions, as well as any handwriting inputs. You’ll find few, if any, buttons or knobs. Instead, both screens are controlled through haptic feedback. After an on-screen button is pressed, a small vibration signals that the particular function is triggered. But that’s not all. In front of the driver is Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, an optional, and large, 12.3-inch virtual instrument cluster that can be customized to a number of different views, including one that shows the 3-D navigation screen with a Google Earth overlay. It’s striking, and more useful that you’d ever imagine. At 1920 x 720 pixels, resolution is excellent.
A Bang & Olufsen 705 watt, 16-speaker, 15-channel amplifier premium sound system is standard, and transformed the A7 into an opulent rolling concert hall. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. Inductive phone charging, and a full-color head-up display are optional.
It’s all housed in a sumptuous cabin with a standard panoramic sunroof, leather seating surfaces with contrast stitching with heated front seats, optional heated rear seats, and natural wood inlays. Sleek and opulent, it all adds luster to what is, admittedly, an extraordinarily refined driving experience.
The test car’s turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 sends 335 horsepower through Audi’s legendary Quattro all-wheel drive and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. A 48-volt hybrid-assist system helps minimizes turbo lag and assists the stop/start operation at traffic lights or when otherwise stopped to save fuel. Audi says this drive line will run 0-60 miles per hour in 5.2 seconds, although it felt quicker than that thanks to its effortless reserve of power. The car features four modes — auto, comfort, dynamic and individual — that allow the driver to tailor the car’s responsiveness. An available sport suspension on Premium Plus and Prestige models lowers the ride height by approximately 20 mm.
Regardless, you’ll find the ride to be calm and quiet, ably soaking up the rough stuff without causing undue body motions. Its supple, relaxed feel is one often lacking in its German competition and more common in an Asian car. Nevertheless, you’ll find the A7 to be as athletic and responsive for the cut and thrust of your daily commute as any German sports sedan. It’s a true grand touring machine.
If the idea of a luxury hatchback seems odd — no surprise given the ungainly attempts being marketed by others — it no longer is, as Audi first defined this segment in 2012. Today, it remains the standard benchmark for styling and handling excellence that others will try to meet or exceed.
It remains to be seen whether they will; this car is spectacularly stunning in every respect. If I had to summarize it, I’d say that the 2019 Audi A7 is A1 in its field.
Base prices: $68,000-$76,300
Engine: Turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6
Torque: 369 pound-feet
EPA fuel economy (city/highway): 22/29 miles per gallon
Wheelbase: 115.2 inches
Length: 195.6 inches
Cargo capacity: 24.9 cubic feet
Curb weight: 4,332 pounds