Critics’ Notebook: 2016 Audi A7

It’s aging better than the Tesla Model S.

2016 Audi A7
Michael Frank/TheDrive.com

It wasn’t until I flew past a loping Model S on the highway that the truth became clear: The Audi A7 is a better looking car now than the Tesla sedan that mirrored its gorgeous design. Don’t forget: The A7 began way back in 2009 as the Audi Sportback Concept, under then Audi design boss Wolfgang Egger. America didn’t get the production car until 2012, the same year we got the Model S. But there’s little question which chopped-pillar sedan planted the seed.

That seed, exactly, is the opposite of the Volkswagen CC that never worked. And the reason the A7 is gorgeous and the CC is not, is simple: The Audi doesn’t have a trunk.

Michael Frank/TheDrive.com

Okay, okay, I know what you’re thinking. Does that mean this is a, oh, don’t say it, hatchback? But Americans hate hatchbacks! Sure we do. Unless they ride fifteen feet off the ground and that fifth door is cut into the ass end. Then we call it a “crossover” and can’t get enough. So maybe it’s not as fundamental an opposition as you’d like.

This particular hatchback, unlike the bulk of those freighters, is gorgeous because the back half gracefully slides from an apex at the B-pillar all the way to its spoiler. It looks fast as hell when it’s parked. And we love that.

Michael Frank/TheDrive.com

A beautiful woman turned on a swivel as I drove by her in town. A seven year-old in a supermarket parking lot likewise swung around as I cruised by. And as fantastic as it looks, the A7 is a fine drive as well. The supercharged V-6 has plenty of torque, and the eight-speed Tiptronic automated manual is nearly dual-clutch quick on downshifts. Toggling the drive mode selector to soft mode, switch the tunes (base audio: Bose, 14 speakers, 600w, plenty) to something relaxed, and the Audi becomes dripping-mercury smooth, never upsetting passengers. Who, by the way, are as comfortable in back (even six-footers) as riding shotgun.

Michael Frank/TheDrive.com

One beef, and only one: Active Lane Assist is meant to corral you between painted lines, but it’s very, very active. The A7 could use a little more feel from the wheel, and not the courtesy of constantly, incessantly correcting the driver.

Oh, right. Did I mention there’s no trunk? Yes, and that meant an errand to an upholsterer for a high-backed living room chair required no pickup truck. It fit fine in the A7, the prettiest hatchback you can buy.

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2016 Audi A7 3.0T quattro Tipotronic
PRICE (as tested): $77,725
POWERTRAIN: 3-liter V-6; 333 hp, 325 lb-ft torque; eight-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel drive
MPG: 20 city / 30 highway
Secret Weapon: Out-Tesla-ing