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First drive: Audi Q7 3.0 TDI. Image by Audi.

First drive: Audi Q7 3.0 TDI
All-new second-generation of Audi's largest SUV driven.

 



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Audi Q7 3.0 TDI

4 4 4 4 4

In order to achieve and surpass the 500,000-plus global sales of the first-generation Q7 that launched in 2005, Audi has made the Mk2 broadly similar in appeal, in that it's well-equipped, totes seven seats and is hugely refined in all areas. Shame about the gawky looks and slightly dull driving experience, though.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Audi Q7 3.0 TDI 272 S line
Pricing: 53,835; Q7 starts from 50,340
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 diesel
Transmission: four-wheel drive, eight-speed automatic
Body style: five-door, seven-seat SUV
CO2 emissions: 153g/km (VED Band G, 180)
Combined economy: 47.9mpg
Top speed: 145mph
0-62mph: 6.5 seconds
Power: 272hp from 3,250- to 4,250rpm
Torque: 600Nm from 1,500- to 3,000rpm

What's this?

An all-new Audi Q7, the first totally overhauled version of the big seven-seat SUV since its arrival a decade ago. A lot of the 2015 Q7's offering remains broadly similar to the old car, but while you'll be hard-pressed to discern a huge difference when driving it, Audi has decided to give the exterior a striking, angular appearance. We're not sure we like it, although it is an improvement on its corpulent predecessor. Nevertheless, there's something jarring about the wheels, which could do with a bit more width, a bit more track and a bit more presence in the wheel arches, while that enormous 'singleframe' grille up front doesn't sit comfortably. Familial styling themes are all well and good, but the Q7 doesn't seem to have a strong visual identity of its own, with more than a dash of A6 Avant about it from many angles. You should all know the modern mantra by now, though: dark colours, bigger alloys, sports specification - all of these things make the Q7 look better, so a 20-inch-shod gunmetal grey S line is well worth having.

You can order an Audi Q7 now, but there is just one engine on offer to start with, a 3.0 TDI V6 with 272hp and 600Nm. Joining it soon after will be... a 3.0 TDI V6, with 'just' 218hp and 500Nm to return slightly better green figures of 52.3mpg and 144g/km CO2. Both are available in two trims, SE and S line, but there's only one transmission in the form of the Tiptronic eight-speed automatic, so it's a fairly simple choice for the British Q7 buyer. We've gone for the top dog here, which starts at 53,835, but even the SE is well equipped as standard, with all manner of technology available on the options list - including four-wheel steer. The entry ticket makes it quite a bit more expensive than a Volvo XC90 D5, which starts at 45,550, although admittedly the Audi is considerably more powerful than the 225hp/470Nm Swede. Question is, does the Ingolstadt product prove to be the new class-leader?

How does it drive?

Given this is another Audi interior right out of the top drawer, there's no hardship in being behind the wheel of the Q7, especially if you don't plan on driving fast. The cabin is as wonderfully put-together and finished as you'd expect of Ingolstadt, with the Volkswagen Passat-like chrome line running the width of the dash through the air vents a particularly nice touch. As is the sensationally good 12.3-inch TFT 'Virtual Cockpit', as seen in the Mk3 Audi TT. Criminally, this is a cost option on all UK Q7s, whereas in other markets it is standard fit on higher-spec models - it ought to just be the norm in Audis from now on. Regardless of this gripe, the seating position is commanding and comfortable, and visibility all round is excellent so ergonomically the Q7 is sound.

We need to point out that all Q7s on the launch were fitted with another cost option, adaptive air suspension, so we can't comment on the ride on passive springs and dampers. However, unless the air 'springs' are extortionately expensive, we'd recommend fitting them because even on 20s, the S line's ride was superb. The balance between body roll and compliance is about spot on, the Audi mashing all surfaces into one gloss-smooth finish, whilw the cabin is a quiet, relaxing place to spend time, because the Q7 masks external noise contributors very effectively. For the target buyer, this super-serene cruising attitude will be enough for them to mentally tick the box marked 'Job Done'.

What disappoints is that the Q7's tantalising on-paper spec never quite translates into anything scintillating. It's up to 325kg lighter than the old model, which supposedly benefits everything - braking ability, handling, economy, emissions and performance - but you wouldn't really know it from the safely-safely set-up Audi has foisted upon it. Granted, no seven-seat SUV is going to be a sports car in the curves, but there are vehicles that will entertain their drivers far more in this segment, while even the Volvo XC90 (about the Audi's closest analogue) is a little more invigorating than this. There's a lot of grip and a lot of poise up to a point, meaning rapid cross-country pace is not out of the question, but understeer is never too far away and everything is done at the front of the car; oversteer is of course irrelevant in a toff-roader, but if the Audi people will insist on calling the Q7 'sporty', they might have at least engineered in some neutrality to the Q7's chassis. They haven't. It's therefore a bit of a damp squib dynamically. And neither 3.0 TDI even feels that quick in a straight line, 600Nm or not.

Verdict

Our moans about the Audi not being hugely exciting on a twisting back road are almost certainly irrelevant to the average Q7 customer, so really this is a major success from the German marque. Stuffed to the gunwales with technology, featuring a spacious, comfy and intelligent interior that - even by Audi's lofty standards - is remarkable, and possessed of smooth day-to-day driving manners, the second-gen Q7 will no doubt sell in droves. For us, there are better cars in this class no matter whether you prioritise driving excitement or comfort, but that's unlikely to deter people who want the four rings on the bonnet of their giant SUV. They surely won't be disappointed by the supremely competent Q7.

3 3 3 3 3 Exterior Design

5 5 5 5 5 Interior Ambience

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Passenger Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Driving Dynamics

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 18 May 2015









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2015 Audi Q7. Image by Audi.
 

2015 Audi Q7. Image by Audi.
 

2015 Audi Q7. Image by Audi.
 

2015 Audi Q7. Image by Audi.
 

2015 Audi Q7. Image by Audi.
 

2015 Audi Q7. Image by Audi.
 

2015 Audi Q7. Image by Audi.
 

2015 Audi Q7. Image by Audi.
 

2015 Audi Q7. Image by Audi.
 






 

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