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Audi's Mobile Hot Spot

Paul A. Eisenstein
From the Print Edition:
Havana—The Insider's Guide, November/December 2011

Forget horsepower. These days, automakers are as likely to brag about the wattage of their onboard infotainment systems, the speaker count more important than the number of cylinders. For a growing number of buyers, accessing smartphone apps has become more important than class-leading, 0-to-60 acceleration. The good news is that with the all-new Audi A7, you’ll get all of those high-tech features—along with a car that’s not only quick, but incredibly eye-catching.

The A7 advances the next-generation MMI, or Multimedia Interface, first seen on the new Audi flagship, the A8. It’s a pleasantly simple task to pair up your smartphone, but the A7 offers its own data link, accessible through a built-in WiFi hot spot you can use with an iPad or laptop computer. The updated Audi navigation system continuously downloads satellite images provided by Google Maps. It creates a compelling visual image—but it’s also quite practical.  If someone says to turn left at the bank you’ll actually see it on the screen before you reach the corner. To find a destination, you can even use the voice-activated Google Search.

Audi has earned a justifiably fine reputation for design but nothing in its growing fleet combines the elegant proportions, graceful lines and nimble manners of the new hatchback. And, yes, hatchbacks are back, and the A7 is a good reason why. Functionality never looked so good.

And as you’d expect from an Audi, that applies inside and out. The German marque has long set the interior benchmark everyone else struggles to match. The A7’s cabin has a clean, well-designed layout with just the right balance of leather, wood and chrome. While there are enough high-tech features to make a geek squeal with delight, everything you need to touch or see is within easy reach.

There are plenty of high-tech “nanny features,” including adaptive cruise, which uses radar sensors that can detect and react to a car slowing down ahead of you—even bringing your car to a halt—as well as blind-spot intervention and lane-keeping assist.
Every way you look at it, the four-seater is an eye-catcher. It’s a car that few—be they technophobes or technophiles, gearheads or fashionistas—will be able to resist.

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