Used Vehicle Review: Audi A7, 2012-2017

Vehicle Type

Five-door sportback/sedan

This machine looks like a seriously big deal rolling down the road.

History/Description

The Audi A7 launched in 2011 with some of the most distinctive looks in the premium car segment, some of Audi’s latest powertrain tech, and plenty of selection via numerous trim grades and option packages. Targeting shoppers after the stunning looks of an Audi coupe with the added functionality of a four-door, the A7 was a compelling model.

A departure from the chiseled, chunky and muscular looks of many recent Audi’s of the time, much of the A7’s lines are soft, sweeping, smooth, elegant and gentle. The face, as one of the most aggressive on this side of six-digit territory, is a striking bit of styling, too. This machine looks like a seriously big deal rolling down the road.

Feature content saw the A7 jam-packed with technology, including a Head-Up Display, navigation, climate controlled seats, and Audi’s MMI interface, complete with a touch-sensitive scribble-pad that allowed drivers to input to the system by ‘writing’ with their fingertips.

High-performance LED headlamps were available, and are advised – as they’re among the most powerful headlights your writer has ever used. A night-vision camera system could also be specified, and a drive mode selector allowed drivers to dial the A7 into their currently-desired blend of efficiency and performance.

Engines/Trim

At launch, A7 packed a 3.0L supercharged V6 engine, teamed up with an eight-speed automatic transmission with available paddle-shift, and Quattro AWD. From 2014 and on, Audi’s 3.0L TDI V6 engine was added to the powertrain lineup as well.

What Owners Like

Owners tend to rave about the A7’s striking looks, sporty all-season performance, good overall mileage (especially with the diesel engine) and slick, refined powertrain. The up-level stereo system and up-level headlight system are also highly rated.

What Owners Dislike

Common complaints include a fussy parking system, restrained interior looks on some trim grades, and a steep learning curve to some of the advanced features and systems.

Here’s a look at some owner reviews of the Audi A7.

The Test Drive

Some owners have reported niggling electronics-related issues, mostly on models from early in the A7’s lifespan. Here’s some more reading. And some more. As such, a full check of all electronics systems for proper functionality is recommended, which means arriving at your test drive prepared to spend some time examining all on-board systems before hitting the road.

Run the MMI system through all functions and menus, several times, confirming that the system runs smoothly and doesn’t freeze, lag, or crash. A horizontal line across the display screen, possibly flickering and green in colour, may indicate the need for a replacement screen, or replacement MMI unit. Pair your phone, set a navigation destination, and try all buttons, control knobs and control pads, confirming all work as expected. Confirm proper operation of all steering-wheel mounted controls, too. Be sure to triple check Bluetooth functionality with your specific smartphone, and the Smartphone of anyone with whom you’ll be sharing the A7, to confirm compatibility.

Next, check the instrument cluster for any warning lights or messages, including Check Engine lights, which are an invitation to have the vehicle subjected to a diagnostic scan.

Electronic issues can be frustrating to track down, sporadic in their existence, and inconsistent in terms of what systems they affect, if any. Your best defence against frustration? First, confirm the battery and charging system are healthy and in good order, as many electronics problems can be caused by a weak battery. Second, have the vehicle subjected to a full diagnostic system scan at an Audi dealer, whether or not any symptoms or warning messages are present. Inexpensively, and in moments, a technician can scan a multitude of vehicle systems to confirm that no problems are hiding. Use of a battery trickle charger when your A7 will be parked more than a few days at a time can go a long way to preventing electronic issues caused by a weak battery, too.

Next, move to the windows and doors. Confirm that all weather seals around the windows are intact, and that the rubber is plump and in good shape, not dried out, cracking or ripped. Try all power windows and locks several times, and ensure each door opens, locks and unlocks from all handles and switches, including the remotes. Note, while driving, that signs of squeaks, rattles or buzzing sounds from within the door area may be easy to fix with a little lubrication of some parts inside.

Finally, close all windows, exit the vehicle, and open each door, confirming that the window glass drops slightly when the door latch is opened, and that the window glass lifts back up slightly when the door is closed again. This is a characteristic of many vehicles with frameless windows. Some owners have reported problems with this function. If the windows fail to drop and raise slightly as the doors are opened and closed, the glass may slam into the body of the vehicle, damaging the paint, the windows, or the pricey window regulators inside of the door. If you note this problem, a dealer should be able to reset or fix the system quickly via a computer re-flash.

Shoppers are also advised to try all power windows, confirming that each opens and closes fully, several times, quickly, and without issues. If that’s not the case, the window regulator may need to be replaced.

A few other checks are recommended for maximum peace of mind.

On gas-powered models, assume that spark plugs are overdue for changing and will need replacement, until you see service records proving otherwise. Spark plugs should be changed at or (preferably) before their recommended intervals as outlined in the owner’s manual under ‘severe’ use. Be sure the vehicle has only ever been fed top-tier, quality gasoline, and plan to continue doing so.

The 3.0L supercharged V6 gasoline engine should also be scanned for any diagnostic codes that suggest an engine misfire, as this can indicate problems with valve gunk buildup, which is far more likely if spark-plug changes have been skipped, and if the vehicle has frequently been fuelled with poor-quality gasoline. A check of this engine’s cooling system is also advised, particularly for signs of water-pump or coolant-line leaks.

On diesel powered models, a full diagnostic scan is also advised, as is a visual check by a qualified Audi technician to confirm that the fuel delivery system (injectors, pumps, fuel lines) are in good shape. The AdBlue system, which occasionally injects an emissions-snuffing liquid into the exhaust stream, should also be inspected for signs of issue.

Finally, familiarize yourself with this owner-generated database of problems, which can be helpful. It highlights a few potential issues relating to jerky shifting, steering problems, suspension noises and other niggles, and highlights a few Technical Service Bulletins (TSB’s) that can help dealers address these issues, if they’re detected. Note that in many cases, updated software can remedy a variety of problems across various systems, including the navigation system, Bluetooth, transmission, headlights, and more. As such, shoppers are advised to work with an Audi dealer to confirm that all software updates are current. Just provide the vehicle’s VIN number to an Audi service manager and ask them to have a look.

The Verdict

Many of the A7’s more commonly reported problems should be fairly easy to detect on a test drive, and a simple electronics system scan at an Audi service centre can go a long way to turning in pre-purchase peace of mind. If your budget allows it, many A7 owners recommend purchasing a model from a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program at an Audi dealer, and adding any available extended warranty on offer. A used A7 with a clean bill of health and the added confidence of extended warranty coverage will go a long way towards confident enjoyment of a unique looking car that’s noted for a great all-weather driving experience.

Here’s a short list of recalls

Crash Test Ratings

N/A

Loved for all-season style and performance. 9/21/2017 6:28:00 AM