By Kris Hansen
I’m not exactly sure when it happened, that I’d actually care about fuel economy as much as anything when reviewing a car. In a way it’s depressing. Has age tempered my enthusiasm for the automotive form, or performance driving? I was beginning to think so, until I remembered what I was reviewing – one of the sexiest cars on the planet. We know this to be true because the A7 is one of very few cars we’ve ever taken out in public that causes people to come and look closely at it, and ask questions about it.
When Audi launched the A7, they were very open that this car is intentionally more about form than it is function. This is of course a dramatic departure for Audi, who traditionally have not sought out the high style role, preferring to offer more upright and buttoned up designs. Naturally we happen to find other Audi models to be very appealing to the eye, and models like the A5/S5, TT and R8 surely are more emotional than they are purely functional. But for a C platform 4 door sedan to arrive with such dramatic proportions, such wonderful lines, this was revolutionary for Audi.
Of course, Audi could never build a car like this that was so beautiful that it lost any semblance of function, and as a result, they utilize some neat design tricks, such as a roofline that has the appearance of a chopped and steeply raked coupe on the outside, but doesn’t reduce interior headroom much at all. The cargo area is generous, swallowing many sets of golf clubs, weekends’ worth of luggage, and more.
Truth be told, I never really found the A7 to be lacking anything, it seemed pretty much perfect. That is, until I drove this TDI version you see here. I love the A7 even more than I thought I could. Yes it is perhaps not quite as hyper as the 3.0TFSI on the top end, but oh my goodness does it ever have torque. For folks who read our A6 TDI review, I love torque, very much. High horsepower engines are fun, but who wants to wait till it gets up to max revs so you can merge safely? With the TDI there is no waiting. Stomp on the go pedal, and the car lunges ahead with the quietest fury you have ever not heard. In many ways this brutal but non dramatic acceleration is a bit sterile, but I don’t care. I love the deep growl the TDI engines produce, and I especially love the fact that you don’t have to wind the things up to get max power. I don’t care if I give up a few tenths in the 0-60, because in the real world, I find the TDI is just more pleasant to drive.
What I love most about the TDI is you get all of the smile-inducing torque, AND you get great fuel economy to go along with it. This is where the part of caring about fuel economy comes into play. Normally when I test a car, the last thing on my mind is what the economy is like. Well half the point of a diesel is economy, so I figured I should pay attention to it. Keeping in mind that our test coincided with one of the coldest and snowiest winters in recent memory, we still managed to average over 28mpg in mostly rural driving. On snow tires. And with long warmups, and lots of idling. With a ski box on the roof. In a foot of snow. Uphill both ways. You get the point. Without even trying, this car returns great economy, AND is ridiculously fun to drive.
What’s funny about that is, when was the last time you heard anyone refer to any diesel car as being fun to drive? The A7 TDI, in the case of our tester here, which had the sport tuned suspension, is truly a great handling car for one of its weight category. Add to that the instantaneous thrust from the engine and you have the makings of a car that is a blast to fling around on twisty roads.
The Audi A7 TDI proves that you can have your cake, and eat it too. Beautiful and fun to drive, with genuinely great fuel economy.