A6/A7 brothers driven: A masterclass in refinement.
By Nicholas Yekikian
As emissions regulations continually try to minimize the negative effects of the internal combustion engine on our environment, automakers are looking for ways to try and get more power out of smaller engines while simultaneously striving for better fuel economy.
It puts engineers in a tricky spot, but the world will likely be all the better for it. And now it seems like the 48-volt, mild hybrid systems found in cars like the new Audi A6 and its more handsome brother, the A7, might provide a near-perfect answer to the ever-tightening fuel regulations. We drove the pair of new Audis recently to check out what makes the cars and their new, Bosch-supplied, 48 volt electrical systems make.
Walking up to the A6 or A7 and you can’t help but think, “wow these two are good looking cars.” Both of them are definitively Audi. With clean lines and no fake vents or scoops to be found, the cars are both refined and understated – just like a good Audi should be.
Get in, it’s easy – both of our testers had keyless entry. Sit yourself on the plush brown leather seats, press the brushed metal go button in the center console and the 2.9 liter V6 silently springs into life and Audi’s virtual cockpit explodes with information. Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? Did you need gas? Did you want to check the weather? The Audi’s can check all of this for you and more. At first, the amount of information is purely overwhelming, but taking the time to learn the system is rewarding. Navigating the stacked touchscreens in the center of the dashboard becomes a cinch.
Inside it’s quiet and refined; every single surface is covered in either alcantara, leather, wood, or brushed metal. And they’re used in a way that you hardly notice you’re looking at so many different materials.
On the road, the ride is simply sublime. Both of the cars we tested sat on 21” wheels – normally a nightmare for NVH, even in bigger cars like these – however, the air suspension handled Hollywood’s craggy roads with ease. An often unnoticed benefit of the mild hybrid setup is how smooth the auto stop-start function is. In cars with a 12-volt system the function can often feel jumpy, but not in these Audis. They roll to a stop smoothly – even if the brake pedal is a little squishy – and the motor shuts off and starts back up without a fuss. Part of the reason it’s so seamless is the cars use their front-mounted cameras in the nose of the vehicle to start the engine back up as the car in front of you drive away. That’s cool.
Pulling away from a stop is seamless as a result. The Audi brothers are also quick; the added torque from the hybrid system is shoots you off the line with a nice urgency. It’s altogether surprising and pleasant. The steering is far too light and offers nothing in the way of feedback, but do steering feel and power delivery really matter in a car like this? They’re not supposed to be sports cars. They’re meant to be cosseting cruisers, and they fill that role perfectly.
These two cars are a masterclass in refinement, and they do everything that matters to a person who would buy the A6/7 well. They’re comfortable, easy to drive and, more than anything, refined. That and they show just how much potential these new, more powerful electric systems have. I can’t wait until they start using them in sports cars.
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