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FI­NAL RE­PORT Home and away, it’s been a blast with 429bhp SUV

Auto Express - - Contents - Gra­ham Hope Gra­ham_hope@den­nis.co.uk Sean Car­son Chief re­viewer

Up­dates on the Audi SQ7 and Mit­subishi L200

AF­TER nearly seven months, we’ve waved farewell to our Audi SQ7 su­per-suv. And as we con­sider its re­port card, it’s fair to say there was a marked dif­fer­ence in its per­for­mance home and away – just like my foot­ball team…

Firstly, away from home, which in my case is con­gested north Lon­don. Out­side the cap­i­tal, I found the 429bhp twin­turbo gi­ant ab­so­lutely bril­liant.

On the mo­tor­way, its un­flinch­ing ap­petite for blis­ter­ing ac­cel­er­a­tion en­sured a cou­ple of 600-mile trips to the north of Scot­land were com­pleted in ex­em­plary fash­ion. I never tired of its abil­ity to blast past lighter, more ag­ile cars, while the exquisitely built cabin and spa­cious rear seats meant my fam­ily trav­elled in supreme com­fort.

Over the years it’s a jour­ney I’ve done on count­less oc­ca­sions, and I can hon­estly say that no car has made it eas­ier than the SQ7.

Given its size, it was pretty sat­is­fy­ing to drive in the coun­try­side around my par­ents’ home in Mon­trose, too. Yes, you were al­ways aware of its 2,330kg bulk, but when I switched the drive mode from my de­fault set­ting of Com­fort – where the ride was gen­uinely, er, com­fort­able – to Dy­namic, the SQ7 re­ally did han­dle adeptly. The op­tional Dy­namic Pack, which adds all-wheel steer­ing, a sports dif­fer­en­tial and ac­tive anti-roll bars, un­de­ni­ably makes this Audi one of the bet­ter SUVS to drive spirit­edly on a B-road. At £5,700 it’s not cheap, but if you’ve got the money to buy an SQ7 in the first place it’s un­likely to put you off.

Back in Lon­don, it was more of a mixed bag for the Audi. In March I moved house and here the SQ7 was in its el­e­ment. Its full seven seats were used on a cou­ple of oc­ca­sions to trans­port fam­ily as­sist­ing with the move, and I was pleased to find that the rear­most ones were eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble and able to ac­com­mo­date adults for short jour­neys.

Then when ul­ti­mate ca­pac­ity was needed for trips to the re­cy­cling cen­tre, it was sim­plic­ity it­self to fold the five rear seats and free up a 1,890-litre ca­pac­ity.

Those same trips to the dump, how­ever, did high­light one of the draw­backs of the SQ7 on home ter­ri­tory in Lon­don – its sheer size. My lo­cal re­cy­cling fa­cil­ity has a height re­stric­tion on ve­hi­cles to stop com­mer­cial waste be­ing dumped, and at 1.75 me­tres it was per­ilously close to the Audi’s 1,741mm. I couldn’t risk dam­ag­ing the panoramic roof, so each visit ne­ces­si­tated a wait for a spe­cial gate for out­sized ve­hi­cles to be opened, which was rather tire­some.

Traf­fic calm­ing width re­stric­tions were also a game of roulette. At 1,968mm, the SQ7 is very wide and I en­coun­tered two – both on pri­vate land – where the Audi wouldn’t squeeze through with­out fold­ing the wing mir­rors in, de­lay­ing ve­hi­cles be­hind me.

I didn’t re­ally warm to the sat-nav ei­ther, whether in Lon­don or else­where. While the map­ping was clear, and a choice of routes was al­ways of­fered, on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions it kept chang­ing its mind about po­ten­tial traf­fic prob­lems, which ul­ti­mately led to tor­tu­ous routes be­ing fol­lowed.

And while the £1,500 Park­ing As­sis­tance Pack en­sured ma­noeu­vring in tight spots was straight­for­ward thanks to its sur­round cam­eras of­fer­ing clear guid­ance on the full colour 8.3-inch dis­play, the need to drive gin­gerly on packed res­i­den­tial roads was al­ways ap­par­ent. On the whole, though, I’m sad to see the SQ7 go. As a su­per-fast, su­per-prac­ti­cal SUV it has few peers.

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