EXECUTIVE EDITOR RORY CARROLL: I was a huge fan of our dearly departed long-term Audi S7. Over the course of our loan, I put thousands of miles on the white-wonder, driving it to and from Traverse CityMich. most weekends. I recently made the same trip in this short-term example and I was reminded just how perfect the S7 is as a highway cruiser.

This car gets a lot of attention from pedestrians. While carrying a cooler from the big hatch to my dad’s pontoon boat, I heard someone yell “Go Green!” Realizing I was wearing my Michigan State hat, I turned and hollered “Go White!” to the small group of swimwear-clad 20-somethings crowded around the S7. As the crowd moved on, one of the young men in the group turned to another and said, “I love it when I see a Spartan with a badass car.” I didn’t have a chance to explain that I couldn’t afford the wheels on the S7.

I am definitely not a fan of the “layered aluminum and black wood inlays” in the interior of our test car. The wood is beautiful, but the aluminum is arranged in a kind of pinstripe pattern that one passenger said looked like “the kind of shirt that a high school sophomore from Kansas would pair with a fluorescent tie for prom night.” Had the aluminum been arranged in another pattern, or had there been less of it, it might not have been quite so bad. 

The Audi S7 is a perfect highway cruiser.PHOTO BY AUDI

SENIOR ROAD TEST EDITOR NATALIE NEFF: No matter how many times I see an Audi S7, the sheer beauty of the car strikes me. I just never tire of the shape, even after having lived with a long-term model for a year. It’s easily one of the most beautiful cars made since my tenure as a car writer started nearly 20 years ago. Probably didn’t hurt that I spent two weeks driving over 6,000 ‘round the country in an A7 when it first launched to endear it to me.

Inside, the car is a joy to live with. It’s a lovely cabin, and all the controls are so intuitive and easy to access. The bonus: the hatchback! Give me a fifth door and I’m a happy, happy girl. I do get Rory’s beef with the aluminum pinstripe effect, but it didn’t bother me. I didn’t go to prom in Kansas, but my date did wear high tops with his long-tail tux, so maybe that explains it.

And yet…maybe it’s because I love the underlying A7 so much that it pains me to find any fault with the S7, which on paper should be my dream car. The problem is in the execution of the powertrain. The engine is powerful enough, true; 420 horses is nothing to sneeze at, even pulling over 4,500 pounds around. And the car handles really well, the mass well controlled, the tires not too bangy over potholes and lateral transitions smooth and predictable. No, it’s where the engine torque meets the seven-speed where things get a bit wonky. The delay from pedal depression to wheels turning is so frustrating, and no matter where on the tach you call for power, tranny shifts just lack the refinement, the crispness you expect from a car wearing a premium brand’s badge.

In a car that does so much right, that should blow the doors off the vast majority of midsize four-doors in any category you can name, it’s all the more disappointing that Audi couldn’t polish the transmission a skosh more before rolling out this car.

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