Audi Q7 3.0 TDI Quattro
BiggerI is always better, right? We drove Audi’s new Q7 for a week to find out.
If bigger really is always better probably depends on who you ask so let’s keep our minds out of the gutter and firmly pinned on automobiles.
With global trends of dwindling resources and heavier traffic, rising taxes and fuel bills, it’s no wonder Audi decided to shove its Q7 flagship SUV into the gym.
The first generation of this huge soft-roader launched in 2005, in the twilight of a time when the world was drunk on excess.
Shortly after its introduction and partly fuelled by the global recession, even the Q7's target American market started buying smaller and more efficient cars. Pick-ups excluded, naturally.
In defence of the original Q7, there wasn’t much to rival it for seven-seater spaciousness. The downside of this generosity was its noticeable bulk which topped Audi’s to-do list for gen two.
The old car’s modular platform “MLB” was further enhanced to “MLB2", which also hosts other luxury SUV’S from the VWAG stable.
Looking at the white press car we were handed for a week, the slightly tauter vehicle shows Audi’s sharper design lines and angular proportions as opposed to its lumpen forefather.
Personally I wouldn’t describe the old Q7 as ugly but this new one manages to hide its size very well. Good job, Audi.
Ditto for the super-size interior with its array of fancy gadgets. The new Virtual Cockpit (digital instruments, a N$9,400 option) and the latest-generation MMI Touch infotainment system are integrated into a classy cockpit with superb craftsmanship and luxury materials. Our test car also featured sumptuous halfsuede, half-leather seats and an optional third row.
A tiny point of criticism was the steeper learning curve most testers experienced with this newer MMI system – various options and sub-menus weren’t as intuitively placed as before.
The user interface seems more responsive though and I hasten to add that any new owner just needs a wee bit of practice to master its operation.
The new Audi Q7 is available with a 2-litre four-pot or this 3litre turbo- Diesel V6 churning out 183kw or 600Nm to all four wheels (Quattro) via a smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox to reach a top speed of 225km/h or hit 100km/h in 6.3 seconds. Our GPS testing equipment spat out a Gti-scaring 6.63 seconds to a hundred kays an hour.
Another test I subjected this car to was mild off-roading of the farm / veld variety; which it aced. Excellent sound damping joins the adaptive air suspension (N$32,000 extra) for excellent ride comfort and stability. The only real drawback is the car’s sizable body which you don’t want to scratch.
That also applies to the Q7’s use around town, as illustrated by one of our testers when she had a meeting in the city centre and nervously asked “don’t we have another car?”
The Q7 is big. It’s amazingly easy to drive and feels quite light on its feet but we urge any potential owners to order every available parking aid option.
One thing I wanted to yank out of the car was its auto- parking brake. Although selectable, this bothersome nanny comes on when you least expect it. In slow traffic. While parking. Or when crawling into your messy garage. Added to the grabby brakes (at low speeds), it’s probably just a safety net between the Q7’s heft and inexperienced drivers.
Does that mean that this huge car is a pointless, flashy, gross ego extension? Maybe for some but we found the new Audi Q7’s calling through a combination of many factors.
Take one long journey, throw in country roads in varying states of disrepair, add a dash of dirt or rain, mix with at least four tall adults and blend until happy.
Yes, there are cheaper, smaller and more efficient ways to travel but if you like to partake in big trips with many people of the big variety, an Audi Q7 will be just what you need. Its smooth V6 even sounds good and can be relatively fuel- efficient - Audi claims 6.3L/ 100km while our average for the 2-ton behemoth came to just under nine.
The privilege of driving Audi’s biggest car will set you back at least N$980,000 without spaceage options. So it isn’t just about size, it’s how well you use it...