Audi Q7 SUV review
“The huge Audi Q7 is powerful, has a fantastic interior and can be surprisingly affordable to run for such a large car”
- Plenty of safety technology
- Spacious interior
- Fussy styling
- Options are expensive
- Less powerful diesel is noisy
The original Audi Q7 was launched to an enthusiastic audience who'd long awaited an Audi SUV. Today, it's a rival to the BMW X5, and Mercedes GLE, Range Rover Sport, Porsche Cayenne, Volvo XC90 and the new Land Rover Defender, although it's actually closer in size to the Range Rover and Mercedes GLS.
For the latest version, Audi has kept what made the original such a success story – namely its huge, versatile seven-seat interior – but addressed some of the criticisms, including that it was too bulky and intimidating, both to look at and to drive. The latest version has lost none of its imposing presence, but it's leaner and more agile than before.
A facelift for 2019 brought the Q7’s styling in line with the latest Audi Q3 and Q8, namely an even more striking and wider grille and enhanced LED lights at the front and rear. It looks slightly lower and more athletic as a result, while upgraded tech borrowed from its coupe-SUV sibling the Q8, has also benefited the interior.
For such a big, heavy machine, the Q7 shows an impressive turn of speed, whichever version you choose. The 3.0-litre diesel engine is available with 228 (badged as a 45 TDI) or 282bhp (badged as a 50 TDI), allowing 0-62mph to be covered in just 7.3 and 6.3 seconds respectively. Irrespective of the difference in power, both diesel engines are capable of similar economy figures of up to around 34mpg.
The single petrol engine offering is badged 55 TFSI and is the most powerful model in the standard Q7 line-up with a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 producing 335bhp. It boasts impressive straight-line performance, sprinting from 0-62mph in only 5.9 seconds. It does have a considerable thirst though, with a fuel economy figure of around 27mpg.
These engines also come with mild-hybrid technology, allowing some power to be stored in a battery pack under deceleration to aid the engine when necessary, improving efficiency.
There's a brace of plug-in hybrids too, with both combining a V6 petrol engine and an electric motor and battery. The entry model is badged 55 TFSI e and produces 375bhp, while the flagship 60 TFSI e model has 449bhp. Both cars offer pure-electric running with a range of up to 26 miles and can be charged overnight via a home wallbox.
One version with very specific appeal is the Audi SQ7, the flagship performance model of the Q7 lineup. A 2020 update saw the 4.0-litre V8 diesel engine discontinued and replaced by an even more powerful 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol engine that upped the SQ7’s power output to 500bhp. The end result is a two-tonne SUV that sprints from 0-62mph in just 4.1 seconds.
While it can be fun to drive, the Q7 places its emphasis on comfort, and its standard air suspension is great at soaking up road imperfections while still delivering impressive body control. As this is a two-metre wide car, it’s a good job the steering is very accurate, helping you position the Q7 on narrow roads. Optional four-wheel steering is available to make the Q7 more manoeuvrable at low speeds.
The same rear-wheel steering (with an angle of up to five degrees) can also improve high-speed stability. Every Q7 comes with quattro four-wheel drive as standard, providing plenty of confidence in poor conditions, while there’s little body lean, even in tight corners. Choose the more powerful diesel and driving is a very relaxed experience, with plenty of power to overtake slower traffic with ease.
One of the Q7’s biggest selling points is how it looks and feels inside. The materials used are among the most attractive and highest-quality in any SUV, with standard leather seats and a touchscreen sat nav and infotainment system. The high centre console and dashboard give the Q7 a slightly more saloon-car-like seating position than some rivals, with the added benefit of being higher up. Ambient lighting bathes the interior with a relaxing glow at night, while Audi’s triple-display setup for its instruments, infotainment and car settings is one of the best in the business.
All versions of the Q7 are plushly equipped as standard with the Sport trim level getting adaptive air suspension, Matrix LED headlights, leather upholstery with heated front seats and 19-inch alloy wheels. The sportier S Line model adds to this with Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital dial display and 20-inch alloy wheels, while the Black Edition model gains Valcona leather sports seats, adaptive air sport suspension and larger 21-inch alloy wheels. The range-topping Vorsprung trim features 22-inch alloy wheels and a Bose surround sound stereo.
Offering practicality and luxury, the Q7 is an impressive family car, with huge head and legroom for front and second-row occupants. The second-row seats are also on runners, allowing them to slide forwards and backwards to make more space for the third row or boot. Even with all seven seats in place, boot capacity is still supermini-sized, while folding down the third row provides a huge 865 litres.
Audi has a reputation for building sturdy, well-engineered cars, so it’s perhaps surprising the brand only finished 21st out of 30 manufacturers in our 2020 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. Too few Q7 owners participated in the survey for it to feature individually in the results.
At least safety shouldn't be an issue: independent crash-test experts Euro NCAP awarded the Q7 the maximum five stars in late 2019.