With many automakers expanding their lineups to satisfy every niche in the market, some previously thin segments have exploded with entries. One of the most notable is the four-door coupe. The Mercedes-Benz CLS-class kicked off the trend, of course, and the segment now includes stuff as varied as the Volkswagen CC and the Aston Martin Rapide. Heck, we wouldn’t call you crazy if you argued that the idea influenced the design of the latest Hyundai Sonata. The idea behind all of them: Combine sultry styling with four-door practicality, and, in some cases, hatchback versatility. The latest from Audi, this sexy A7 Sportback, is one that hits all three notes.
The A7 actually is the second recent Audi to play this tune, but it will be the only one sold in the U.S.; the 2010 A5 Sportback will remain forbidden fruit. But we don’t mind that we had to wait for such a four-ringer, as we feel the swoopy styling looks even more fantastic stretched over the A7’s longer, 114.6-inch wheelbase. You might notice that figure puts the A7 size-wise in between the latest 2011 A8 (117.8-inch wheelbase) and the current A6 (111.9), which could lead to some confusion over this car’s origins. Let’s put that to rest: The A7’s underpinnings are more closely related to the A6’s, specifically those of the next-generation A6, which is due out for 2012.
Up front, the A7 wears the latest interpretation of Audi’s trapezoidal grille, as well as the brand’s now-signature LED running lights. Two lower intakes mirror the shape of the headlight housings, but they don’t house fog lights; those are integrated into the standard xenon headlights themselves. Eighteen-bulb, full-LED headlamps like those available on the A8 and R8 5.2 are an option on the A7.
The side and rear views are the most memorable to our eyes. What Audi dubs a “tornado line” gently arches from the upper corner of the headlight, flattening out as it moves rearward to the LED-lit taillight. This sharp crease defines the A7’s shoulders, and serves as a nice complement to the graceful roofline. The power-operated hatch’s large rear backlight flows into a hidden, automatically deploying spoiler that rises above 81 mph and retracts below 50. Eighteen-, 19-, or 20-inch wheels sit below subtle flares that contribute to an overall look of understated elegance, an impression further enhanced by the fact that the car is just 55.9 inches high. For reference, the A6 is 57.4 inches tall.
Thanks to: Car and Driver