Audi Debuts The Next Generation A7
The sexy new Gran Turismo turns on a line
"Projects like this, as a designer, are a dream. Everyone wants to draw sporty cars," says Sebastiano Russo, an Audi designer whose sketches helped land him a spot on one of Audi's most exciting cars, the new Audi A7 fastback. Audi invited us to their global headquarters in Ingolstodt, Germany, outside of Munich, to see the debut of the next generation car in their just-opened Design Center (the global design team's new home). Arriving at dealers in late 2018 as a 2019 model, The new A7 "is a revolution, not an evolution," adds César Muntada Roura, head of light and wheel design. If you aren't already a fan of the car, its familiar but all-new evolution may make you one. As sexy and modern as it was when it launched, it's benefitted from a thoughtful overhaul with all new lighting, sharpened exterior lines, a much refined interior and a major tech upgrade.
Lighting, both inside and out, is a major focus. Audi is a pioneer in defining both a brand signature and a product signature for their vehicles, with dynamic LED and laser lighting helping to enable their cars to have an even more distinct presence. Its front lights—which pulse with a binary-inspired signature rhythm when turned on—set the A7's tone. Angular, prominent rear lighting, as in the current car spans the model's full width, creates a highly visible statement from the front and the side. Outlined with expressive Tron-like strips of light (that we are fully in love with), these showcase the interior's lines. Roura, tells us they "wanted to give digitization a shape, a personality, with movement and a unique signature." It’s one of the most well lit cabins we've seen, allowing a nighttime run to Whole Foods to feel more like the End of Line Club.
The original A7, launched in 2011, was partially inspired by the rear of the 1973 Audi 100 Coupé S, which we were excited to see in Audi's extensive vehicle archive. While that influence can still be seen, the new A7's exterior has evolved into a stronger and more confident expression—easily recognizable as an A7, and perhaps to some not that different at all. But to those who enjoy precision and craft there's a lot to like. The design team took advantage of this opportunity to deepen and strengthen the car's stance. "I'm excited that it really sharpens the concept. The added lines, the fast roofline, a line that accentuates it. It takes the same idea to a new dimension," says Filip Brabec, VP of product planning at Audi of America. He adds, it's "a sculpture in motion. It's ready to jump." Russo says "Since we have the perfect proportion for this gran turismo for me personally it was really important to explore this—my very first sketch had this very strong 3D line. We raised the rear deck by nearly 3cm and that gave us a lot of room to play with the dimensions, light and shadow play." The proportions are 1/3 2/3, never half/half, giving lightness to the rear. "If you play with light and shadow you create this sleek lightness," he adds. Advances in tooling have enabled the design and production teams to help bring their vision into reality.
A new generation brings the opportunity to introduce new things across the board, and the A7 benefits from Audi's most recent tech, including the multi screen touch-control panels which are shared with the new A8 and control most vehicle functions. Unlike those in the A8, which face all passengers, those in the A7 are angled toward the driver: there's no pretense at who the favored passenger is in the A7.
Displays are integrated into the dash for a more harmonious and integrated appeal that's more suitable to the interior. User experience design for the system has also been overhauled, with increased ease of use, more clearly presented information, and much faster response. Practical tools include the Audi AI remote parking and garage pilot, which autonomously maneuver the vehicle into place while you capture the moment on Instagram. Together with the City and Tour assist packages, there are 39 systems that help you manage traffic, operate the vehicle more efficiently and allow those with minimal driving skills to pilot the vehicle like a pro.
One of the A7's strongest selling points—aside from its looks and performance—is its hybrid coupé styling meets practical interior, with a lot of room. Folding the rear seats offers an abundance of room for most anything you'd need to get from A to B. Like all models a number of engines, sound systems, lighting packages, and plenty of options are offered to make even the most jaded content.
Launching in February 2018 in Germany (starting at the €68,000) and available in US dealers in late 2018 (pricing not yet released), the all new A7 offers a new generation of sporty style and the occasional envious glance.
Images by Evan Orensten