Was I experiencing a glimpse of our autonomous driving future?
Not precisely, because the pull on the steering wheel despatched the automobile on a drift towards the correct lane line, from which it additionally corrected. If I let it have its manner, I figured it will drunkenly weave backwards and forwards between the traces, then get fully thrown off by the primary severe curve or pale line paint. The A7 TDI’s radar and cameras made it dimly conscious of its environment, however true autonomy requires extra refined sensors.
Regardless of not precisely being the way forward for self-driving, the A7 has been a high-tech showcase for Audi since its launch in 2010, to not point out having a superb physique design that turned a lot copied. For 2014, the A7 provides some driver help options, however its related infotainment system is essentially the identical as earlier than.
Double down on diesel
The large change for the 2014 mannequin yr, as indicated by this A7’s TDI suffix, is the inclusion of a diesel engine possibility.
During the last decade, Audi’s dad or mum firm, the Volkswagen Group, developed drivetrain applied sciences forward of the competitors. The corporate was an early adopter of direct injection to enhance engine effectivity, put quick-shifting dual-clutch transmissions into inexpensive efficiency automobiles, and maintained a line of diesel passenger automobiles as each different automaker steered clear. Audi benefited from this work, utilizing direct-injection engines in each mannequin and providing diesel variations of the A3 and Q7.
For 2014, Audi doubles down on diesel, placing TDI, which suggests Turbocharged Direct Injection, within the A6, A7, A8, Q5, and Q7.
Like its siblings, the A7 TDI I examined was powered by a 3-liter V-6 engine, turbocharged and mated to an eight-speed automated transmission. As is typical for diesels, the horsepower, 240 within the A7 TDI, seems small given the dimensions of the engine, however torque, at 428 pound-feet, is thru the roof. That is in contrast with a extra balanced 310 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque for the gasoline-powered A7.
Given the excessive torque, you may assume the A7 TDI would shred its tires at each begin, however Audi’s throttle programming lets the ability come on easily for probably the most half, making the automobile a simple on a regular basis driver. There are some quirks to driving this diesel. Initially, should you’ve acquired F1 aspirations go for the gasoline A7, or step as much as the S7 or RS7 fashions. The diesel engine would not ship energy in a fashion appropriate for thrashing the turns.
Redline sits at 4,500rpm and, extra importantly, peak torque hits in a slim band, from 1,750 to 2,250rpm. The gasoline-engined A7 spreads its peak torque throughout a 1,600rpm energy band. In apply, the A7 TDI did not have loads of punch to energy out of a flip with. The engine was vulnerable to surge, churning out uneven acceleration after I had the throttle down. In Dynamic mode, the surging nature of the engine even made holding a gradual tempo in site visitors troublesome.
From the skin, the noise from the engine was outstanding sufficient that CNET’s storage attendant requested me if there was one thing flawed with the automobile. Nonetheless, Audi employs sufficient sound deadening to masks the engine noise within the cabin.
As with different new diesels, the A7 TDI requires a bit of additional upkeep over the gasoline model. Each 10,000 miles, it wants a refill of its AdBlue tank. The emissions system sprays the AdBlue fluid into the exhaust stream, the place it breaks down nitrogen oxide into its element components.
Given the ability supply, noise, and additional upkeep, you may be questioning why Audi would hassle with diesel in any respect. Gas economic system is the important thing right here, because the diesel drivetrain within the A7 TDI provides it an EPA-rated 24 mpg metropolis and 38 mpg freeway. Audi claims a 650-mile vary from the 19-gallon gas tank.
Throughout my time with the automobile, the white LED lights indicating gas degree turned off at a glacial tempo. On the finish of a driving course involving metropolis site visitors, 65 mph freeways, and twisty mountain highways, the automobile turned in a wholesome 30.3 mpg. Most drivers will possible common over 30 mpg.
Contributing to the town gas economic system is an idle-stop characteristic, shutting down the engine at cease lights. Though there was no disguising the noise and vibration from the engine’s stops and begins, I did not discover the characteristic hampered my driving. The engine began up readily each time I lifted my foot from the brake pedal, and the system was sensible sufficient to maintain the engine working if it was chilly out.
For people who discover the A7 TDI’s idle-stop too annoying, it may be turned off with the push of a button.
Though the A7 TDI is extra of a luxury-efficient automobile than a sport play, it did deal with very effectively. Quattro all-wheel drive comes commonplace on all A7s, and the suspension structure is conducive to flat cornering. Once I might hold the engine up in its energy band, I might really feel how Quattro helped the tires dig into the turns.
Audi’s Drive Choose characteristic let me select from Consolation, Auto, and Dynamic drive modes, or configure a customized really feel with its Particular person setting. These configurations included Dynamic settings for the engine and steering response, together with the seat belt tensioner and even adaptive cruise management.
Nonetheless, even in Dynamic mode, the steering wheel feels mild, a typical Audi attribute. A strongly boosted electrical power-steering system means the wheel turns very simply, though its precision varies considerably relying on the Drive Choose setting. At velocity, the wheel good points some heft, serving to keep a straight line on the freeway, for instance.
Not obtainable on the A7 TDI is Audi’s Sport Differential, which dynamically vectors torque throughout the rear wheels to help cornering, nor does it have an adaptive suspension. Nonetheless, I discovered the suspension tuning was a pleasant compromise between consolation and dealing with.
Having eight gears within the transmission additionally helps the automobile’s gas economic system, giving the engine extra speeds the place it could possibly stay in its candy spot. At freeway speeds, it let the engine flip at a leisurely 1,100rpm.
The transmission features a Sport mode and let me shift manually, utilizing the stick or paddles on the wheel. However even with Sport engaged, the gear adjustments felt sluggish after I tried to hit the A7 TDI’s specced 5.5-second zero-to-60 mph time. It did not snap off significantly fast adjustments after I used the paddles, both. In on a regular basis driving, nevertheless, the transmission labored with out fuss, by no means seeming to hunt for gears.
I’ve written lovingly prior to now of Audi’s cabin electronics, and the A7 TDI isn’t any slouch on this regard. It comes commonplace with the identical Google Earth-integrated navigation system as prior fashions, displaying maps in perspective or plan view. For extra traditional-minded drivers, the maps could be seen in a extra graphical format, however I like seeing precise photographic proof of the terrain via which I am passing.
Google Earth depends on a built-in information connection within the automobile, which additionally powers Google native search. I’ve used this to seek for lunch locations whereas on the go, and located it higher, and extra authorized, than making an attempt to fumble with my iPhone at 65 mph on the freeway. Once I entered any search time period within the automobile, it returned a listing of close by companies. Extra helpful could be one thing like Yelp integration, which might give you not solely native companies however rankings for eating places and the like.
The related data companies included within the A7 TDI usually are not well-known apps, however white-label climate, gas, and placement companies. One helpful new app Audi carried out confirmed me detailed parking data for garages in San Francisco, together with hours, charges, and even area availability if the ability had the infrastructure to supply that data.
Each time I set off within the A7 TDI, the infotainment system requested if I needed to ascertain a knowledge connection, which proved annoying time and time once more. That may have been extra of a press automobile downside, and I hope house owners can cast off that immediate display.
One space the place loads of automakers battle is the cabin tech interface. Audi calls its the MMI, for multimedia interface. It consists of a central dial surrounded by 4 buttons, then 4 extra buttons providing fast entry to main features equivalent to navigation, audio, and telephone. With familiarity, I’ve discovered that I do not want to take a look at the buttons to search out the correct operate or menu.
Probably the most spectacular piece of this interface is the contact pad. Though solely used for choosing radio presets, alphanumeric entry, and exploring the map, it is vitally cool expertise. As I barreled down the freeway, I used it to enter a avenue tackle, tracing the letters for a avenue title. Its capability to acknowledge my crude tracings was close to astounding.
Voice command is an alternative choice for coming into addresses, inserting telephone calls, and controlling the stereo. It confirmed some good capabilities within the A7 TDI, equivalent to letting me enter an tackle by saying the whole string directly. For choosing music, it was extra restricted, merely letting me ask for artists or albums from the onboard audio system.
This A7 TDI got here optioned up with the Bang & Olufsen audio system, consisting of 15 audio system and 1,300 watts of amplification. I actually just like the sound from this method, discovering it brings out parts of recordings that get squashed by inferior methods. Nonetheless, low-bit-rate digital recordings sound horrible, because the system reveals all the failings of compression.
Paving the way in which for a very terrible audio supply, Audi solely features a 30-pin iPhone connector for iOS integration. Once I plugged in a Lightning adapter and my iPhone 5, the sound, coming via a budget digital-analog converter in Apple’s adapter, was atrocious. I want Audi would come with a regular USB port and let me plug any iOS machine, or USB drive, instantly into the automobile. From what I have been advised, Audi merely plans on including a Lightning cable adapter that may plug into the automobile’s proprietary port.
Bluetooth works for wi-fi audio streaming, however I needed to entry my telephone to decide on music. With a bit of Web analysis, I discovered a approach to stream music over the automobile’s Wi-Fi connection from my iPhone. Android customers can obtain the Audi Music Stream app to hook up with the A7 TDI, and never solely hearken to music wirelessly over the automobile’s Wi-Fi, however choose music utilizing the automobile’s personal interface.
For no matter motive, Audi has not launched its Music Stream app for iOS within the US iTunes retailer. That app is accessible in different markets, so I created an account with the UK iTunes retailer, downloaded the free Audi Music Stream app, and put in it on my telephone. The app opens up a world of music, not simply that saved alone iPhone, however an enormous record of Web-based radio stations from everywhere in the world. Audi needs to be releasing a US model of its Music Stream app someday subsequent yr with the launch of its new A3 mannequin.
Better of many worlds
These concerned about a high-tech luxurious sedan with thrilling and sensible physique styling, and who additionally need wonderful gas economic system, ought to undoubtedly look towards the 2014 Audi A7 TDI. Based on the EPA numbers, the A7 TDI boasts 8 mpg higher, on common, than its gasoline counterpart. And for almost all of drivers, the few quirks of a diesel drivetrain will simply be accommodated. However as I identified above, these in search of an aggressive driving expertise could have higher choices within the S7 and RS7.
The motive force help options within the A7 TDI fall simply quick of the present leading edge. The automobile can hold tempo with site visitors by itself and hold weary drivers from veering off into the weeds. A number of digital camera views assist keep away from dents when parking, however there isn’t any automated parking system, nor does the A7 TDI provide the sort of steering help we noticed within the Mercedes-Benz S550.
The cabin tech options are the A7 TDI’s true glory, and Audi has proven it could possibly construct on its earlier choices, including options such because the parking storage data app. Nonetheless, Audi is presently not updating current automobiles with new options. The built-in information connection is without doubt one of the greatest I’ve seen amongst manufacturing automobiles, and Audi makes use of it to feed attention-grabbing in-dash apps. I wish to see the kinds of apps I take advantage of each day on my telephone built-in with the automobile.
|Mannequin||2014 Audi A7 TDI|
|Energy prepare||Turbocharged 3-liter V-6 diesel engine, 8-speed automated transmission|
|EPA gas economic system||24 mpg metropolis/38 mpg freeway|
|Noticed gas economic system||30.3 mpg|
|Navigation||Commonplace hard-drive-based with stay site visitors|
|Bluetooth telephone assist||Commonplace|
|Digital audio sources||Wi-Fi streaming, Web radio, onboard exhausting drive, SD card, iOS integration, USB drive, satellite tv for pc radio, HD Radio|
|Audio system||Bang & Olufsen 1,300-watt 15-speaker system|
|Driver aids||HUD, night time imaginative and prescient system, adaptive cruise management, lane departure prevention, blind-spot monitor, front-view digital camera, rearview digital camera|
|Worth as examined||$81,395|