Audi A7 Named
2012 International Car of the Year
by Road & Travel Magazine
Audi A7 Road Test Review
by Martha Hindes
Automotive prestige sometimes comes in surprising packages. A slim, coupe line that hides the reality this is really a sedan. The ability to change one's underlying driving experience with chameleon-like ease. A glaring set of unmistakably identifiable headlamp eyes that announce, in one's rear view mirror day or night, it's best to pull aside and let a "real" car go by. Put those together in the new Audi A7 along with a wealth of its other talents, and the result should be predictable. How could any other vehicle have earned top honors as International Car of the Year for 2012? It couldn't. And didn't.
The ICOTY honors, awarded each year to the most appealing auto on the planet, are sought out for their ability to identify that soul factor in vehicles that goes beyond the stuff of mechanicals and into the realm of desire. We're sure you know the synonyms: Being smitten, love at first sight, the kind of passion one would eagerly do penance for -- all those adjectives that make us glom onto something we idolize while remaining oblivious to what else is around.
Courtney Caldwell, who founded the International Car of the Year Awards (ICOTY) that honor the passion, presence and emotional punch that new vehicles can bring couldn't agree more. As the awards' executive producer and Road & Travel Magazine Publisher, she knows how such an emotional connection can win an unmatched sense of loyalty from consumers that few products can claim.
Awards are not about power and performance,
but rather about personality, passion and personal lifestyle," said Caldwell. "People develop a real emotional connection to their car for any number of reasons some of whom even consider it a member of their family," she muses.
Bridgestone, longtime lead sponsor and supporter of the ICOTY Awards, recognizes the consumer-product relationship as critical to vehicle success.
“Bridgestone is proud to support the ICOTY awards, and applauds the efforts of Audi that like our company demonstrates a strong commitment to innovative technology,” said Michael Martini, president, Consumer OE, Bridgestone Americas. “Through the combined efforts of everyone in the auto industry, and led by automakers like those being recognized in the 2012 International Car of the Year Awards, we will continue to meet and exceed the demands of the motoring public.”
Accepting the ICOTY award for International Car of the Year was Johan de Nysschen, Audi of America president. Add AUDI SPOKESPERSON HERE with quote: ...XXXX of XXXX was all smiles when learning of the honor from Caldwell, to be presented to Audi at Detroit's North American International Auto Show on Monday.
And does the A7 deserve it! This is a deliciously designed luxury sports sedan with all the DNA of a well-bred champion. Looks are a high point. It's taut and edgy, with a sloping sweep rearward and short overhangs at front and rear, that highlight the long, low look. It's so perfectly balanced one simply shouldn't notice there's a set of rear doors waiting for two back seat riders. Its coupe nature overrides that little detail.
It's when you peel away the exterior packaging that things in the posh interior can become exciting for the techno electronically inclined. The eight-inch display pops up with engine start. Navi and telephone information can be entered with a sort of "handwriting" hand gesture, while WIFI accommodates as many as eight different devices. Real time Google Earth mapping navigation with voice recognition gives broad, precise directions. And available heads up display and infrared night vision that highlights unseen people or pets in the dark ahead helps keep eyes and car on the road.
|Audi of America president, Johan de Nysschen (l) accepts trophy for 2012 International Car of the Year for the Audi A7. Presenting the award are Courtney Caldwell, ICOTY founder (c) and Mike Martini (r), president Bridgestone America OE, and ICOTY sponsor. (Photo by Jeff Kowalsky)
In the comfort equation, leather seating in front gets three stage heating and cooling. There's available heating for rear seats. And if spending extra cash is welcomed, the available, pricey (AKA $6K) Bang & Olufsen advanced sound with 15 speakers can blow your senses along with your wallet to offset the super quiet interior.
Who would expect such a slimly tailored auto could have a junk in the trunk talent that could make Kim Kardashian envious? Well, instead of the typical, pop-up lid of sedandom, the A7 actually sports a very usable, button-operated, height adjustable rear hatch hidden beneath the streamlined exterior lines. That's where we could have some fun, for example, hauling home a vintage burled wood lowboy with a price tag approaching the A7's $60,000 base, without fear of scratching either. (We're dreaming, of course.)
But forget the cargo qualifications for a moment and put it in drive mode then hold on. Any vehicle in the U.S. that limits speed to 130 MPH has got to have the brass underneath to challenge lightening. Go above 80 and a rear spoiler (that can be manually activated) automatically deploys to keep it grounded since the heavy use of aluminum in structure has reduced weight. (We won't risk a knock on the door from the state fuzz by suggesting we'd taunted the electronic governor.)
That punch, of course, comes from its credentials, in this case a 3.0-liter, 310-HP supercharged V-6 powerplant. And the preferred drive can be adjusted for four modes from comfort to dynamic. Like other Audis, the A7 sports Quattro drive, its trade name for all-wheel-drive. Audi states that combined with intelligent brake management (one of its myriad of safety features), it has "seamless neutral cornering." (Translation: It keeps you smoothly planted in curves.) Check out the eight-speed tiptronic trans, but don't look for paddle shifters. Ubiquitous in some other luxury autos, they're missing here.
The A7, on requisite premium, earns an 18 city/28 highway rating that averages 22 MPH. That's not so bad for some pretty posh playtime.
Road & Travel Magazine
2012 Audi A7 - International Car of the Year
For more info on the Audi A7, click here.
More on ICOTY Awards' History