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This is not just another vehicle in the Audi lineup of impressive offerings. This one is very unique. The German automaker has crafted a distinctive exterior style that has the new 2012 Audi A7 being described as a sedan, coupe and hatchback.

Confused by the description? You should be.

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The A7 has four doors, so it’s a sedan, right? Yet it also has a sleek profile that makes it appear coup-like. To cloud matters even further, the design features a roof line that is radically sloped. And instead of a traditional trunk, the opening to the rear is hatchback-like, hence the scratch-your-head confusion – how does this distinctive vehicle get classified?

Audi calls it a Sportback! More specifically, the A7 is a hatchback version of the redesigned Audi A6 sedan.

But if you’re the women who work in my office, the classification is meaningless. They unanimously characterized the Audi A7 as “extremely sexy.” And there is no argument here. In fact, this is one attractive vehicle that some car aficionados claim looks similar to the Porsche Panamera, which is high praise indeed.

Enough with the looks, how does this car perform? The A7’s efficient engine emits a mild grumble, but overall is silent and smooth. Although the A7 comes with just one engine and one trim model, it will please practically everyone. Gas mileage ranging from 18-28 mpg is another plus.

The A7 is a 3.0-liter, supercharged V6 that produces 310 horsepower. It can get you there in a big hurry, evidenced by its 0-60 mph clocking in a mere 5.4 seconds. The suggestion here: pay attention to the speedometer because 90 mph can easily feel like 70 mph. The handling is both responsive and sporty, a good combination.

It doesn’t take long to realize this is one fun midsize car. And adding to the enjoyment is Audi’s Drive Select, which provides choices in shift characteristics, steering effort, and throttle response. Take your pick, there are four modes – auto, dynamic, comfort, and individual.

Audi is making a statement with the A7 exterior and it continues its reputation for designing clever interiors as well. There is a lot of instrumentation to master, but once that is accomplished most drivers will really enjoy all the technology the A7 has to offer.

If there’s a valid criticism for the A7 it’s the back seat. Only two passengers can fit in the back and the legroom is average, while the headroom will bother people 6-foot or taller.

The hatchback styling provides a deep cargo area that measures 24.5 cubic feet and is ideal for storing a golf bag.

It’s hard to find fault with the Audi A7, unless one considers the price. It’s not cheap at $59,250. The bottom line here is car buyers won’t be shortchanged with this purchase; the A7 is a unique vehicle with some very enviable qualities.

2012 Audi A7

Performance: 3.0-liter, supercharged V6, 310 horsepower
Mileage estimate: 18-28 mpg
Price: $59,250

Standard features include: all-wheel drive; automatic bi-xenon headlights; heated windshield washers; sunroof; three-zone automatic climate control; heated eight-way power seats, four-way lumbar adjustment; driver memory functions; leather upholstery; Audi MMI system; 14-speaker Bose sound system, CD player, satellite radio, iPod audio interface; traction and stability control

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