Overview: At its heart, the 2017 Audi S7 is a 450-hp, all-wheel-drive sedan that piles on amenities, stunning finishes, and world-class construction to make it a top-drawer executive express. And crowning it all is a design that, despite its age, remains a hallmark for beauty and function not just among Audis but among all luxury cars.
The S7 sits below only the RS7 in Audi’s mid-size lineup, and there’s just one powertrain available: a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 bolted to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. All-wheel drive and an adaptive suspension are standard. The S7 substitutes a sloping rear roofline and a hatchback liftgate in place of the S6 sedan’s more traditional three-box design and trunklid. The compromise, naturally, is tighter rear-passenger headroom and only four seatbelts, while the benefits are those stunning good looks and a large, easily accessed cargo space that gets even more practical with the rear seats folded.
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Among the S7’s standout features are its intuitive MMI interface that controls audio, navigation, HVAC, and phone functionality, plus an interior finished with opulent leather, wood inlays, and microsuede.
What’s New: The S7 sees few notable changes for 2017. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are now standard. The Premium Plus trim level adds a Bose surround-sound system and a new 19-inch wheel design. Audi Connect becomes standard, and it adds 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity. Larger 20- and 21-inch wheels are available. A new optional Driver Assist package brings adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist. Red brake calipers are available with the Sport package.
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What We Like: Although the S7’s fastback roofline gives some indication of this car’s dynamic merit, this large hatchback is not easily sniffed out by those who notice performance hardware. And yet the last version we tested, a 2016 model with the same power and torque ratings, hit 60 mph from rest in 3.9 seconds, only 0.5 second behind outrageous dedicated performance cars such as the 650-hp Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. We like MMI’s ease of use, as well as the decidedly upscale look of the cabin materials. Combine this car’s talents with its uncommon packaging and knockout styling, and the S7 secures itself a unique spot among performance cars.
What We Don’t Like: There’s the obvious: If you need to regularly haul four adults, a conventional sedan like the S6 will be a better choice. However, if your kids are small enough to fit comfortably in the back, then the S7’s liftback packaging remains appealing. Although the S7 can display a Google Map in its instrument cluster, it lacks the full 12.3-inch high-resolution Virtual Cockpit display found in other Audis. That is reflective of an overall interior aesthetic that’s behind those of the most recent Audis. Some interior items are last-generation wares, but there’s still strong, usable, and good-looking design and function here.
Verdict: An aging beauty is still a beauty.