2011 Audi A7

I have never awarded a 5 Star rating to any car I’ve driven for a test-drive review, until now. How fitting the Audi A7 is the first car to grace the pages of FUEL. To earn such rare designation the car had to be tops in design, safety, technology, excitement and value. The 2011 Audi A7 delivered all this with minimal fanfare, except from the auto junkies who have had the opportunity to put this car through its paces here or on the Autobahn.

We all concurred, the 310HP 8 speed Tiptronic-Automatic responds so quickly it is hard to believe it’s a 6cyl under the hood. Not just any 3.0 litre TFSI V6, but one infused with the Supercharged power derived from the heritage of the Audi AWD-Quattro, delivering a 0-60 in 5.5 seconds. Harder still to believe, the fuel economy; 18-28 for a combined 22mpg.

When surveying cars in this luxury class we all expect the ultimate in precision handling and asphalt-ripping performance, wrapped in silk-glove elegance. Yes, the Audi grille is a bit aggressive looking, but those sexy headlamps pull your eye around the front fender and up the slightly raked beltline past the rear quarter into the dove-tail trunk lid. Surprise, the Sportback trunk is actually a powered lift gate which swiftly revealed a carnivorous hatch capable of swallowing an 8’ ladder. Every seat position provided enough headroom for the average NBA player and girth for a wide-body.

My pulse quickened as soon as I slid into the driver’s seat. The gauges jumped to life at the touch of the steering wheel, all designed to keep my focus on the road while operating under any driving situation from the race track to a forbidding mountain-pass winter white-out. To understand everything this car is capable of is a sensory-overload experience imbibing the latest in safety, and personality-customized technology.

The A7 becomes the driver, responding to my “show me” attitude with Audi Drive Select. The three; Auto, Comfort or Active drive options changed the shift points and handling to satisfy the evil twin replacing me behind the wheel.

While I cruised to the Bose surround sound, (there is a Bang & Olufsen 1300 watt 15 Speaker stereo upgrade package), I could have voice-commanded my contact list for the address to my next stop. Instead, I slowly spelled out my destination using the finger-tip mouse-pad. The Google Earth® navigation program pinpointed the desired location and converted the surface street map route to 3D landmarks the closer I got to the door. I’m told bread crumbs are included.

The new driver safety package provided every possible option my multi-tasking, distracted driver personality could desire; Head-up display, Pre-sense, Adaptive cruise control with Stop and Go, Night vision, Vehicle approach and Park assist, AWD and airbags with a 7th sense. Autopilot not included.

For me, the final benchmark of a 5 Star car is its value when compared with the competition; Porsche, BMW and Mercedes Benz. Starting at $60,000.00, the 2011 Audi A7 delivered on its promise and exceeded my expectations.

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The Sahara Hotel will close on May 16 after nearly six decades of helping countless tourists chase their dreams, in almost all cases throwing good money after bad. But that, as they say, was entertainment. This was one of those places—like the long-lost Sands and the blown-away Dunes—where booze-fueled Rat Pack-style antics were once carried out with a devil-may-care attitude in a fog of cigarette smoke. Or so I like to imagine. I missed out on those good ol’ days.