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.”
When the Audi Q7 first launched in 2005 there was no doubt that it was a practical and capable SUV, but some felt that its styling was somewhat overbearing and bulbous. The all-new Q7 has addressed those criticisms; there's no denying it's still a very large car, but it's more handsome than the previous model. Big SUVs are big business, and the Q7 has to stand its ground against the great-to-drive BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne, as well as the highly capable Volvo XC90 and Range Rover Sport.
Audi offers the Q7 with two 3.0-litre diesel engines, with either 215 or 268bhp. There's also a plug-in hybrid model, called the e-Tron, that 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. The Volvo XC90 T8 and BMW X5 xDrive40e both have similar power systems, though out of these two, only the Volvo comes close to matching the Audi for outright efficiency.
Turning to the conventional engines, the 215bhp diesel returns 48.7mpg and emits 150g/km of CO2, costing £145 a year in road tax, while the 268bhp model achieves similar economy of 47.9mpg, but slightly higher CO2 emissions of 153g/km are enough to bump it into the £185 road tax bracket. The high performance SQ7 TDI, however, will return around 38mpg on average and has CO2 emissions rated at 195g/km. This means you'll be liable for a £270 road tax bill every year. These figures are a significant improvement over the previous Q7, and have been achieved partly thanks to the new model being an impressive 240kg lighter.
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. If you want the fastest model int he range, though, you need the twin turbo SQ7 TDI, which uses a 429bhp 4.0-litre V8 that's 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 accellerator 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 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.
Getting into an 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.
Most Q7s are bought by families after luxurious practicality, and while the Q7 definitely equips itself well in terms of luxury, it's also a hugely practical car. 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