Patrick Rall's picture

2015 Audi A7 TDI Review Sleek, Spacious, Sporty and Super-Efficient

Prior to spending time in the 2015 Audi A7, I didn’t really get the allure of the European “fast back sedan” or the idea of a smallish diesel engine in a big luxury sedan, but after spending a few hundred miles, I’ve come to appreciate the fast back sedan design and the fuel sipping diesel engine – while also loving pretty much everything about the A7 TDI.
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In terms of a broad offering of different vehicles, few automakers (especially in the luxury world) have as many options as Audi and one of the more unusual cars from the German automaker is the A7 sedan. Really, it is only unusual by American standards, as the fastback sedan design has become popular with European designers with Mercedes, BMW and Audi all offering a hatchback that preserves the form of a normal four door sedan. Some folks call them 4-door coupes while others just call them hatchback sedans, but whatever you call them, I had never really gotten the point of this design. However, after spending 8 day and hundreds of miles in the Audi A7 TDI, I’ve gathered a whole new appreciation for this design. At the same time, I came to love the 3.0L turbocharged diesel engine and my experience in the 2015 A7 TDI forced me to fall in love with yet another German sedan.

2015 audi a7 side

Before getting into all of the aspects of the 2015 Audi A7 TDI, let’s address the price. For someone who has never owned a German luxury sedan, my test car’s price of $78,675 is going to raise some eyebrows, but when questioning the price, you have to keep in mind that this particular Audi was packed with just about every possible gadget that you could want. The base price of $68,300 is added onto by over $10,000 in options, including the Prestige package (which I consider a must-have), the Driver Assistance Package, the Black Optic Package (which also gets an enthusiastic thumbs-up from me) and the sport suspension option. It is a big price tag, but this is truly a state of the art, premium luxury sedan with tons of room, tons of amenities and a diesel-powered, fuel friendly all-wheel drive configuration that is fun to drive in any condition.

The 2015 Audi A7 TDI is not a bargain luxury car – this is a big boy luxury sedan with a big boy price tag, but you get what you pay for inside and out.

The Exterior
The exterior design of the 2015 Audi A7 TDI is what really allows it to stand out when compared to most other large luxury sedans. As I mentioned above, the A7 has a unique fastback hatchback design with a long rear window that stretches almost all of the way to the rear wing. From the side, this gives the four door A7 the overall silhouette of a coupe and while that long, gently sloping roofline lends itself to big benefits on the inside, it also gives the A7 to stand apart very clearly from the Audi A8.

2015 a7 front

Really, if someone who had never seen the Audi A7 asked me to describe it based on other Audi products, I would say that the A7 reminds me very much of the Audi TT – just a whole lot bigger. Where the A8 and A6 have bolder styling with more hard lines, the A7 is far curvier from front to rear. While there are a few sharp styling lines along the side, the A7 very much follows the TT design concept, with a rounded front end, a very sleek greenhouse (that of course tapers into the fastback form) and a back end that wraps around to the sides.

Up front, the large central grille is flanked down low by a set of smaller (yet still quite large) and the gorgeous LED-trimmed headlights. Audi has done a remarkable job of designing their daytime running lamps to be recognizable and, as you can see here, the super bright LED strip running along the bottom of the headlight housing creates a look that is impossible to mistake. I love these headlights and I love the sporty look of the front end as a whole, even though this isn’t technically a sport model. MY A7 test car was equipped with the Black Optics package, which adds lots of gloss black trim around the exterior and the black 20 inch wheels – all of which fit nicely on the sleek silver A7.

2015 a7 rear

I came into my test time in the 2015 Audi A7 unsure of what I would think of the fastback sedan design, but I grew to really like the overall exterior look of this unique sedan.

The Interior
The 2015 Audi A7 TDI might not pack as much power as the higher priced models, but the cabin features all of the goodies that you could want from any modern luxury sedan while the long roofline allows for gobs of passenger space front and rear.

The front seats of the Audi A7 are wrapped in leather with power controls and both heated and cooled surfaces. These seats have wide seating surfaces so they are uber comfortable for a long trip or your daily drive to work, but the side and base bolsters are prominent enough to keep the driver and front passenger securely in place during stints of hard cornering. These front seats allow for a wide range of adjustments, making the A7 a car that can accommodate drivers very small and very tall. Even if the driver and front passenger are very tall, they should find plenty of leg, knee, elbow, shoulder and head space. Thanks to the elongated roofline, there is a ton of rear seating space as well, providing very tall passengers with a combination of leg room and head room that can be hard to find. The back seats are flatter than the front seats, but they are every bit as comfortable as the front seats so the folks sitting out back don’t have to compromise at all. Also, for someone who has three kids, this back seat has enough space for three kids or three fairly friendly adults.

a7 tdi front seats

Next up, we have the ultra-high tech goodies that line the dash of the 2015 Audi A7 TDI. The incredible high end infotainment system is one of the best I’ve used, with a flip-up screen mounted high on the dash working with the steering wheel controls and the collection of buttons and knobs located on the center console right at the end of the armrest. With your elbow on the center armrest, the controls for this infotainment interface are right at your fingertips, with a rotary knob and a handful of buttons allowing you to toggle from page to page, making selections without taking your eyes off of the road.

The climate control system has works with the infotainment screen as well, but the heating/air condition system brings up a quick menu on the infotainment screen as you change modes, fan speed, etc. There is also a “Car” button that brings up the selectable drive mode system, along with 6 buttons for radio presets, a simple volume knob and the start/stop engine button. The sound system works with the heads up display and the steering wheel, allowing you to flip through radio stations and satellite stations with ease. Unlike many systems that will only let you flip through your presets, the Audi system allows you to scroll through every station – which was a great feature for my long highway trip.

a7 tdi dash

As a side note, I found the Audi A7 navigation program to be one of the more user-friendly systems I’ve tested, with accurate voice controls and the ability to make adjustments with the normal controls while on the move. While I understand why so many companies have their navigation setup so that you cannot make button adjustments while moving, the Audi system is great for when you have a passenger who can make adjustments to the nav while driving.

The Audi A7 steering wheel controls also adjust the configurable driver information center, which is tucked between the analog tachometer and speedometer. This information center displays vehicle information, sound system information and navigation details and you can flip through these screens with the steering wheel controls. The system can be a bit overwhelming at first, but once you have gotten the hang of which controls do what – this is easily one of the best driver interface systems I’ve tested.
Finally, the Audi A7 features a great camera system that lets you look across the front end of the car (for when pulling out of a road with limited visibility), across the back of the car (for backing out of a spot), straight forward, straight backwards and overhead. This system allows you to see pretty much 360 degrees around the car, which is particularly helpful in tight city traffic.

a7 rear seats

The 2015 Audi A7 TDI interior offers a ton of seating space front and rear with styling, comfortable seats while the infotainment system might just be the best I’ve used. It looks great, feels great, has every interior gadget that you can ask for and best of all, all of the components are tied into an intricate-yet-fluid control system.

The Drive
The heart of the 2015 Audi A7 TDI is, of course, the 3.0L turbocharged diesel engine. While we are seeing more and more diesel passenger vehicles in the United States, there are still plenty of people in the new car market who expect that every diesel engine rolls coal, stinks and chugs like an old tractor. The reality is that the TDI engine in the A7 doesn’t emit any more odors than does any modern gasoline engine, nor does the 3.0L V6 spew any soot at any point. Unlike some of the newer, small diesels used by other automakers that have been designed to squash any diesel engine noise, the Audi TDI in the A7 does sound like a diesel engine, but it is no louder than any other engine in the Audi line. Basically, the engine sounds a little different, but someone who didn’t know any different wouldn’t be able to pick this diesel car out in traffic so the A7 TDI doesn’t offer any of the incorrectly perceived downsides of a diesel engine.

a7 tdi engine

However, the 3.0L turbo diesel engine does offer the benefits of this technology that have made the A7’s engine so popular in Europe. This mill “only” has 240 horsepower, but it packs 428lb-ft of torque which, when combined with the paddle-shifted 8-speed automatic transmission and the advanced all-wheel drive system, offers very solid acceleration from a stop and from a roll. This engine doesn’t pack as much initial punch as some of the pricier Audi engines, but all of that torque leads to some serious pull – particularly through the midrange, where the 3.0L turbo diesel truly shines. This engine packs enough real world performance that most of my passengers asked “didn’t you say that this was a diesel?” Also, while driving this turbo diesel and shifting for optimized performance takes a bit of practice, once you have gotten a feel for the sweet spot in the powerband, the paddle shifters allow you to add to the driving excitement, particularly when blasting down a twisty valley road.

Best of all, this small diesel V6 affords the 2015 Audi A7 excellent fuel economy figures, with EPA ratings of 24mpg around town, 38mpg on the highway and 29mpg combined. I made several long highway drives (300 miles all highway) and I was able to average right around 40mpg during those trips. That strong highway fuel economy led to an average number of 31mpg, but those results are unlikely to be common unless you spend most of your time driving on the highway at the speed limit. However, for those drivers who spend lots of time on the highway – the A7 TDI offers awesome fuel economy for a vehicle of this size.

2015 a7 front road

In addition to being quick, powerful and very fuel friendly, the 2015 Audi A7 TDI offers excellent handling capabilities. Around town the steering and suspension setup allow the big A7 sedan to be surprisingly nimble, with varying feedback from the steering wheel depending on the drive mode chosen. Like many other Audi vehicles, the dynamic control system allows the driver to pick between Efficiency, Comfort, Dynamic, Auto and Individual settings, with the throttle input, the steering feel and the transmission shifts adjusting in each mode. Efficiency works to maximize fuel economy while comfort softens everything up for the smoothest ride possible. Dynamic provides the stiffest suspension, the hardest transmission shifts and the sharpest throttle response, and this was the mode that I preferred in every driving situation. Even when driving in snowy road conditions late in the winter months, the A7 handled beautifully in the snow and provided a feel that I enjoyed the most in Dynamic mode. Of course, the suspension system affords the A7 a beautifully smooth, quiet ride so while it handles well – it doesn’t compromise ride quality.

Finally, during one of my long highway trips, I had a chance to play with the driver assist gadgets of the 2015 Audi A7, including the adaptive cruise control system and the lane assist system. The A7 isnt a self-driving car, but on a 300 mile highway trip, you can basically set your speed and let the car handle everything else. When you run into traffic, you don’t need to slow down because the car does it for you and when traffic speeds up, so does the A7. Also, should you wander out of your lane, the A7 lane keep system will actually steer the car back into the middle of the lane and when driving on a long, straight highway, the car basically keeps itself centered in the lane. In other words, you don’t need to worry about the speed and you can almost let the car drive itself, so this is one great car for long road trips for a variety of reasons.

2015 a7 rear road

The 2015 Audi A7 TDI isn’t the quickest sedan in the lineup, but it is one of the most fuel friendly large luxury sedans in the US market while still offering solid performance. This car packs the powerful to easily keep up with traffic while offering a great mix of handling performance and ride quality. This is a car that I loved driving every second, even when cruising along at 60mph for hundreds of miles on the highway, but it also packs the performance to let me satisfy my need for speed.

The Final Word
If you want a big, roomy luxury sedan, Audi can answer your needs in a variety of ways, but the 2015 A7 TDI provides a unique exterior design that yields great interior space while the turbocharged diesel engine offers an impressive mix of performance and fuel economy. If performance if job one and you like the A7 design, the S7 or RS7 are probably going to be your better choice simply because those are performance oriented models with vastly more power. On the other hand, the A7 TDI is a premium luxury sedan that offers tons of fun to drive factor, but it does so in a way that preserves the comforts of daily driving with very good fuel economy for a sedan of this size – all while keeping the price much lower than the performance models. Of course, the 2015 A7 TDI comes with all of the goodies that you would expect from the Audi brand so if you like the fastback sedan look and you embrace the advantages of a turbocharged diesel engine – the 2015 A7 is definitely a car that you should drive before making your next new car purchase.

The interior is plush, high tech, comfortable and packed with every imaginable amenity. The exterior design is sleek and sexy. The turbo diesel engine is powerful and incredibly efficient. In other words, the 2015 A7 TDI is a remarkable car for someone who wants a luxury sedan that is fun to drive, capable in any condition, roomy and very fuel efficient.


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