Launched at a time when premium SUVs were suffering a wave of negativity in the media due to their propensity for ‘gas guzzling’, the Audi Q7 was quickly set upon by the newspapers, who overlooked the fact that it was available with relatively frugal diesel motors and concentrated soley on its enormous size and intimidating road presence. It didn’t stop the Q7 becoming a sales success for the German marque, and now for 2014, it has been updated to keep it fresh in the face of its luxury 4×4 competition. We jumped behind the wheel to see what’s what.
What is it?
Audi’s range-topping SUV. Despite offering four-wheel-drive cars for decades, the Q7 was the first time the brand offered a car with an SUV body. With seating for seven, it was a practical proposition in a marketplace then dominated by the BMW X5 and Range Rover. For this 2014 update the engine range has been simplified. Gone are the petrol and outrageous twelve-cylinder diesel models, with buyers now able to choose from just two diesel motors: one a 3.0-litre V6 and the other a 4.2-litre V8. Tested here is the 242bhp version of the six-cylinder motor (a 201bhp version is also available), which is likely to be the most popular version in the UK thanks to its compelling blend of performance and fuel economy.
What is it like to drive?
Despite its enormous size and weight, Audi have done commendable job in making the Q7 a pleasant place to spend time behind the wheel. Body roll is kept in check and thanks to well judged power steering and suspension, it feels more like a big estate than a high riding SUV. The Q7’s sheer width does mean tighter gaps do have to be approached with caution, though on the whole, once you’re used to its dimensions, it becomes far more wieldy than its size suggests. Performance from the 3.0-litre V6 diesel motor is more than adequate, with the car never struggling to accrue speed. It emits a half-decent noise for a diesel, too, and coupled to the standard-fit automatic gearbox, makes for effortless progress.
What is it like inside?
The Q7’s cabin exudes the high quality and craftsmanship for which Audi has become known. Every surface feels expensive and well designed, the seats are exceptionally comfortable and on the move occupants are well insulated from wind and road noise. However, as a car that first appeared some eight years ago, the cabin is starting to show its age, with its overall architecture and some of the switchgear feeling dated compared to more contemporary offerings. On board toys suffer from the same problem. Everything you’d expect of a premium car is present: Bluetooth telephone preparation, DAB digital radio, radar cruise control. However, there is nothing that really pushes the game forward. Should this put you off? We’d say no, as the Q7 remains as liveable and as plush as most of its rivals.
Is it practical?
The Q7 is available with seven seats, which makes it a good choice for people with lots of children to transport on a regular basis. If you need to get adults in the rearmost row, however, other SUVs such as the Land Rover Discovery offer better accommodation. As you’d expect of a car of this size, the Q7 has an enormous boot. It doesn’t have a split-tailgate but it does without a loading lip, which takes the sting out of storing heavy or bulky items. The cabin is also well equipped with cubbyholes for stowing various odds and ends.
Should I buy one?
Whether you choose the Q7 over its rivals is likely to come down to the question of image, as objectively it delivers the same high quality and luxury as much of the models on the market. Keener drivers may want to look towards the BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne, both of which feel more involving, though with some sacrifice of overall ride comfort. If you lean more towards being pampered, the Range Rover is the obvious choice, though as it now aims to steal customers from the likes of Bentley, it is rather pricey in this company.
Don't want to buy new? You can browse for a used Audi Q7 in our classifieds here.
Audi Q7 3.0 TDI S line
List price: £46,985
Engine: 3.0-litre, six-cylinder, turbodiesel
Top speed: 135mph
0-62mph: 7.8 seconds
Fuel economy: 32.8mpg (urban), 42.2mpg (extra-urban) 38.2mpg (combined)
Emissions: 195g/km CO2
Euro NCAP rating: Four stars