Audi A7 mixes fun, utility for families

Prices for the 2012 Audi A7 -- a

Prices for the 2012 Audi A7 -- a five-door sloped-roof vehicle with a rear hatch rather than a trunk -- begin at $59,250. (Credit: Handout)

Audi has joined the growing list of automakers introducing family cars that are disguised as sporty coupes, combining fun and utility in one great package.

In Audi's case, it's the all-new A7, a five-door sloped-roof vehicle with a rear hatch rather than a trunk. But it has a really sleek look to it, nothing like what one might imagine from what essentially is a versatile crossover.

The rear hatch and the two rear passenger doors give this car considerably more utility than a coupe when it comes to loading passengers or cargo.

Among other current offerings in this new vehicle class are premium models such as the BMW X6 and Acura ZDX, and all of these can run up to $50,000, depending on how you equip them.

Our 2012 A7 3.0 TFSI quattro tester had a base price of $59,250 and a final sticker of $68,830, including freight and options.

The A7 is a sporty car that can, if necessary, carry your do-it-yourself supplies home. It's perfect for hauling one of those new big flat-screen TVs, or even a piece of plywood.

This sleek, beautiful car has seating for just four people, but everyone rides in comfort. Up front, there is no indication whatsoever that this is a utility vehicle. It drives just like a sport coupe, with the kind of precise road handling that one would expect from a German-engineered luxury vehicle.

Under the hood is a 3.0-liter V-6 engine that, with its standard supercharger, cranks out 310 horsepower. It's connected to an Audi eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission with manual-shift capability. Standard is Audi's quattro full-time all-wheel-drive system, which automatically maintains traction on all road surfaces.

The A7 can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in just 5.4 seconds, but fuel economy is quite decent at 18 mpg city/28 highway.

Craftsmanship and quality are evident throughout, from the wraparound cockpitlike dash to the leather seats and wood interior trim.

The A7 also has Audi's newest telematics/audio/navigation technology, including handwriting recognition for the navigation and phone systems, for easy entry of addresses or phone numbers.

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