Audi Raises Curtain on New Liftback A7
The new A7 is the second liftback model from Audi recently, and will compete with the Mercedes CLS and Jaguar XF.
This is Audi's new A7 — the sleek, upmarket liftback previewed by the Sportback concept at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show. The A7 aims to provide the company with a stylish but practical rival to contemporary four-door luxury cars such as the Jaguar XF and the second-generation Mercedes-Benz CLS.
Revealed at a gala presentation in Munich on Monday, the A7 is the second liftback model launched by Audi recently, following the smaller A5. It's based on the same platform as next year's A6 and boasts an initial range of V6 gasoline engines with the promise of a more powerful V8 in an upcoming S7 performance variant scheduled for introduction in 2012. The new four-door is being looked upon to significantly boost Audi's market penetration in North America when it goes on sale here early next year.
Drawing heavily on the earlier Sportback concept for inspiration, the A7 displays elements of Audi's current design lineage, where it receives a prominent single-frame grille. But, it makes a decisive break with current Audi models at the rear with a heavily sloping window and trunk lid, which are integrated to provide a large, electronically operated liftback-style tailgate that provides easy access to a the trunk.
Inside, the A7 gets a unique dashboard design overlaid with switchgear from the A8. Again, it leans heavily on the Sportback concept with a low-set fascia intersected by a broad center console. Initial versions of the new Audi will get a four-seat layout with individual rear seats, but a five-seat version with a three-across rear bench is also planned.
The new Audi's mechanical underpinning is a development of the company's Modular Longitudinal Platform in an arrangement that will also be used by the next-generation A6 — alongside which the A7 will be produced at Audi's Neckarsulm factory in Germany.
Using a conventional monocoque structure rather than the expensive space-frame arrangement seen on the larger A8, Audi has provided its newest model with a range of weight-reducing measures, including aluminum front suspension towers and a part aluminum body.
The gasoline-engine lineup includes the supercharged 3.0-liter making 300 hp that is claimed to hit 62 mph from standstill in 5.6 seconds en route to a top speed of 155 mph.
An S7 performance model is also planned but not due to reach the U.S. market until 2012. Audi is not providing any details to its future Jaguar XFR and Mercedes-Benz CLS550 rival, but Ingolstadt officials hint it is in line to receive a new twin-turbocharged version of Audi's existing 4.2-liter V8 delivering about 480 hp with the help of a new piezo-equipped direct-injection system.
Also under consideration for addition to the lineup is an even more powerful RS7 model. Conceived around the same twin-turbocharged 5.2-liter V10 used in the RS6, it's not likely to be launched before 2014. Reflecting the upmarket positioning of the A7, the RS7 will come with the same equipment levels and optional features as the new A8.