In-depth reviews

Audi Q7 e-tron (2015-2018)

"One of the best plug-in hybrid SUVs available, the Audi Q7 e-tron doesn’t skimp on performance or luxury"

Carbuyer Rating

4.2 out of 5

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Pros

  • Effective hybrid system
  • Practical and spacious
  • Very comfortable

Cons

  • Expensive to buy
  • No seven-seat option
  • Poor economy when batteries deplete

A direct rival to luxury plug-in hybrids like the Volvo XC90 T8 and BMW X5 xDrive40e, the Audi Q7 e-tron is large, practical, very comfortable, fast and – when driven sensibly with fully charged batteries – very economical.

The e-tron’s batteries mean you can’t have seven seats, but there’s class-leading boot space to compensate. Five passengers can travel in sublime comfort in the e-tron’s modern and luxurious interior, with loads of leg and headroom in the rear and superb seats up front.

Powered by a 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine and a 94kw electric motor producing a combined 368bhp, the Q7 e-tron strikes a great balance between performance and economy. There’s lots of low-down power, 0-62mph takes just 6.2 seconds and overtaking ability is fantastic given the Q7’s 2.5-tonne weight. Economy of up to 156.9mpg is quoted by Audi, with CO2 emissions of 48g/km. The e-tron can travel up to 34 miles on electric power alone, with batteries that can be charged in as little as 2.5 hours.

MPG, running costs & CO2

Small diesel hatchback economy from a full-size SUV

Achieving the headline-grabbing official economy figures for plug-in hybrids is a tall order in real-world driving; Audi’s quoted 156.9mpg would require fully charged batteries, a mix of electric-only and hybrid driving and very delicate use of the accelerator pedal. In normal driving, an average of 70mpg is more realistic, but that’s still a great figure for what is a large and heavy SUV.

To get the best economy from your Q7 e-tron, you’ll need to keep its batteries charged. This can be done in as little as 2.5 hours from a dedicated charging point (including home-installed versions), or around eight hours if you use a domestic 230v socket.

Thanks to its 48g/km CO2 figure, the Q7 e-tron will only cost £10 to tax in the first year, although this is usually included in the on-the-road price. Thereafter, you’ll pay the £130 yearly tax rate for alternative-fuel vehicles, plus an annual £310 surcharge for five years due to the Q7’s £40,000-plus list price. Low emissions mean the Q7 e-tron is exempt from the London Congestion Charge, however.

Engines, drive & performance

Great hybrid performance or silent all-electric cruising

Low emissions and great economy are the e-tron’s major selling points, but the combination of a powerful 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine and an electric means it’s remarkable punchy and very fast. Performance is hot-hatchback-rivaling, with 0-62mph taking 6.2 seconds and a top speed of 143mph – there’s enough low-down power to make overtaking a breeze, too.

While it’s no sports car in corners, the e-tron rides very well and handles neatly considering its size, with well controlled body movement and accurate steering. It’s worth speccing adaptive air suspension if outright comfort is a priority, but this will set you back around £2,000. As ever, Audi’s famous quattro four-wheel-drive system provides fantastic grip and traction in all conditions.

Interior & comfort

Luxury, comfort and fantastic build quality

Audi is a brand known for its fantastic interiors and the latest Q7 is no exception. Its design is sharp and modern, while all materials used are of the very best quality and everything is well put together. It’s very easy to get comfortable regardless of where you’re sitting, but those in the front get the best treatment, with optional sports or comfort seats available – the latter of which can be had with climate control. It’s very quiet inside the the Q7, too, even at motorway speeds – and especially in all-electric mode.

The latest iteration of Audi’s MMI infotainment system is easy to use, controlling everything from the DAB radio to car settings. The 12.3-inch virtual cockpit – a screen that replaces traditional dials behind the steering wheel – comes as standard on the e-tron and is a real joy. It can be set up to show various combinations of engine, speed and trip information, along with sat nav and multimedia displays.

Practicality & boot space

An SUV that makes the most of its generous proportions

Due to its electric batteries being fitted under the boot floor, the e-tron does without the seven-seat option available on other Q7 models. However, the remaining middle-row seats offer enough space to sit three adults comfortably with generous head and legroom. Each seat slides and reclines individually, while access is easy through decent-sized doors.

The lack of a third row also means boot space is great: 650 litres with the rear seats up, or a cavernous 1,835 litres with them folded flat. These figures are down slightly on non-hybrid models, which have 770 and 1,955 litres of space with their seats up and down respectively. Outright load space is a shade less than that found in the Volvo XC90 T8, but the e-tron is considerably larger inside than the BMW xDrive40e.

There are plenty of storage cubbies and pockets, with generous bins on all doors and a central armrest in the rear with built in cupholders.

Reliability & safety

Safe as houses but with unproven reliability

The all-new Audi Q7 was launched too recently to feature in our Driver Power 2017 owner satisfaction survey, but Audi finished 18th out of 27 manufacturers in the general rankings. However, the Q7’s smaller sibling – the Audi Q3 – finished in an impressive 13th place out of 74 cars. These good results should bode well for the Q7, but you’ll have to wait until next year’s Driver Power for more specific results.

A five-star Euro NCAP rating with scores of 94 and 88% for adult and child occupant protection is almost as good as its gets. There are ISOFIX points on all passenger seats, too. Optional safety equipment includes rear side airbags, lane-keeping assistance, road-sign recognition and adaptive cruise control. Automatic emergency braking (AEB), which can help avoid a crash at low speeds, is standard.

Price, value for money & options

Expensive to buy – especially with a few options

The Audi Q7 e-tron is expensive in the company of its rivals; it’s only slightly more than a Volvo X90 T8, but almost £10,000 more than the BMW X5 xDrive40e. It could be argued that the extra cash is worth it, though; the Q7 e-tron is a quality product that’s well built and luxurious enough to give a £100,000 Range Rover a run for its money.

Standard equipment is generous, including 19-inch wheels, stop-start, Audi Drive Select driving modes, LED headlights, roof rails, a powered tailgate, heated leather seats with four-way adjustment, three-zone climate control, Audi’s virtual cockpit dials, the MMI infotainment/sat-nav system, DAB radio, cruise control and much more.

If you do feel the need to add to that impressive list, you’ll have to pay for the privilege – climate-controlled comfort seats cost £3,500, while the excellent optional Bang & Olufsen sound system is a whopping £6,300.

This car scored 4.1 on our sister site DrivingElectric

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