The idea of a road trip is something that’s particularly essential in the life of any and every car guy. Everyone’s definition of a road trip is slightly different, and I am no exception to this. I recently was invited to Calabogie, ON, to ride some of Honda‘s latest motorcycles. Rather than fly to Ottawa and drive out from there, I decided to tackle the beautiful two-lane highways of central Ontario en route to my equally-lovely destination. My choice of vehicle was the 2014 Audi A7 TDI, painted Glacier White and bearing all of the S-Line appearance goodies.
I drove the A7 TDI early last winter and thoroughly fell in love with it. While I adore its bigger brother, the A8, I find it a tad large for my 6’1 / 175 frame. Plus, when I’m clean shaven, I look like I’m 18, so it appears as though I’m a driving my dad’s car. The A7 has a beautifully sculpted body, and the pillar-less windows and sloped roofline make it look like a true coupé. My car’s Glacier White exterior mated to the beautiful 20″ S-Line wheels made it stand out in the crowd of older domestic SUVs and pickups in the countryside.
Naturally though, my favourite part of this big Audi is the powertrain. The 3.0L turbocharged inline-6 diesel engine purrs like a kitten. Its 240 horsepower is great, but the 428 lb-ft of torque makes it pull like a freight train. Passing power is ample, and the A7 is a lot faster than it feels. Cruising outside the city, it’s essential to keep watching the speedometer or the indicator in the heads-up display to make sure you don’t do anything the law doesn’t permit. Smoothness and refinement are the main virtues of this car, and it does nothing to hide this fact. The BMW 535d is pretty darn good, but Audi has the TDI combination down to an art.
To accompany the superb nature of the A7 is the Bang & Olufsen sound system on-board my tester. At $6,500, this isn’t a cheap option, and on some models, works out to be nearly 10% of the total cost of the car. It’s not something the everyman would opt for, but because I consider myself to be a pretty serious audiophile, I wouldn’t go without it. I will inevitably own more Audis in the future, and I can guarantee that whether I buy new or pre-owned, the B&O system will be equipped. It’s just such a crisp-sounding system. Every note, instrument, and word can be heard. When tuned properly using the equalizer settings, it’s crystal-clear even when the volume is at its peak.
The interior is just as scrumptious as the exterior of this car. One of my colleagues did mention that he would prefer saving a few thousand dollars and forego some of the sheer sexiness of the A7 and just purchase an A6 TDI, but I disagree. The lines of this car make it one of the most visually-appealing cars of this decade, and it’d be worth every dime of the difference to me. The leather seats are supportive and hug me in all the right ways, and the optional seat ventilation on this car was a saviour the 34-degree days, eliminating the possibility of icky back sweat. The MMI system is just as good in here as in every other model Audi makes. It may not be the most high-resolution, but it’s extremely easy to get used to. I’ve now driven quite a few Audis, and I’ve become accustomed to the system and can accomplish most tasks without having to take my eyes off the road at all.
Everybody who saw my social media updates or that knew I was taking this trip with the A7 TDI asked one question, and I’m sure it’s what most readers are looking for too. Fuel mileage – it’s what everybody cares about with these new diesels. My drive to Calabogie was mostly all inner highways; I avoided the 400-series highways as soon as I left the Greater Toronto Area. Over ~800km round trip, I averaged a brilliant 6.0L/100km on straight roads. Audi projects 5.3L/100km highway for this car, but there were two of us in there and we had the seat ventilators and the A/C running at almost full blast the whole way. The car was also packed with a ton of motorcycle gear and luggage. The gigantic 73L fuel tank means the A7 can theoretically do over 1200km on one tank of diesel.
Audi’s untouchable “quattro” all-wheel-drive system means that this gorgeous four-door can be used for road trips year round, and I see this as a huge plus. Though some purists and hypermilers will be asking for a rear-drive model to maximize fuel economy even more, at 6L/100km I’m not seeing any reason to complain. It’s positively astonishing, this car. My particular tester had over $20,000 in options, taking the sticker price to $98,500, but even still, I consider it a bargain. It’s incredibly stylish, it’s very easy on the eyes, it’s impeccably comfortable, and it’s efficient. When you look at the overall package the Audi A7 TDI delivers, it’s almost a bargain. If my daily commute involved mainly highway driving, I actually couldn’t imagine a more perfect daily driver.
Road Trip: 2014 Audi A7 TDI Gallery