Audi Q7 3.0 TDI
What's it about
Audi is renowned for stylish, yet subtle, designs. However, its Q7 SUV is as in-your-face as one can get. It has "stuff you" written all over its curvaceous and whale-like body.
The mammoth Q7 is perhaps more Yank than German too, as Audi especially has the lucrative US SUV market in its aim. It has all the right elements to be a proper Yank tank too - it has presence, it is bold and it is big.
Furthermore the Q7 is available with seven seats and dripping with typical soft-road genes. In short, it is a station wagon on steroids.
If you ditch the oversize wheel arches and big wheels, the Q7 could have just been another Audi Avant.
Audi's marketing slogan is that it has invented a vehicle for its superb quattro all-wheel-drive setup. Does this mean that the Q7 can boldly go where no other Audi have not gone before? No!
To be brutally honest, the Q7 can't do much more than any of its siblings featuring quattro. But it deals quite well with climbing pavements!
It certainly doesn't have vorsprung when it comes to 4x4ing as it's not the kind of vehicle that wants to dirty its tyres in the rough and tough. But it is well-built and features clever engineering.
If you buy a Q7 you do so for its posh (and brash) image rather than for off-road ability.
Inside the Q7
If you are familiar with Audis, you will feel right at home in the Q7. Its dashboard layout is similar to that of the A6 and A8, while the perceivable build quality is as usual top notch.
Of course there is a long list of standard and optional bells and whistles. There are gizmos such as Audi's MMI control system, which operates features such as the audio system, car setup and the (optional) satellite navigation.
You can also spec the Q7 also with a rear-view camera which kicks in if you put the big vehicle in reverse gear. Another option is an electrical-operated tailgate.
There is no conventional handbrake and Audi gave the Q7 a Merc-like foot-operated parking brake.
The standard Audi Q7 leaves the assembly line as a 5-seater. In this case the seat bench in the second row is divided 60:40; as option both elements can be moved back by 100 mm to give passengers more legroom.
The 7-seat version has two seats in the third row which is more suitable for children. These seats can be folded flat on the loading floor if necessary.
As a 5-seater the Audi Q7 has a standard luggage area of 775 litres. Even if all three seat rows are used, a very respectable luggage capacity of 330 litres remains.
Under the skin
The 3.0 TDI engine is nothing new and produces 171 kW and 500 Nm, with peak torque available from as low as 1 750 r/min.
Its quattro system is the same as in other Audis giving the Q7 full-time four-wheel drive with a 40:60 torque-split to the front-rear axles under normal driving conditions.
There are no low-ratio gears which means the Q7 is like the BMW X5 engineered to be a road car rather than a hardcore 4x4.
Obviously the Q7 will be more than able to cope with wet or dirt roads while it will most definitely be great for towing.
It is also available with self-levelling air suspension with three modes: dynamic, automatic and comfort. Naturally automatic mode is for all-round purposes while dynamic mode lowers the ride height by 15mm.
Furthermore the ride height automatically lowers when you get up to speed for improved dynamics whereas the off-road mode gives the Q7 ground clearance of up to 240mm.
This is a vehicle that will never allow you, or other road users, to forget its size. It is 5086mm long, 1983mm wide, 1737mm tall and has a weight of almost 2.5 tonnes.
The 3.0 TDI diesel engine comes across as quite potent and is more than capable of pulling this beast forward.
The Q7 feels sizeable too, and it is sometimes quite a job to steer the Q7 through narrow streets or city traffic. But you do get used to Q7's gigantic dimensions quite quick and it doesn't take much effort to drive because of accurate and well-balanced steering.
Of course the driver has a great view of the road thanks to the vehicle's height and the vast glass areas.
It responds well to the driver's input too and it never feels as if this is the kind of vehicle that intimidates the driver despite its size.
If you take the Q7 on dirt roads it won't quite bite in the dust. It is quite capable in such road conditions if your raise the suspension and because power is distributed between the wheels where needed.
Audi also managed to make the Q7 agile on the open road and you will be surprised with how nimble it can be.
Perceivable build quality
Ease of driving
Doesn't make much sense as a vehicle
The Q7 is one of those vehicles people will either rate highly or just slate it. But the Q7 seems to go be quite a hit with the South African rich as it is doing well on the sales chart.
It is more than able to rival premium soft-roaders such as the BMW X5 and Volvo XC90. Also, Audi is at least honest that it didn't develop the Q7 to be a full-on 4x4 but rather to act as a versatile and lifestyle-oriented vehicle with good on-road dynamics. And the Q7 lives up to this aim.
However, in general the Q7 still doesn't make a helluva lot of sense and is a bit much for some. In short, it is actually just a station wagon with some muscle to tackle challenging road conditions every now and again. It is the über wagon!