With a reputation built on high performance coupes and sedans, Audi’s foray into the luxury SUV segment had to be good. Partnering with sister companies Porsche and Volkswagen, development of the Audi Q7 was watched closely by automotive industry analysts.
By any measure Audi has been successful with the Q7 selling well in all corners of the globe.
In a local market segment flush with great vehicles from star brands like Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Range Rover and Volvo, the Audi Q7 is a strong seller, especially attractive to families thanks to its standard seven seats.
Audi Q7 Overview
The Audi Q7 is Audi’s version of the vehicle also known as the Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg. Brilliant engineering makes these three vehicles individual and precisely specified to suit the three Volkswagen Group brands.
At 5,089mm in length and weighing 2240kgs, the Audi Q7 is one of the largest luxury SUVs on the market but it comes with a significant advantage – seven seats.
Kitted-out with hallmark Audi luxury inclusions, the Audi Q7 also delivers the brand’s sporty driving dynamics (in an SUV way).
The Audi Q7 range kicks-off at $88,614 for the 3.0-litre turbo-diesel model. Car Showroom tested the entry-level petrol-powered Audi Q7 – the 3.6 TFSI ($93,814) with its supercharged 3.0-litre V6.
At the top of the Audi Q7 lineup is the remarkable V12 turbo-diesel, priced at $254,814 and delivering 1000Nm of torque.
Audi Q7 Engine
Here’s some figures for you: 245kW from 5,500rpm – 6,500 rpm and 440Nm from 2900rpm – 5300rpm. Audi’s supercharged V6 is a masterpiece of German engineering that delivers breathtaking performance even accounting for the 2240kgs weight of the Audi Q7.
It’s a double overhead camshaft design with direct petrol injection and a Roots-style mechanical supercharger.
Combined cycle fuel consumption is 10.7l/100kms and exhaust C02 emissions are rated at 249g/km.
In developing this engine, Audi considered a twin-turbocharged alternative but, after extensive testing, opted for the supercharged version because of its superior throttle response and outright performance.
Another factor is the engine’s compact dimensions. The 90-degree V6 houses the supercharger in the space between the cylinder banks and – helped by its alloy crankcase – weighs just 189kgs.
Drive is to all four wheels via Audi’s superb eight-speed tiptronic automatic transmission with steering wheel paddle shifters for manual changes.
Audi Q7 The Interior
Audi does some of the best interiors in the business. It’s the combination of high quality materials, stylish colour palettes and up-to-the-minute technology.
Sure the Q7 is a large SUV but it still highlights those attributes. In fact, as part of the latest upgrades, the Audi Q7 scored new materials for the inlays and trim.
And its obvious when you climb into the drivers’ seat which affords multiple adjustments and combines with the rake/reach adjustable, leather-wrapped thee-spoke sports steering wheel to deliver a top-shelf driving position. Included in the most recent facelift were revised instruments – typical Audi classic look for the conventional gauges.
To the left on the broad center console is the CD audio system with MP3 and Bluetooth. Our test car was fitted with the optional third-generation MMI navigation system (this comes in a pack which also includes voice control, 4-Zone climate control air-conditioning and electronic tailgate operation).
Naturally there are lots of storage locations throughout the cabin.
Of course rear seat legroom is massive and the second row passengers enjoy nicely shaped seats.
The two individual third row seats are best for small children but are still beautifully finished in the Audi way and fold flat when not in use.
Cargo capacity with seats in use is 775-litres or a gargantuan 2,035-litres with the seats folded.
Audi Q7 Exterior & Styling
While the current generation Audi Q7 is nearing the end of its model life, it still presents a stylish, up-market, distinctly Audi look. Audi says the Audi Q7 highlights a coupe-like silhouette – that may be stretching things a bit, but it is remarkable how different the Q7, Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg each appear.
Most recent changes for the Audi Q7 were minor revisions to the trim front and rear plus the inclusion of U-shaped daytime running lights and (on the 3.0 TFSI tested) new-design 18-inch alloy wheels.
At the front, the combination of the large headlights and Audi-style grille delivers an imposing presence, while the elegant side view is dominated by the sheer size of the Audi Q7 – 5089mm overall length.
The rear features new design LED taillights.
Audi Q7 On The Road
The team at Ingolstadt, Germany certainly know their chassis tuning and on the road - amongst rival large European SUVs - we rank the Audi Q7 amongst the best (BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz ML) for driving dynamics.
Over our high-speed mountain roads test loop the Audi Q7 was impeccable with its comparatively taut suspension keeping the big SUV nicely balanced with good feedback and of course superb throttle response from the supercharged V6 – especially when using the eight-speeder as a manual. No surprise there – this is the company responsible for the R8.
Around town the Audi Q7 was just like an Audi A5 – typical European firmness but wonderfully refined inside with excellent isolation of noise.
But there’s no getting around size of the Audi Q7, particularly in city and suburban environments. After a day or two your senses become acclimatized to making judgment calls for lane width and parking, but that 12.0-metre turning circle means CBD and shopping mall car parking can be cumbersome.
By the same token, the Audi A1 is undoubtedly easy to park, but it doesn’t have seven seats, a 2035-litre cargo capacity or a 3,500kgs towing capacity.
Audi Q7 Challenges
Like its cousins the Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg, the Audi Q7 takes up some space on the road and parking maneuvers, particularly in the city and shopping malls, require a considered approach.
Audi Q7 Verdict
The Audi Q7 has ‘street cred’ there’s no doubt about that. The four-ring badge on the grille, stylish and beautifully crafted interior and that impressive supercharged V6 all add-up to an alluring mix of European sophistication and performance.
All that and seven seats mean this is a European luxo SUV that will make a big impression when you pull-up at school drop-off.
And that Quattro all-wheel-drive technology will keep dad happy through the twists and curves on weekend and holidays.
But your Toyota Prius-driving ‘green’ friends might not share your enthusiasm.
Audi Q7 The Competition
Seven seats is a big plus for Audi in this class.
One sibling, Volkswagen’s Touareg requires less coin but has considerably less engine and the interior isn’t in the Audi league. Q7’s other sibling, the Porsche Cayenne is a lot more expensive, but…well, it’s a Porsche.
BMW’s X5 xDrive 35i is a few grand more expensive and while it doesn’t quite match the Q7’s supercharged V6 in performance, the interior is very nicely done.
Mercedes-Benz ML350, while not challenging the Q7’s engine, at $88,310 is somewhat of a bargain.
Same for Volvo’s XC90 which provides the V8 R-Design model for $89,450.
Audi Q7 Likes:
A 7-seater with Audi driving dynamics; elegant interior; practicality
Audi Q7 Dislikes:
Size makes it not for the feint-hearted in traffic or parking