The luxury big SUV sector just got a whole lot more competitive – Audi’s back in the game with the all-new Q7.
To be honest, I was always a big fan of the first generation Q7, so I wasn’t totally sure about the new model.
And let’s not forget, the outgoing model was a big success – 500,000 have been sold around the world since its 2005 launch.
The new Q7 is certainly different. It’s lost none of its presence, but the curvy sports look has gone in favour of a sharper, more sculpted feel.
From the front, the car is now dominated by Audi’s new signature six-point “singleframe” grille, flanked by xenon or LED headlights (depending on the spec).
The all-new Q7 is certainly no cosmetic update. Slightly smaller, it’s actually more spacious inside thanks to a longer wheelbase. It’s also up to 325kg lighter because of its aluminium-steel composite build – and more economical.
But here’s the thing – Audi’s also loaded the new Q7 with stacks of tech and safety gizmos, making it a compelling proposition.
Standard features include Audi’s MMI infotainment system, which includes voice and touch recognition (yes, you can write postcodes and phone numbers on the touchpad!), while Audi’s options list is as long as your arm.
The stunning 12.3-inch “virtual cockpit”, debuted on the Audi TT, is definitely worth a mention. The futuristic digital display replaces the dashboard ahead of the driver, allowing you to view the sat nav (including an amazing Google Earth version) plus the usual dials – and customise the look.
And while the passenger is excluded in a TT, there’s still a beefy 8.3-inch screen in the centre console to even things out in the Q7.
The optional adaptive air suspension and all-wheel steering are also definitely worth adding, resulting in an even smoother ride and easier parking.
The Q7 doesn’t just come fully loaded with tech, it can be filled up with up to seven people and luggage too.
Inside the cabin there are three rows of seats, all upholstered in lovely leather. Needless to say, the driver and front seat passenger do not just enjoy a commanding view of the road, but a comfortable, plush, spacious area.
Passengers in the 2/3 seats behind get limo-like space, but things are a little tighter for the occupants of the third row of seats, if needed. I’d say only for children or small adults and it’s a bit of a clamber to get in.
Meanwhile, the boot is an impressive 770 litres, expanding to a van-like 1,955 litres with the rear seats down. There are also numerous cubby storage spaces.
And as if that isn’t all enough, the new Q7 comes with Audi’s famed quattro 4wd system and a 272PS 3.0-litre diesel engine capable of 47.9mpg.
It’s not just frugal and as smooth as they come – it’s also got some serious grunt… before you know it, you’ve cruised up to the legal limit on the open road. It can also be hustled – hitting 0-62mph in just 6.5 seconds and a top speed of 145mph.
We drove Q7 in SE and S line spec with the 8-speed tiptronic automatic transmission. Sadly we didn’t get a chance to drive it off-road, but Audi isn’t pretending that it has anything other than off-road capabilities. For a true 4×4 heavyweight, then go for a Land Rover Discovery Sport or Range Rover Sport. The reality is that few Q7s will ever venture off tarmac in their lifetimes, but it is good to know that it can handle extreme weather conditions.
Needless to say, the Q7 is safe too. It was awarded a maximum five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests, receiving an advanced award for the multicollision brake assist system (part of the standard Audi pre sense city) and the optionally available Audi pre sense basic, which in emergency situations tensions the seatbelt before a collision and closes the windows and sunroof. Also, for large families, up to six child seats can be installed as standard using ISOFIX mountings.
The Q7 is a joy to drive and doesn’t feel as big as it is, though it’s probably most comfortable cruising on A roads and motorways. And as with all Audi models, it’s well made and has a prestige feel.
Starting at £50,340, the new Audi Q7 is an impressive package – spacious, safe, luxurious, packed with goodies and surprisingly agile and economical.
What’s more, it more than holds its own in the company of its main rivals which include the Volvo XC90, Range Rover Sport, BMW x5, Porsche Cayenne and Jeep Grand Cherokee.