AUDI Q7 REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Premium luxury SUV five-door wagon
Fuel Economy (claimed): 11.3 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 11.8 l/100km
Audi’s first foray into the SUV market back in 2007 was the Q7. It was, and is, a simply massive vehicle that apes the design features of its sleeker Audi stablemates, but offers space enough for seven.
The Q7 V12 6.0D is a late addition to the range, and tops off the four-strong model line-up – three of which are diesel.
But for this one, the V12 monster, at nearly a quarter of a million dollars, only very few need apply.
Quality: With that pricetag, you would expect quality to be high, and the big Audi doesn't disappoint. Fit and finish is a constant and superb throughout: solid doors, tight shutlines, damped hinges and soft touch surfaces broken up by carbon-fibre and wood trim.
Comfort: Cosseting seats throughout, the cabin of the Q7 is luxuriously appointed and comfortable – in each of the three rows.
Legroom in the third row is limited, it's not really for adults, but space – and lots of it – is one of the Q7's selling points. Second-row sitters however have ample room for knees and ankles.
Equipment: For your considerable dollars, you get a huge 14-speaker surround stereo linked to sat-nav, parking camera (front and rear) and Bluetooth, cruise, four-zone air-con, in-door rear blinds, and standard collapsible third row seats.
The steering wheel is multi-function with power adjustment and shift paddles. Outside, fog lamps sit underneath active bi-Xenons, standard 21-inch alloys, tow bar and roof rails.
The only options are a different 21-inch alloy-wheel design, an active side-assist warning system for blind spots and lane departure, and tinted double-glazed glass.
Storage: With seven seats, obviously the boot space can be compromised. However the rear row fold almost completely flat and the access to the boot is unhindered.
There is no full-sized spare – the skinny space saver will have to suffice. Not cool for an SUV/4WD with hard-to-find 21-inch rubber!
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: At the wheel it’s impossible not to be aware that you are piloting a very large and heavy car.
At just over five metres in length, nearly two metres wide and weighing a hefty 2665kg, it’s a good thing that there is simply masses of torque lurking under the toe.
The 90-degree twin-turbocharged V12 churns out an electronically limited 1000Nm from just 1750rpm through to 3250rpm, with power peaking at 368kW at 3750rpm.
This, and the all-wheel-drive Quattro system, propels the Q7’s pork to 100 km/h from standstill in just 5.5 seconds. And remember, it’s a diesel…
Refinement: You can haul the Q7 off the mark, or drive it smoothly and sedately in the traffic via the six-speed sports automatic (a stronger gearbox than the eight-speed).
The engine makes its sparkless presence known on start up or when standing next to the bonnet. But, from inside, the quality damping of the cabin, and having those 12-cylinders pumping in sequence, it is easy to forget it runs on diesel fuel.
Better still, and remarkable for such a heavy powerful car, sipping a realistic fuel figure close to the claimed 11.3 l/100km.
Suspension: Audi’s Quattro AWD system, standard adaptive suspension and a higher road-clearance, is matched to an active torque transfer system, active centre-diff and locking diffs.
In English, this means that power is sent to the wheels with traction. For off-roading (are you crazy, you just paid $270k-plus for the thing?), the diffs can be locked.
Braking: There’s an up-rated brake package to deal with the laws of physics, but such is the weight of the car, the V12 Q7 feels ponderous under hard braking (although it’s happy enough to do it time and again).
The pedal is also a bit touchy and a tad high.
ANCAP rating: 5 Stars
Safety features: Front, side and curtain airbags, front load limiter/pretensioner seatbelts, rear pretensioner seatbelts, front active headrests, Brake Assist, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Traction Control, Electronic Stability Control, Hill Descent Control, Roll-over control, front and reverse parking sensors and cameras.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years with roadside assist
Service costs: Check with your Audi dealer prior to purchase.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
BMW X6 ($149,700) - A stunning 300kW/600Nm twin-turbo petrol drivetrain, with great handling and now offering a centre seat in the second row. But little room for much else, and it’s hard to see past the wank factor. (see X6 reviews)
Mercedes GL500 ($173,200) - A truly enormous car, and lacking the modern style of the Q7, though very capable on and off road. But its 285kW/530Nm from a petrol V8 that’s hauling 2445kg around is a thirsty proposition. (see GL-Class reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The Q7 6.0D, Audi’s astonishing AWD ‘luxo-battlestar’, is one that only a fortunate few (willing to spend a small fortune) will ever sample.
It is top-shelf motoring, the Q7. It has a simply amazing powertrain that can fling it away from a standing start to highway speeds in mere heartbeats.
It’s huge, it feels about the same size as a cruise liner, and it’s not for everyone. But it’s hard not to be impressed.