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Driven: 2022 Audi SQ7. Image by Audi.

Driven: 2022 Audi SQ7
Now with a petrol engine up front, the high-performance Q7 is shockingly thirsty, but still rather likeable.

   



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2022 Audi SQ7

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The SQ7 sits neatly at the top of the Audi Q7 range, lording it over the diesel and hybrid hoi-polloi with its massive V8 engine and improved handling. Diesel was once the fuel of choice, offering mountainous torque without crippling the economy figures, but times have changed. Diesel is a dirty word these days, so the latest-generation SQ7 runs on petrol. We decided to find out what difference it has made.

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2022 Audi SQ7 Quattro
Price: £82,555 (£85,635 as tested)
Engine: 4.0-litre, turbocharged V8 petrol
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Power: 507hp
Torque: 770Nm
Emissions: 277g/km
Economy: 23.2mpg
0-62mph: 4.1 seconds
Top speed: 155mph
Boot space: 705 litres

Styling

The SQ7 builds on the standard Q7 styling with subtle additions, so the overall look is much the same. At a glance, you notice the bigger grille of the latest-generation Q7 and the chiselled flanks, which give it quite a handsome look from the rear. Add big 21-inch alloy wheels, purposeful quad exhausts and chrome-effect door mirror caps, and it looks really quite smart. Just avoid the hideous glossy black plastic trim of the Black Edition and Vorsprung versions.

Interior

Audi interiors are legendary, and with good reason. Few car manufacturers, except perhaps sister brand Porsche, can make a car feel so solid and substantial inside, then trim it all with such high-quality materials. With the Q7 Ė and, by extension, the SQ7 Ė Audi has hit the nail on the head again. Everything feels chunky and solid and robust, but luxurious with it. The materials are excellent, from the leather upholstery to the chrome on the dashboard.

Thankfully, Audi has avoided making too many tweaks to the standard Q7 cabin with the SQ7, foregoing carbon-fibre trim and bucket seats in favour of some subtle, leather-wrapped sports seats and classy black trim (as long as you can keep it clean). You get a flat-bottomed steering wheel with perforated leather, some black roof lining and some S badges, but thatís pretty much it.

Well, aside from the tech, that is. Much of the SQ7ís on-board technology is carried over from the Q7, so you get two big touchscreen instrument displays and a digital instrument cluster. All three are exemplary, with sharp displays and quick responses to your inputs. Perhaps the lower screen is a little clunky, and all three might be called distracting at times, but for what they are, theyíre brilliant.

Practicality

The SQ7 is just as practical as the Q7 on which itís based, so you still get a boot measuring more than 700 litres Ė assuming you fold down the sixth and seventh seats. Interior space is just as plentiful as the luggage capacity, so thereís no problem carrying four adults, and comfort in the back row isnít as compromised as you might expect. It wonít do for grown-ups on long journeys, but kids will be perfectly happy back there.

Performance

With a 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine up front, the SQ7 has long promised two things: speed and thirst. That turbocharged engine produces a massive 507hp, which is sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The result is mind-bending performance, with 0-62mph taking just over four seconds. That's Porsche 911 speed in a high-riding, seven-seat SUV.

That's impressive performance, and it's certainly an improvement on the old diesel engine that used to power the SQ7. However, it's much less economical than its predecessor, returning 23.2mpg on the official economy test. We achieved that kind of economy on long drives without trying, so those with a gentle right foot might improve on that during motorway drives. But around town, the SQ7 will be so thirsty you might as well burn £20 notes instead.

At least the Audi's V8 sounds better than a small bonfire, with a muffled woofle emanating from the exhausts. The noise is really well judged, with a little snarl when it starts and a bark when you prod the throttle, but the engine is usually refined and hushed at everyday speeds.

Ride & Handling

Despite its bulk, the SQ7 isnít just fast in a straight line. In its sportiest settings, the big Audi doesnít hide its enormity per se, but it does a very good job of dealing with it. The steering is heavy and direct, but the response to your commands is almost instantaneous, and while you can feel the carís weight shifting around, it rolls far less than you might expect. Donít get us wrong Ė this is not a Cayenne-beater Ė but itís remarkably close.

The trade-off is a slightly stiff ride. The SQ7 never feels flustered or unsettled, but it slams into bumps slightly more than youíd like from a big, effortless SUV. The high-speed ride is better, particularly in the more comfort-orientated settings, but that doesnít help on bobbly back roads where the suspension just feels slack and disinterested. Itís better to go for a more balanced setting, although that isnít perfect for either ride or handling.

Value

SQ7 prices start at £78,060, which makes the 4.0-litre V8 version about £20,000 more expensive than the standard car. That's a lot of money, but you do get considerably more power. You also get to spend more at the pumps. To make up for that, Audi has fitted lots of extra kit, including the adaptive suspension, Super Sports seats and LED headlights with high-beam assist. Not that the Q7 is what you'd call Spartan.

Perhaps more importantly, the SQ7 is relatively cheap compared with similarly powerful rivals. The V8 Porsche Cayenne Turbo comes in at £110,000, while the new Range Rover Sport P530 First Edition would cost £116,190, were Land Rover taking orders. Given the Aston Martin DBX and Bentley Bentayga are both considerably more expensive, perhaps the SQ7 is quite reasonably priced.

Verdict

The SQ7 is an impressive beast, merging the qualities of a seven-seat family bus with those of a luxury saloon, a capable 4x4 and a sporty hatchback. It isnít perfect by any stretch of the imagination Ė the economy is dismal, the ride is a little lumpy and it would probably be more compelling in diesel form Ė but unusually for an Audi, it has charm. The V8 is fabulous and the handling is impressive for something so big. Itís also smartly styled and beautifully made Ė all of which are qualities weíd continue to admire as we made our way to the Porsche dealer.



James Fossdyke - 8 Jul 2022



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