Last year Audi introduced its second-generation, flagship Audi Q7 seven-seat SUV with a 200kW version of its 3.0 litre turbo diesel engine which went on to win Drive’s Car of the Year – Best Luxury SUV.
Audi recently introduced The Versatile Gent to its new Q7 price leader, which has less bells and whistles as well as 40 less kilowatts from the same 3.0 engine. The upside is it will set you back seven grand less, it’s now $96,300 +ORC but most importantly, its kept its appeal, refinement and practicality.
Immediately noticeable is how smooth the turbo-diesel engine is. It is impressively quiet and almost impossible to hear at idle and when accelerating. Another benefit of the 240-kilogram weight loss over its predecessor, is it won’t need to hang out in service stations as often, if our drive through the burbs, highways and country roads are an indication, the big 7-seater showed a very respectable 7.2L/100km.
The 40 kW deficit means it’s not quite as responsive as its brawnier sibling on open roads and passing longer vehicles takes a bit more time, but there’s not a lot in it.
That said, traipsing through the city and along freeways at the speed limit, the 160kW Q7 never felt in need of more power.
A slick new eight-speed tiptronic gearbox shifts imperceptibly, you don’t feel or hear it shifting, the only clue is the movement of the tachometer and with so many ratios, the engine is always smack in the middle of the power and torque sweet spots.
The suspension glides over road imperfections giving occupants a magic carpet ride, while delivering a planted cornering feel and no body roll, even when rapidly changing direction, thanks to Audi’s engineers lacing the Q7 with a good measure of sportiness. For a car that is big with a capital B, the Q7 impresses with its handling, stability and balance.
This latest-generation Q7 gets electromechanical power steering, with two feedback settings; Comfort, that was more restrained and Dynamic, where the feedback was quite assertive.
The Quattro all-wheel-drive system makes light work of rough terrain, including those annoying corrugated dirt roads that are dotted around the country. I doubt if many Q7 owners will go bush bashing, but it with 210mm ground clearance and hill descent control as standard, nothing much will stop it. As we discovered last year, its capability on snow and loose surfaces is remarkable.
Being a tad over 5 metres long, just on two metres wide and almost two metres high, it has an imposing road presence. Like the recently reviewed A4, the design has similarities to its predecessor but is sharper and leaner in its looks.
Inside, the refined Q7 pampers its occupants with exquisite comfort, serenity and space. The flawless finish on all surfaces is stylish, contemporary and tactile. The materials used through the cabin have a superior feel and the seats are among the most comfortable I’ve sat in for a long time. The driving position is commanding, but you don’t look down on the bonnet, more along it and all round visibility superb.
The newly developed MMI touch operation on the centre tunnel allows the driver and front passenger to write, pinch-to-zoom, or scroll through lists on the system’s large screen, giving a haptic response to the operator’s finger. There’s even intelligent text searching. The voice control system can recognise inputs of everyday language, responding to questions such as: “Where can I refuel?”
Although the standard sound system is more than adequate, notwithstanding interruptions to the digital radio coverage, music buffs might want to fork out $14,850 for the 23-speaker Bang & Olufsen blaster which delivers 1920 watts of crystal clear sound.
Unbridled luxury, excellent on and off road capability, sharp pricing, plenty of kit, muscly towing capacity and an immense interior versatility for bikes, surfboards, sports gear and seven-seat functionality make Q7 an excellent