Motoring: Right on Q – Audi’s magnificent 7
10:31 29 October 2015
Audi’s Q7 has always been imposing when it comes to luxury SUVs, but the second generation makes an even bigger impression by giving more from less, says motoring editor Andy Russell
It makes a big impression but the all-new Audi Q7 is slightly shorter and narrower than its predecessor. Despite this, and in part because it’s taller, it has more space inside and looks less bulky. It’s shed up to 325kg so weighs less than competitors. It’s no lightweight when it comes to performance however - more powerful than series one yet economy and emissions have been improved by around a quarter. Add competitive pricing and no wonder Audi is saying you can have the car of an oligarch without the whopping bank account.
The 3-litre V6 turbo diesel is launched in a more powerful 272PS guise, and will be joined this month by a 218PS version, both with eight-speed automatic transmission. Combined with the lighter weight, the 272PS version has class-leading performance. The 218PS version will be tops for economy and emissions, still on the pace for performance and cuts the lead-in price from £50,340 to £47,755.
This refined engine is much quieter and the hush is heightened by little tyre noise despite some launch cars riding on 20in alloys. For an SUV more than five metres long it’s so agile you can forget the size of this beast, which is the limiting factor on narrow roads.
Standard coils springs would be my choice, feeling involving on twisty roads while giving a compliant ride that soothes away road defects without divorcing you from what’s under the tyres. If you spend a lot of time on motorways the optional adaptive air suspension is worth considering – it wafts along and leans less through corners when driving hard.
In the original Q7 I once three-point turned my way out of a multi-storey car park so would have appreciated the option of all-wheel steering for sharper low-speed manoeuvres - it has the turning circle of an Audi A4 - and more agility at speed.
The Q7 has seven seats as standard, although you can have third-row of two seats deleted as a no-cost option - but why would anyone want to reduce its desirability on the used market when they fold one-handed into the boot floor? With the sliding middle row three seats you can adapt legroom for seven adults, although those in the rear-most seats need to be small and supple to get in and out. The second row split 35/30/35 so all three occupants get a decent backrest.
With all seven seats in use there’s still a supermini-like 295-litre boot when you raise the standard powered tailgate. Drop the third row of electrically-powered seats and it rises to a 770 litres, and 1,955 with the second row folded flat.
The fascia is pure Audi – tasteful with classy ergonomics; big, clear dials, slick control stalks and buttons and most functions on the multimedia interface controller between the front seats via a large screen. A virtual cockpit incorporating a hi-tech 12.3in digital instrument display is optional. With lots of seat and wheel adjustment you soon feel at home driving this big SUV. The cabin is beautifully finished with top-notch materials and attention to detail.
The Q7 doesn’t skimp across the range, with all models having drive mode options, sat-nav, keyless entry and ignition, visual and acoustic parking aids and a city system to help avoid or mitigate front-end shunts. With this Q7 having the most technology of any Audi, there’s a host of features and safety systems you can tailor to your needs.
The Q7 has huge appeal with acres of space inside but doesn’t feel big to drive. That speaks volumes for the engineering expertise that has gone into it. And, with strong residuals and much lower running costs, you don’t need to be an Abramovich to run one.
Price: 3.0 TDI quattro 272PS SE £50,340; S line £53,835
Engine: 2,967cc, 272PS, V6 turbo diesel
Performance: 0-62mph 6.5 seconds; top speed 145mph
MPG: Urban 44.1; extra urban 50.4; combined 47.9 (19 and 20in wheels)
Size: L: 5,052mm; W: 1,968mm; H: 1,740mm