2014 Audi A7 TDI

2014 Audi A7 TDI Review

Why, again, are commuters buying hybrids?

By: Andrew Krok

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: September 3rd, 2014

If you spend more time on the highway than you do in the city, diesel cars provide much better gas mileage than a similarly-equipped hybrid. The reason is thus: At highway speeds, the hybrid's electric motor isn't capable of maintaining vehicle speed by itself, and so it relies heavily (if not entirely) upon the typically small gas engine. When that happens, economy suffers, which is why most serious hybrids have city mileage numbers that exceed their emm-pee-gees on the highway. Not so for diesels; while diesels have lower city numbers, they're often capable of great highway mileage.

That's what's happening with the A7 TDI. It's neither small nor light, yet it achieves 38 mpg on the highway. It also has 428 lb-ft of torque, because Volkswagen AG's TDI engines have some prodigious torque figures, which keeps driving plenty of fun - even when you're consciously striving to achieve maximum thriftiness. If you aren't doing a whole ton of city driving, the TDI is a much better buy; and, if you have the $70,000 or so that it will cost to enter this party, the A7 TDI is a hard act to beat.

  • Interior

    Like its non-swoopy-roofed brother, the A6, the A7 has a very pleasant interior. It's not overly plush, yet it's a very comfortable place to spend several hours at once, as your humble author did on a weekend trip to Detroit. The dual-tiered dashboard looks great, and most of the physical buttons are very sensibly laid out; after a few hours of driving, muscle memory takes over, and you won't need to distract yourself looking for certain buttons. The seats are great, providing just enough bolstering to keep you planted during hard driving, and they aren't so soft that your tookus gets numb in the middle of Indiana.

    The rear headroom is the darkest part of an otherwise bright experience inside the A7. It has about as much rear headroom as a Mercedes CLA-Class, which is to say, not much. A six-foot-tall individual will fit, but anybody taller is going to get very intimate with the headliner. However, that lack of rear headroom is made up for in storage; the A7's hatch leaves you with more than enough space for golf trips, road trips, you name it.

  • Exterior

    The Audi A7, TDI or not, is damned attractive. Our tester came with the 20-inch Sport Package (stop giggling), which gave the A7 a better stance with larger wheels and a sport suspension. It's tough to keep this car from looking aggressive, even if its motor is engineered for efficiency. Between the sharp front bumper and the gorgeous tapered rear end, the car achieves what (in your author's opinion) the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class struggles to - sprezzatura.

  • On the Road

    At most speeds, you're going to have a hard time knowing that the A7 TDI is a diesel. These aren't the clunky, noisy diesels of years gone by. The new TDI motors are smooth, quiet, and torquey. Between the 428 lb-ft of torque and the Quattro all-wheel-drive system, the TDI will push away from every stop light with authority, and there will always be enough on tap for highway passing. Again, if you're driving mostly on the highway, you're going to want to choose a diesel over a hybrid.

    One thing you won't want to choose on the A7 TDI, though, is the optional sport suspension. It's definitely on the firm side, communicating most bumps and undulations directly to the cabin. It's refreshing when you want to have some fun, but that's not all the time, and without any sort of adjustability, it's a bit much for everyday driving.

    Somehow, the A7 TDI has nailed both fun and thrift. Keep the car in Comfort, let the steering stay loose, and you've got a long-hauler that has zero problems hitting the EPA-estimated fuel economy numbers (and, in our anecdotal experience, exceeding them). Put it in Dynamic and slot the shifter into S, though, and the car practically stands there screaming, "Let's use all the torque!" It flies down streets like a bullet fired from an all-too-silent gun. Yeah, it peters out towards the 5,000-rpm redline, but down low, you can almost feel the pavement buckling under the forces at play.

  • Final Thoughts

    Be prepared for some very confused looks from Ford F-250 owners as you sit at the diesel pump. But who cares? We'll espouse the benefits of Volkswagen AG's TDI motors until the world stops turning; they're a real breath of fresh air compared to hybrids (as ironic as that sentence may be).

    If the highway is your home, there's no better way to stay comfy. Except, maybe, for the A8 TDI.

  • Specs & Price

    Engine: 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel V-6

    Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

    Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, all-wheel drive

    Power Output: 240 hp / 428 lb-ft

    Fuel Economy (mpg): 24 city / 38 highway

    Base Price: $66,900

    As Tested: $81,395 (incl. $895 destination)

    Available Features:

    Prestige Package: S-line exterior trim, four-zone climate control, LED ambient lighting, Bose sound system, front seat ventilation, power adjustable steering column, auto-dimming power-folding exterior mirrors, adaptive lighting, blind spot detection

    Driver Assistance Package: Adaptive cruise control, active lane assist, corner-view camera system, forward collision warning with braking assistance
    Cold Weather Package: Heated rear seats, heated steering wheel

    19-inch Sport Package: Sport suspension, 19-inch wheels

    Black Optic Package: 20-inch matte wheels, body-color side mirror housings, black grille

    Individual Options: Bang & Olufsen premium sound system, black cloth headliner, power soft-closing doors

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