The new Q7 is becoming a more common sight but even now, after having spent a whole week with Audi’s large luxury SUV, I still get the impression that the show’s over. The first generation Q7 was bold, large, in your face and unmistakingly Audi, yet the new one is subdued, and almost self-effacing.
It could be the residual effect of seeing the old Q7 practically unchanged for nearly a decade that has created this impression. It is clear that Audi’s design language has evolved tremendously, but one important fact remains: The Q7 is as good as ever. In this case, much like all recent Audis actually, the Q7 has fully matured and has no time for games anymore. It’s got a job to do.
In fact, the Q7 suffers no compromises despite the current lack of a diesel engine. Audi’s impressive TFSI turbocharged petrol engine almost makes up forget that more off-the-line oomph was once possible. The new 2017 Audi Q7 is solid and satisfying.
There is no replacement for boost
While we wait for the 435-hp, turbo-diesel 4.0-litre V8 with next year’s SQ7, the Q7 moves along nicely with its 333-hp, supercharged 3.0-litre V6. A 252-hp, turbocharged 2.0-litre TFSI four-cylinder is also available. The eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission is mated to Audi’s legendary quattro AWD system.
The Q7 has a cocky demeanour to it, or maybe it’s just me. Despite its 2240-kg (4928-lb.) weight, the big truck will still effortlessly crush the 0-100-km/h sprint in only 5.7 seconds. Let’s not forget that the new Q7 is 115 kg (253 lbs.) less than old. If riding high in a gorgeous SUV adorned with the four rings wasn’t enough, this kind of power sent me over the top.
The supercharger keeps things lively from idle and safeguards against any drop in power throughout the power band. The eight-speed ‘box revels in its job with seamless shifts. The Q7, like most Audis, features a drive select button that toggles through various drive modes. Most of my time with the vehicle was spent in Comfort. Unlike the R8, which drops an atom bomb every time the throttle was shoved, the Q7 resisted the request for a kick-down unless in Auto or Dynamic. If you’re an aggressive driver like some guy I know, best to program the Individual mode with powertrain in Dynamic and ride, in Comfort.
quattro of the road
Such unflappable confidence comes from the way the Q7 handles itself. It’s as though the last decade of collective driving experience and engineering has been infused into the new truck—nothing, or nearly, troubles it.
Set in Comfort, the Q7’s damping filters out the majority of the road’s surface, but the vehicle’s sporty nature cannot be ignored. Repeated ugly and sharp undulations are transmitted to the cabin, disturbing the otherwise serene environment. The electronically controlled air suspension with continuously variable dampers’ main duties are handling and stability. The Q7 scarcely leans ever, be it under hard braking, accelerating of from side to side.
Grip and traction are assured at all times thanks to quattro AWD. The self-locking centre differential does all the thinking for the driver and works to enhance the driving experience. 60% of the power heads to rear and the remainder, to the front. When things get really ugly, up to 85% of the power can be sent to the rear axle or, alternatively, up to 70% to the front.
Knowing these details is what fuels the feeling of invincibility. The Q7 is just enough show, and all go, no matter what.
Speaking of show
The showpiece with the new Q7 is not the massive grille, LED headlights, sweet 20” wheels or gracious powerful lines—it’s all about the large cabin. I’ve spent many hours in a Range Rover, BMW X5, Mercedes GLS and Cadillac Escalade, and not one of the aforementioned trucks comes close to pleasing the senses, as does the Audi. Perhaps Bentley’s Bentayga would, but I’ve yet to stomach its styling, or even drive one.
The array of high-class materials, gorgeously integrated controls and overall presentation are second to none. The steering wheel, the closest item to the driver, is not overburdened with buttons and the centre console makes good use of the available space with sufficiently large junk bins.
I especially love the dashboard-wide vents that remind me of a sports car’s front grille. Audi’s virtual cockpit is completely customizable and will display any and all the information the driver desires. All matters of important commands such as HVAC are easily reached and thus do not require the system to boot up like some of its competitors.
It then gets even better when the sun drops below the horizon. The Interior Ambient Lighting Package plus elevates the mood and caresses the eyes with beautiful accent illumination and colors—I’ve never experienced a more intricate blending of textures and lighting effects.
To cap it all off, my $85,000 Technik tester included the zen-like and supportive massaging seats. And if that wasn’t enough, the optional Bang & Olufsen advanced 3D sound system caressed the ears while my lower back was being worked on.
Audi Q7 and friends
Audi’s big ‘ute plays in a large and fierce category. I named a few would-be competitors earlier and we can add the Acura MDX, Infiniti QX60, Volvo XC90 and Porsche Cayenne. In my opinion, the third row, although accessible, plays a minor role in selecting the Q7 over any of the others—it turns into a nice-to-have, nothing more.
The thing with the Audi Q7 is that it cannot be the wrong choice. As the potential buyer, after a test drive and signing on the dotted line, you’ll not wonder if you should have purchased one of the others. Rather, you’ll likely think you should have got one sooner. As you tackle your daily commute, the Q7’s assertive and imperturbable behaviour will go to your head. Be warned.