FINDING
A7th
HEAVEN

FINDING<br/>A7th<br/>HEAVEN
The 2019 Audi A7 reveals the pleasures that can lead to happiness.
drive
I had been waiting weeks to drive this car. No doubt, you can imagine my excitement. The prospect of moments alone with the 2019 Audi A7 built my anticipation and, honestly, anxiety—not that I’d scratch such a beautiful automobile, but that I would enjoy the drive too much. That after not owning a car since moving to Southern California, I would finally meet my match in the A7. I’m a bike-riding, ride-sharing millennial, but I knew that the A7 wasn’t just any car.
Then, I finally sat in the driver seat and began driving to Los Angeles to pick up a passenger. But what I really wanted to do was creep slowly past every one of the city’s al fresco restaurants. I was in one of the hottest cars on the road, and I wanted everyone to know. After a few miles, I began to wonder: Could a car bring me happiness? If this sounds a little unhealthy, don’t worry: I spoke with a psychiatrist—my passenger, Dr. Tigran Gevorkian—about it.
“In our brain, neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin are responsible for pleasure and happiness respectively,” Dr. Gevorkian said, “and they give us like an anti-depressant effect. So when you’re shopping for a car, these chemicals are released, and you could say you’re feeling happy. Especially when you have a car this good, you can feel even more happy about getting a new car.”
HEAD IN THE CLOUDS
It was a crisp, clear afternoon when Gevorkian and I drove in the Audi A7 along the stunning, two-
lane Angeles Crest Highway and talked about the difference between happiness and pleasure. When asked if he thought this car could make a driver happy, he said: “Considering how well made and how pleasurable the drive is, I would say yes.
“Let’s put it this way,” Gevorkian said, “driving the car every day gives you pleasure, but owning the car gives you a sense of happiness. Because being the owner of the car, it’s not just driving. It’s the interior, the exterior, the feel of the engine and part of your identity. All of these little pleasurable details can give you an overall sense of happiness.”
Gevorkian was practically selling me the car with an exclamation at every turn of the mountain highway. “I like how the car moves, how it listens to me,” he said. “The audio system is amazing, of course, and the acceleration. It’s all there. I love this.”
He gestured toward the head-up display projected onto the windshield. “I can see the road, and I’m getting information about the road ahead,” he said.
“I’ve never seen anything like it before. Together this gives me a sense of confidence, which really contributes to that feeling of happiness. All of this technology helps give you comfort, which contributes
Dr. Tigran Gevorkian breaks a smile along the Angeles Crest Highway north of Los Angeles.
Appointments in the interior of the Audi A7 are ergonomically sound and crafted with premium fit and materials in mind.
to that feeling of confidence and flow, which, over time creates this ease and makes you happy.”
We drove all the way to State Route 138 near Wrightwood before turning back. When I dropped him off at home, Gevorkian said, “Remember: Pleasure is more short-term and simple. Not all pleasure leads to happiness. Happiness is a more complete feeling.”
BACK TO THE BEAT
With a lot to consider, I thanked Dr. Gevorkian and chased the setting sun toward Sunset Boulevard. Then I picked up a friend, music producer Chris Rockaway, and we headed to the only place in Los Angeles with ample free parking: the grocery store.
As the mirrors folded in upon locking the car, I received another hit of dopamine. Listen: I know material things cannot bring you happiness, but it made me happy to travel to so many local places in the same day. It made me happy to visit my friend easily and not worry about public transport or riding my bike 40 miles. And it made me happy to walk away from the A7, its LED taillights with animation bidding us farewell as we headed inside for simple retail pleasures. Most days, I don’t drive up and down an idyllic American highway, and it was nice to feel happy while simply parking at the grocery store.
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“PLEASURE IS MORE SHORT-TERM AND SIMPLE. NOT ALL PLEASURE LEADS TO HAPPINESS. HAPPINESS IS A MORE COMPLETE FEELING.”
Returning to the car, I asked Rockaway to check out the sound system with some of his music, but being the humble guy he is, my friend chose to take over the Apple CarPlay® with some of his favorite music. The pop music twinkled across the Bang & Olufsen® 3D Premium Sound System’s 16 speakers, and new hip-hop tracks tastefully boomed, boosting our confidence on the way to a DJ show.
Features like Audi Adaptive Cruise Assist[1] can help reduce the psychological barrier of traffic—which seems to be getting worse in every major city—so you can enjoy the time you spend with people you care about. The Audi virtual cockpit gives you a focused confidence inside. That confidence offers an alternative to the dopamine effect associated with much of today’s connected technology—the difference between getting the information you want versus checking your phone a hundred times. Of course there’s the car’s tenacious self-possession that comes with quattro® all-wheel drive system and all the interior luxury to help bring along the comforts of your connected home no matter how far you travel.
“There’s nothing like pulling up to the club in this car,” Rockaway said. “Everyone is looking.” Miraculously, I saw a parking space in front of the club when we arrived. Then the valet came running over to take
The interior of the Audi A7 is brightened by natural light during the day and optional ambient lighting during nighttime drives to enhance the mood.
“All of this technology can help give you comfort, which contributes to that feeling of confidence and flow, which, over time creates this ease and makes you happy.”
my keys. Riding the high of driving a car so sleek and beautiful, I sheepishly asked the valet if we could just park there in front of his kiosk, and he laughed. “Okay, I was probably just going to leave it there anyway,” he said. “Nice car.”
After the show, Rockaway and I drove with the sound system off, enjoying the silence and the insulated sound of the 3.0-liter TFSI® turbocharged V6 engine with our ears still buzzing from the club. At a stop sign around the corner from Rockaway’s home somewhere between Koreatown and Echo Park, a coyote darted into the street.
In five years of living in the L.A. area, I had never seen one of these little mascots of the basin, but there it was, staring down the A7. The coyote sniffed the air and trotted along the center dividing line for a while before bounding beyond my sight. I smiled, as I felt the dopamine, serotonin and a little taste of cortisol wash over me all at once.
I’m not sure if a car can make you happy, but it can transport you. It can remove barriers to give you opportunity, and it can open up a lot of happiness if you use it the right way.
AN ABRIDGED GUIDE TO NEUROTRANSMITTERS
Neurotransmitter: A chemical inside the brain that produces emotions and feelings.
Dopamine: Short-lived, this biochemical activates your fight-or-flight system and increases blood pressure. Its presence and flow will blow out neurological receptors for both dopamine and serotonin, leading to reduced happiness and an addiction to the chemical itself. Think of feeling the blip of a car’s accelerator or receiving a notification on your smartphone.
Serotonin: Leading to a sense of contentment that lasts between days to years, this neurotransmitter brings a focused quality of contentment while slowing heart rate and reducing blood pressure. Think of spending time traveling with loved ones or receiving a heart-felt note from your child away at college.
Cortisol: Released from the adrenal gland, this stress hormone is meant to help the body maintain function in acute situations, but long-term exposure leads to stress-related problems. It often accompanies dopamine in risk-reward situations. Think of parking under a streetlight bustling with pigeon activity or receiving the bill for your child’s college tuition.