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.”
There was little doubt that the Audi Q7 was a practical and capable SUV when it was first launched in 2005, but it received criticism from some quarters for rather overbearing styling and a bulbous shape. Those points have been addressed by the all-new Q7; it's still a very large car but rather more handsome than the previous model.
A plug-in hybrid model is new for this Q7 generation and is called the e-Tron. It returns a claimed 156.9mpg and emits just 48g/km of CO2, making it one of the few cars to be exempt from the London Congestion Charge – though it's almost £20,000 more than the cheapest Q7. Audi isn’t alone in offering a plug-in hybrid SUV, similar power systems are offered in the Volvo XC90 T8 and BMW X5 xDrive40e, though only the Volvo comes close to matching the Audi for outright efficiency.
The Q7 is also offered with a choice of two 3.0-litre diesel engines and the 215bhp diesel returns 48.7mpg and emits 150g/km of CO2, costing £145 a year in road tax. The 268bhp version of this engine achieves similar economy of 47.9mpg, but brings slightly higher CO2 emissions of 153g/km, enough to bump it into the £185 road tax bracket.
The very high performance SQ7 TDI, with a twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre diesel engine is rather less focussed on economy and return 39.2mpg. Its CO2 emissions are rated at 190g/km, enough to see you liable for a £270 road tax bill every year.
Whichever engine you go for, performance is unlikely to disappoint – particularly given the car's size. The entry-level diesel will get the Q7 from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds, while choosing the 268bhp engine sees this drop to 6.5 seconds. The e-Tron plug-in hybrid is faster still, with a 0-62mph time of just 6.2 seconds, but trying to achieve this sort of performance will be to the detriment of its headline-grabbing economy figures.
By far the fastest model in the range is the twin turbo SQ7 TDI, with its 429bhp 4.0-litre V8. Its two urbochargers are augmented by an innovative electronic compressor which helps to get the turbos up to speed more quickly, thus reducing the chance of any delay between pressing the accelerator and the power arriving (a phenomenon known as 'turbo lag'). This results in a 0-62mph time of just 4.9 seconds and an electronically limited 155mph top speed. That's very quick indeed for a 2.3-tonne SUV.
On the road, the Audi Q7 is very comfortable, and becomes even more so if you choose to fit the optional air suspension. It's also enjoyable to drive; the steering allows you to place the car confidently and accurately on the road, and the optional four-wheel-steering system makes low-speed manoeuvring easier and adds stability when travelling at speed. Body lean is well controlled in corners, while standard-fit four-wheel-drive gives added reassurance in slippery conditions. If you can stretch to the more powerful diesel (which commands a £2,000 premium over the lesser engine) then we suggest you do, as it leads to a more relaxed driving experience.
As you might expect, the SQ7 offers a far more dynamic driving experience, going remarkably far to disguise the bulk and weight of the car. However its sheer power can sometimes get in the way of smoothness; making small throttle adjustments at low speed can be difficult leading to the car lurching uncomfortably. The ride is a little unsettled, too, unless the air suspension is set in Comfort mode.
Getting into any Audi Q7 is an experience to be savoured. As with most cars in this price-bracket you get leather seats and a touchscreen sat-nav and infotainment system, but the Q7 also boasts one of the most luxurious and modern-looking interiors of any car on the market. The wide, high centre console means the driver and front-seat passenger feel cocooned and protected, and ambient lighting makes travelling at night a special experience. The driver, meanwhile, is treated to Audi's (optional) ‘Virtual Cockpit’ dashboard, which replaces traditional dials with a large, customisable LCD display.
There are two trim levels available, called SE and S line. S line adds larger alloy wheels, sports seats, plusher leather and various interior and exterior upgrades, including LED headlights. In truth, the standard SE is likely to have more than enough bells and whistles for most buyers, while Audi's extensive option list will enable you to specify the car you want – at a price, of course. The SQ7, as you would expect, offers every convenience feature you could want including four-zone climate control.
Most Q7s bought by families are chosen for their luxurious practicality, two qualities which exist side-by side in this biggest of Audis. The middle row of seats offers huge amounts of leg and headroom, and can also slide forward to give back-row passengers more space. With those rear seats in place, the Q7's boot is 295-litres; this may not sound huge, but it's very impressive for a seven seater; fold them both down and boot space grows to a cavernous 770 litres.
Audi has a reputation for building solid, well-designed cars, so it's a shame this isn’t entirely reflected in terms of brand reliability. While the Q7 is too new to have featured in our latest polls, Audi came mid-way in our 2015 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, finishing 13th out of 32 carmakers. There are no such qualms in terms of safety, thanks to the Q7's five star Euro NCAP rating.
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