Audi Q7 Review
by KARL PESKETT
Price: Q7 160kW 3.0 TDI Quattro from $96,855 plus options and on-road costs
Engine/Trans: 160kW/500Nm 3.0-litre turbo diesel / 8-speed automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 5.8 l/100km combined
Suspension: Coil sprung independent or adaptive air suspension
Towing: 3500kg braked / 750kg unbraked
“So, what do you drive?”
A bit of hyperbole never killed anyone.
But in the case of the Audi Q7, it’s not far from the truth. This is a seven-seat SUV that is absolutely huge. At over five metres long and 1.97-metres wide, it puts a lot of car on the road. But then, it costs a lot, too. Pushing nearly $100K, this isn’t an impulse purchase. But what it is, is full of tech, luxury and comfort.
It’s fashioned from so much aluminium that South Australians will be following you around, ready to take it off to a recycling centre. Thanks to this metallic diet it has lost 325kg since the previous Q7, but it still tips the scales at 2135kg.
The front end is truly imposing. With a massive grille and a bluff design, it fills a rear vision mirror quite adequately; people move out of its way. With its rounded edges, it looks like the automotive version of a hippo – big, heavy and you certainly don’t want it running into you. Oh, yes, it’s not pretty. But this rather subdued exterior design hides one of the best cabins in the business.
We all know Audi creates quality interiors across all segments, and the new Q7 follows in the same mould. The metallic accents are beautifully machined, the plastic is nicely grained and soft to touch, and the wood accents look authentic.
It’s a thoroughly modern interior, with Audi’s design language shining through clearly. Witness the full width vents, wide-spanning dashtop, and a sat-nav screen rising from the centre of the dash. The flat gear shifter sits behind a wide touch-capacitive pad through which the MMI infotainment system can be manipulated.
The centre console is massive, with cupholders sitting beside the gear lever and controller combo, plus behind that a recess for storing a wallet, phone or other sundries. The Q7’s width means there’s enough room for a double armrest in the middle, with that space being echoed in the back.
Three people across the second row bench is a cinch, and there’s heaps of legroom and headroom. Jump to the third row and it does tighten up a fair bit. Sure, adults will fit, but not terribly comfortably.
However kids will be happiest hidden back there, and as an added bonus, all five rear seats have anchor points, meaning a huge array of seating options.
Even with the third row up, there’s still 295 litres, but with it folded away, there’s a huge 770 litres available. Fold down everything and around 1955 litres of space is liberated. Like we said, the Q7 is big. But don’t worry about parking the beast – press a button and it parks itself.
To move all that bulk, Audi has shoved the familiar 3.0TDI engine under the bonnet. As the name implies, it’s a 3.0-litre, turbocharged V6 diesel which produces 160kW and 500Nm.
That means it runs with 40kW less than the 200kW Q7 (which was launched first), but more importantly, it’s down 100Nm down as well. This makes a big difference in getting the bulk off the line.
The higher rated version has a nice hustle to it, but the 160kW car has less urgency and a much more relaxed pace. That’s not to say it can’t get a move on, but it just takes longer to get there.
The 0-100kmh sprint is done in 7.3 seconds, so it’s not super slow, and certainly if you haven’t experienced the extra power, you probably wouldn’t know any different. However, the smoothness of the drivetrain is what makes the Q7 shine, no matter which version you buy.
The ZF eight-speed auto finds another application in the Q7, and like in every other car it’s fitted to, it’s fabulous. The shifts are almost imperceptible, it keeps the diesel in the thick of the torque band and responds to kickdown instantly. Or you can take manual control, but to be honest, the auto is so good it’s best to leave it to its own devices.
The book says that it returns a fuel economy figure of 5.8-litres/100km, but in real world usage, you can expect middling sevens. Another bonus is that it will tow 3500kg (braked, of course).
So, what about venturing where the tarmac runs out? After all, it sits higher, has all-wheel-drive and is labelled an SUV. Well, Audi has supplied an off-road mode, but all this does is change the stability control settings to account for a slippery surface.
At 210mm, the ground clearance is okay, but opt for the adaptive air suspension and things start to look a little better with the height in the off-road jumping to 245mm.
For most Q7 buyers, that extra height really isn’t needed, but the ride quality definitely is. You see, the steel springs are a bit too stiff and it makes the ride a bit choppy. This is negated slightly by the fitment of smaller wheels as standard, but the adaptive suspension rides like a cloud. It truly is one of the best and most comfortable suspension setups on sale at the moment.
If there’s one recommendation we can make, it’s ditch the standard springs and spend the money on getting the air suspension.
The 160kW version misses out on a bit more flashy stuff like the Virtual Cockpit, a nicer climate control system and the ambient lighting which imparts a beautiful glow to the cabin.
But as far as travelling in comfort goes, you can hardly do better than the Q7. For a machine to cover our vast country it needs to be both hardy and cosseting, and the Q7 is both. You’ll emerge refreshed from any trip you embark on.
But the privilege of owning one isn’t exactly cheap. The 160kW which we tested here starts at $96,855, while the higher specced and more powerful 200kW version is only a bit more at $104,955. If you can afford to save up an extra eight grand, you’ll definitely be better off in the more powerful car, but just bear in mind the extra cost for the suspension will have to be factored in.
Either way, you’ll be getting a luxurious, spacious and practical machine that’s built like a bank vault but feels like a five-star hotel. It’s certainly the largest four-ringed car, but it’s arguably one of the best.