KERRY, Ireland—On the super-tight roads that make up the Ring of Kerry in Ireland, the remains of mirror caps here and there suggest frequent clashes between cars rented by tourists and sightseeing buses. The landscape is breathtaking, but the drive is far from relaxing as you must often steer to avoid incoming vehicles or stop completely to let them pass.
Shockingly, this is the location Audi chose to get us acquainted with the big new 2020 Q7, which benefits from a major cosmetic and technological update in order to put up a better fight against the equally new BMW X7 and Mercedes-Benz GLS.
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With the Q8 now serving as Audi’s flagship SUV, it’s no surprise that the Q7 is getting a complete makeover. After all, both models share the same platform and mechanical components, though they are aimed at different customers.
The new Q7 sports a redesigned Singleframe grille with a thinner contour and six vertical slats, sleeker headlights and taillights (the latter connected by a chrome strip) and new rocker panels.
The 2020 Audi Q7 is 11 mm longer than its predecessor and continues to offer five- and seven-passenger configurations. Cargo capacity amounts to 865 litres with the rear seats up or 2,050 litres with the rear seats down.
Similar to the Q8, the entire cockpit is digital including a 12.3-inch gauge cluster behind the steering wheel and two colour touchscreens with haptic and acoustic feedback on the centre console, which is your hub for infotainment, climate control and other vehicle functions.
New Turbocharged Engine
In Canada, the 2020 Audi Q7 can be equipped with a pair of turbocharged engines including a 2.0-litre four-cylinder and a 3.0-litre V6, the latter replacing the supercharged V6 available on the outgoing model. Quattro all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission come standard with both.
For this media event in Ireland, only the bigger engine was put at our disposal. Torque is very linear, which makes passing a breeze in most situations. Another highlight of the new V6 is the 48-volt mild hybrid system featuring a 10-Ah lithium-ion battery and a belt alternator-starter. This allows the Q7 to coast with the engine turned off at speeds between 55 and 160 km/h for as much as 40 seconds, after which the V6 smoothly comes back on. Highway cruising becomes more efficient as a result.
The 48-volt system can be paired with an active roll stabilization technology on Q7 models equipped with the available sport air suspension. That’s exactly the configuration we tested and it delivers impressive comfort and handling through remarkable control of body movements. The other suspension systems on the menu include a conventional air suspension with no active roll stabilization and a classic setup combining steel springs with adjustable dampers.
Four-wheel steering is another option we liked because it effectively reduces the turning radius in low-speed manoeuvres by turning the rear wheels five degrees in the opposite direction of the front wheels. At higher speeds, the rear wheels turn up to two degrees in the same direction as the front wheels for increased stability.
The 2020 Audi Q7 will hit the Canadian market in the first quarter of next year and prices will be announced closer to launch, though we expect them to be similar to those of the outgoing model. The same three trim levels will be available.