Audi Q7 SUV
Price £48,455 - £70,970
- Spacious interior
- Plenty of safety technology
- Fussy styling
- Options are expensive
- Less powerful diesel is noisy
At a glance
“The new Audi Q7 is a fast, comfortable and luxurious SUV with one of the best interiors on the market.”
The Audi Q7 has become very popular, but has to work hard to stand its ground, especially when rivals are as great to drive as the BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne. Nor can the excellent new Volvo XC90 or stylish Range Rover Sport be ignored. In this company, the Audi's ability to seat seven is an important selling point.
When the previous Q7 was released in 2005, it quickly became recognised as a practical yet luxurious SUV, although some criticised its huge bulk and slightly overbearing styling. The latest generation has addressed these faults: it's now a rather handsome and somewhat more discreet car than before.
This second generation of Q7 is the first to embrace plug-in hybrid technology. The e-tron model combines a powerful 94kW electric motor with Audi's 254bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine and an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The outcome is some very impressive headline figures – fuel consumption as good as 156.9mpg and CO2 emissions as low as 48 grams per kilometer. So not only is the e-tron exempt from the London Congestion Charge, it's also zero-rated for road tax.
This all comes at a cost, though. The e-tron is a strict five-seater, as the third-row seats have been sacrificed to make room for the batteries. It's also around £20,000 more expensive than the entry-level model, although a similar situation exists with the plug-in hybrid versions of rival models: both the Volvo XC90 T8 TwinEngine and BMW X5 xDrive40e cost considerably more than their conventionally-powered sister models. The claimed economy of the Audi, however, beats both these cars.
Fuel economy is still good for the regular Q7, though. The two 3.0-litre diesel engines achieve 48.7 and 47.9mpg from its 215 and 268bhp versions respectively, while their CO2 emissions of 150 and 153g/km mean yearly road tax costs of £145 and £185.
A very high-performance model is available in the guise of the SQ7 TDI, which uses a 4.0-litre diesel engine and returns 39.2mpg. Emissions are higher here, though: 190g/km means £270-a-year road tax.
Performance is unlikely to disappoint you with any Q7. Even the least powerful diesel will take you from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds, with the 268bhp engine dropping this time to 6.5 seconds. The plug-in hybrid e-tron is even quicker, sprinting from 0-62mph in just 6.2 seconds, but beware that doing this will reduce those headline-grabbing economy figures.
The fastest model by far is the SQ7. Its 4.0-litre V8 diesel generates 429bhp with the help of two turbochargers, which are boosted by an innovative electronic compressor. This helps to get the turbos spinning quicker, reducing the delay between pressing the accelerator and the power arriving (a phenomenon known as 'turbo lag'). The result is a 0-62mph time of just 4.9 seconds and an electronically limited 155mph top speed – very quick indeed for a 2.3-tonne SUV.
The Audi Q7 is comfortable on the road, even more so if you choose the optional air-suspension system. You can have fun behind the wheel, too, with the precise steering allowing the car to be placed accurately in corners. Low-speed maneuvering is made easier by the optional four-wheel-steering system, which also adds stability at speed.
There's minimal body lean in corners and slippery road conditions are dealt with safely and confidently thanks to the standard quattro four-wheel-drive system. Travelling in the Q7 is even more relaxing if you opt for the 268bhp diesel, as its extra power makes overtaking effortless.
The most dynamic driving experience is offered by the SQ7, with its clever suspension system helping to disguise the car's bulk and weight. However, the sheer amount of power it has can be a little overwhelming. Sometimes it can spoil the smoothness of the car, which tends to lurch uncomfortably if you try to accelerate gently. Unless the air suspension is set in comfort mode, the ride is rather unsettled, too.
The Q7 is fantastic inside. As you might expect, it has leather seats and a touchscreen sat nav and infotainment system, all presented in one of best-looking, most luxuriously-finished interiors on the market. The centre console is wide and high, giving those in the front a feeling of being protected and cocooned, while there's ambient lighting to enhance restfulness when travelling at night. Meanwhile, you can specify Audi's ‘Virtual Cockpit’ dashboard: a large, customisable display that replaces traditional dials.
SE and S line are the two trim levels available and in truth, the standard SE is likely to have more than enough bells and whistles for most buyers. S line adds plusher leather, larger alloy wheels, sports seats, and various interior and exterior upgrades, including LED headlights. An extensive extras list enables you to tailor your car precisely – although options can be costly. The SQ7 has the longest list of standard equipment of all, including four-zone climate control.
The promise of luxurious practicality and seven-seat capacity makes the Q7 attractive to families. There are huge amounts of head and legroom for the second-row seats, which can slide forward to offer more space for the third-row passengers. The Q7's boot measures 295 litres with the rear seats in place; despite not sounding huge, this is an impressive size for a seven-seater. Folding both rows down expands boot space to a cavernous 770 litres.
Audi has built its reputation on solid, well-designed cars, so it's surprising that some owners haven’t reported the best experience. Although this Q7 didn’t feature in our latest Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, Audi as a brand wound up a disappointing 21st out of 32 carmakers.
There are no such qualms about safety, thanks to the Q7's five-star Euro NCAP rating, which confirms the car as a secure, as well as fast and stylish, way of transporting your family.
The Audi Q7 is available with two versions of a diesel engine that keeps running costs relatively low for a car this size
The new Audi Q7 is lighter than the old one
The Audi Q7 benefits from the brand's trademark interior excellence and is very comfortable
The Audi Q7 has seven seats and a very flexible layout
The Audi Q7 is loaded with cutting-edge safety technology