You see, I've just spent a week with the 2014 Audi A7 TDI, shown here against the backdrop of sunny SoCal, even though my stint was spent slopping through this absolutely wonderful winter we've been having in Detroit. If you're one of our podcast listeners, you've already heard me wax poetic about the A7 TDI, and the more I reflect on this diesel darling, the more I firmly believe that this car absolutely, without a doubt, checks all the right boxes.
Well, almost all of them, anyway.
- I'll spare you the lovey-dovey paragraphs about the Audi A7's design. Long story short: it's gorgeous. There's nothing about the TDI model that alters the visually stunning A7. (Those decals are a press fleet special, don't worry.) I particularly love the look of this car with these larger, optional 20-inch wheels, and while white is hardly my first choice, the crisp Glacier paint is subdued enough to really let the A7's flowing lines do the talking. Beauty? Box checked, indeed.
- Obviously, the big story here is the fitment of Audi's 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V6, tuned to 240 horsepower and 428 pound-feet of torque in this application, the latter of which comes on strong at just 1,750 rpm. Running through an eight-speed automatic, and hitting the ground via Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system, this force is enough to power the 4,266-pound A7 TDI to 60 miles per hour in 5.5 seconds. That's actually quite quick, when you think about it. To wit: that's the same 0-60 time as a base Porsche Boxster.
- The way the A7 TDI applies its power is what really makes this package special – there's just a mass of torque, way down low, and with the eight-speed automatic keeping things chugging below 2,500 rpm, that twist is always readily available. That transmission is a smooth operator, and I never felt a desire to use manual mode. I cannot recall a single time when the eight-speed misbehaved or wasn't keeping things moving along with speed and efficiency.
- Which brings me to the huge box-checking point of this A7: fuel economy. Audi estimates this thing will muster up 24 miles per gallon in the city, 38 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined. Go easy on the highway, and you'll easily see numbers around 40 mpg. In fact, my average for the week bested the combined rating: I saw just over 34 mpg in a pretty even mix of driving.
- The steering is good, but not spectacular. The chassis is well-tuned, but designed for comfort above all. And as I've said the more relaxed characteristics and shift patterns of the 3.0 TDI and eight-speed transmission are a nice fit for this setup. The car is still pretty involving to drive, yet as a daily driver, there's no situation in which the A7 TDI feels too harsh or firm.
- That can also be said for the car's all-weather prowess – something I put to work during my loan of the car. Audi's Quattro all-wheel drive is just as stellar as ever, and when combined with relatively decent ground clearance and proper winter tires (Dunlop SP Winter Sport rubbers, here), the A7 proved to be unstoppable in the crummy stuff.
- Comfortable, too – the A7 interior is unchanged for the TDI, and is just as lovely as it is across the board. Audi's onboard tech is top-notch (my friends still get a huge kick out of the Google Earth navigation integration), the seats are comfortable, natural wood inlays look (and feel) great, and the cabin easily seats four adults with plenty of breathing room.
- So, where's the rub? Naturally, the bottom line. The whole A7 TDI package starts at $66,900, which isn't unreasonable, but then adding things like the Bang & Olufsen sound system, Prestige trim, Driver Assistance pack, 20-inch Sport pack (which requires adding the 19-inch Sport pack, for some reason), and more, you end up at $81,395, including $895 for destination. And that's without goodies like the ultra-cool full-LED headlamps. For comparison, the not-as-sexy BMW 535d xDrive I tested earlier this year came in at $68,725 with all the same, if not more, kit. Is that gorgeous design really worth $13,000?
- The A7 TDI is absolutely the car I'd have in the segment. There is almost nothing it cannot do. But that ability comes at a price.