AUDI’S BIG Q7 ISN’T AS BIG AS IT WAS, BUT ONLY ON THE OUTSIDE. In fact, though the new model is smaller externally, it is actually bigger inside... where it matters, arguably, for a luxury seven-seat SUV.
It went from whale-size to sensible porpoise late last year. And is the more-appealing for it.
Now there is a new entry-model to the range, the Audi Q7 160kW. Those numbers signify a slightly detuned V6 turbo-diesel – down from 200kW – but with a demonstrably adequate 500Nm of torque moving the show along.
That hefty torque figure is also down (from 600Nm) on the up-spec Q7, which is, without putting too fine a point on it, a rocketship.
The 160kW model might not be quite ‘a rocketship’, but it has winged heels on the road, corners like it isn’t an SUV, and is an effortless long distance tourer.
It is, however, pricey at $96,300 plus on-roads.
Vehicle style: Large premium SUV
Price: $96,300 (plus on-road costs)
Engine/transmission: 160kW/500Nm 3.0 litre turbo-diesel 6cyl | 8sp automatic
Fuel consumption claimed: 5.8 l/100km; tested: 8.97 l/100km
It has been 10 years since launch of the first Q7, and, among cashed-up buyers, it has been a strong performer for Audi since.
But with the arrival of the new model, sales are really gathering some steam. This year, thus far, sales are up by 94 percent YTD versus Q1 2015.
Those target buyers, families with household incomes of $200k-plus, are clearly seeing something they like when they gaze upon the new Q7.
This Q7 shares the brilliant quattro 4WD system of the Q7 two-model range, shares the 3.0 litre TDI turbo-diesel engine and eight-speed sports automatic (with paddle shifters), but is detuned, we know not why, and has a few less high tech features.
Hence, the slightly lower price. The difference between the two Q7 models is just on $8000 on the road: $105,342 driveaway, against $113,322 driveaway (Victorian pricing).
Should you buy this one then, and pocket the saving for the kids’ blazers?
- Standard features: , adaptive cruise control, leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats with memory on driver's side, electrically-folding third row seats, dual-zone climate control, parking sensors, park assist, rain sensing wipers, dusk sensing bi-xenon headlamps, keyless entry and ignition
- Infotainment: 8.3 inch touchscreen display, MMI navigation plus, 10-speaker audio system with single-disc AM/FM/DAB+ also CD/DVD/SD headunit, USB audio inputs, 10GB onboard music storage, rear seat entertainment, Bluetooth with audio streaming and Apple and Android Smartplay
- Cargo capacity: 295 litres (all rows in place), 770 litres, third row folded, 1955 litres, second and third rows folded
We have written enough about the interior of the new Q7. You can read our earlier review here.
The opinions expressed in that review remain: you will love being in this car and will enjoy the comfort, the serene quality of the ride and the superb fit and finish.
There is nothing here that jars or works poorly or is not of premium quality and feel. It may be ‘safely’ styled, but is nonetheless a benchmark.
From the wheel, the ergonomics are first class. There is a robust ‘engineered’ feel to the dials and controls and the functions behind the 8.3-inch tablet-style touchscreen are easily navigated and easily understood.
This model misses out on the ‘virtual cockpit’ which plants a super-wide configurable screen under the binnacle ahead of the driver, but there is little else missing.
Getting in and out from any of the three rows is simple, the seats slide and tip effortlessly (with buttons inside the rear doors and replicated in the boot), the second and third rows can be folded dead-flat, and the electric tailgate can be opened with a ‘kick’ or ‘swipe’ below the bumper.
There are ISOFIX tether points and the doors open ‘square’ to make belting-in easier.
The boot-space behind the third row is good for a couple of sets of golf clubs or good-sized travel luggage; fold the third row down flat and there is a cavern there (770 litres to the window line).
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 160kW/500Nm 3.0 litre TDI turbo-diesel
- Transmission: 8-spd Tiptronic sports automatic, 4WD with asymmetric torque split and self-locking centre differential
- Performance: 0-100km/h: 7.3 seconds
- Suspension: front, independent five-link axle with aluminium transverse link and anti-roll bar; rear, five-link axle with rearward track rod and anti-roll bar
- Steering: electromechanical with speed-dependent power-assistance
- Towing capacity:
Is there 40kW missing? You would hardly know it. This new 160kW Q7 has an effortless and imperious rush of power should you ‘plant the foot’.
And, like its 200kW slightly dandied-up ‘bro, is a very brisk point-to-point tourer.
Sure, it skips to 100km/h in 7.3 seconds, nearly a second slower than the 200kW version (at 6.5 seconds), but off the mark you would barely notice.
Only in rolling acceleration does the massive 600Nm of torque of the more powerful, more expensive Q7, hold a noticeable advantage – it surges at speed like being lifted by the gods – but the 160kW turbo-diesel isn’t shamed by any measure.
Nor is its eight-speed Tiptronic automatic ever found snoozing. You can shift using the paddles at the wheel, but it ‘zinks’ through the gears when left to its own devices and will rev smoothly and without complaint to its 4750rpm peak power output.
When overtaking, these big German SUVs can simply bolt.
And that’s another thing about the Q7 range. At the wheel you will need to keep reminding yourself you’re driving something shaped vaguely like a carton of fine ale. Because this Q7, and the 200kW version we tested some months back, goes around corners like a warmed sports wagon.
This one doesn’t have the air-suspension, it’s a steel spring set-up but a classy one. And the way the nose sits flat and hunts through an apex when pushing things along belies the size and weight and shape of the Q7.
Sure it leans more than a hatch or sedan when the cornering forces begin to load up, but it never feels loose and has phenomenal grip.
Helping things, no doubt, is the Quattro AWD with self-locking centre differential and torque vectoring capable of sending up to 70 percent of drive to the front wheels and 85 percent to the rear.
Also helping is the ‘relatively’ light body, now 41 percent aluminium and no less than 240kg lighter than the previous model (two fat friends lighter).
There are selectable driving modes, dynamic through normal (and an off-road mode), but these operate on the steering, shift mapping and engine management only, leaving the suspension to the one comfortable setting.
In off-road mode there is hill descent control and the steering becomes heavier but more settled, making it easier to pick a line on a rough track. We put it over a stretch of corrugated and potholed gravel, but hardly an off-road excursion.
Lastly, because this is an expensive car – though the cheaper of the Q7s – you will expect the very best in dynamic and passive safety aids, and it doesn’t disappoint.
ANCAP: The 2016 Audi Q7 has scored 5-Stars under ANCAP testing
Safety features: The Q7 160kW comes with eight airbags, stability control, ABS, autonomous emergency braking, EBD and brake assist as standard.
There's also active lane assist, attention assist, high beam assist (which creates a blank spot to avoid dazzling oncoming drivers - and also senses tail-lights), traffic jam assist (which will steer and brake the car between zero and 65km/h in slow moving traffic), rear cross-traffic assist and turn assist, which, when the right indicator is on, uses the camera and radar to sense oncoming traffic, and will apply the brakes should there be risk of a collision.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER:
At the price of the Q7, you’re looking at BMW's X5 30d, the Mercedes-Benz GLE 350d and Range Rover Sport TDV6.
On-road performance, interior luxury and features are comparable, as are prices. You might also look at the Lexus RX 450h for a swift, beautifully-built hybrid SUV experience, though at the expense of seven-seat capability.
VERDICT | OVERALL
Audi’s Q7 has the formula nailed. Powerful, nimble, roomy, comfortable, and quiet, the Q7 is “the full bottle”.
It is, no doubt, beyond the reach of most families struggling with school fees and mortgages, but for those lucky enough to make the leap, they will find a satisfying and enjoyable family express in the Q7.
We’d recommend they’d choose this model, the 160kW version, and put the $8000 saved to good use elsewhere.
They will barely be aware of the errant kilowatts and missing Newton metres, even should they drive both models side-by-side, but they will notice the beautiful build quality, serene luxury and effortless performance.
Me? It’s out of my range, but this 160kW Q7 is a very appealing car. Inside and out, it just seems to do things right.