Click above for high-res gallery of Audi A7 spy shots

Spy photographers have caught the upcoming 2010/11 Audi A7 out testing in Germany, and while the car cover makes it look like Charlie Brown dressed as a ghost for Halloween, we think the pics are still important considering how significant this vehicle will be for the brand from Ingolstadt. We can see the smooth profile, sloping roofline and short rear deck of the A7 that are trademark styling cues of so-called "four-door coupes". This will place the A7 in direct competition with the Mercedes-Benz CLS, BMW's upcoming 8 series and even the next Jag XJ, according to Automotive News. Some of Audi's internal documents concerning the A7 have been leaked and reveal the automaker's big plans for this car that will borrow its aluminum spaceframe from the next-gen A6. In addition to the "four-door coupe" model, Audi is also planning a four-door soft-top convertible! As if that weren't enough, expect an S7, RS7 and hybrid model, as well. The RS7 model will reportedly use the RS6's twin-turbocharged 5.2L V10 pumping 600 horsepower to the quattro all-wheel-drive system. Audi really wants to hit 1.5 million sales by 2015 (it's currently just shy of a million sales per year), and apparently believes the A7 will be a big part of it.

Related Gallery2010/11 Audi A7 - spy shots

[Source: KGP Photography, Automotive News]


KGP Photography

Our spies caught this covered Audi A7 prototype running on a European test track, providing the first visual proof that Audi is doing more than just talking about fielding a competitor to the Mercedes CLS. The A7 follows the four-door-coupe formula, with a sloping style-over-headroom silhouette. Based on the next-generation A6 (reportedly a new lightweight aluminum architecture), the A7 is expected to slot in between the A6 and A8--just as the Benz CLS sits between the E- and S-class.

Any comment on styling specifics beyond the A7's smooth profile shape, and the combination of its long and lean greenhouse and short rear deck design, would obviously be premature given the car cover, but this is a trademark trait of Audi's annoyingly thorough focus on security with its earliest prototypes.

The A7 is expected to make its public bow in Fall 2009 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, with an on-sale date sometime early in 2010. With A7 prototypes now in motion, those expectations look to be well on their way to being fulfilled.