Audi Q7 3.0TDI quattro27 | 07 | 2015Scotcars rating

    Audi reinvents the Q7 and delivers a large SUV ready to go head-to-head with the best

    INTERESTINGLY, ONE OF the pertinent comments which sticks in my mind from the presentation of the all-new Audi Q7 is: "Of course, when we launched the first Q7, it was already old technology." If you're concerned Audi has made the same mistake with this second generation, I can tell you they haven't: this is state-of-the-art technology.

    Conceived back in 2005 when the first car made its debut at Frankfurt, the Q7 has — despite Audi's current day 'old technology' admission — been a huge success. So much so that it spawned Audi's recordbreaking stable of smaller SUVs, including the Q5 and Q3. Expect the new Q1 next year.

    But today we're focusing on the all-new Q7 — order books are already open in dealerships across Scotland — resplendent with the huge new three-dimensional grille which will be rolled out across the Audi range. The latest Q7's smaller than the model it replaces — it's a few inches narrower and shorter — but, more significantly, a whopping 325kg less than its predecessor. In old money, that's 51st 2lbs. That's the equivalent of taking close to five of me out the car.

    And it's been achieved by shaving kilos off here and there around the car, including 19kg off the seats, 24kgs off the doors, another 19kg shaved off the exhaust systems, plus 8.5kg and 4kg off the brakes and electrical wires respectively.

    Designed to challenge the likes of the Range Rover Sport, Volvo XC90 and BMW X5, this new model — unlike the old model — arrives at the start of a new technology cycle, which means its bursting with innovation.

    Built on the VW Group's new MLB Evo platform, that will later underpin the next VW Touareg and Porsche Cayenne models, plus the new Bentley SUV — in addition to other front-engined Audis like the new A4 saloon — the new Q7 remains a seven-seater.

    Audi claims it has managed to combine advanced technology, lightweight, aerodynamics and efficiency into a car which also delivers luxury, refinement, fine handling, and sophistication. And an initial test through the New Forest hints that the boffins at Ingolstadt have got it right.

    Don't get me wrong, the Q7 is still a big car, but clever styling cues mean it doesn't look as big in the metal. By combining reduced body volumes and strong horizontal bodywork creases, the car immediately looks less like the Hulk and appears much lower. Nae, even sporty.

    More than that though, it's now understated, in that Germanic Audi way. And I think the Q7 benefits from the new approach.

    Sure it's footprint is still on the large size, but unquestionably the use of new cutting-edge technology in the car ensures that when you're behind the wheel, the Q7 appears to shrink.

    Using a mixed-metal underbody — consisting of just over 40% aluminium and 12% hot-formed ultra-high-strength steel — Audi has saved another 71kg.

    At launch UK buyers get the 268bhp turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 TDI engine costing from £50,340 or the SE model, and rising to £53,835 for the S line. Mated to its eight-speed automatic gearbox, it's no slouch, hitting 62mph from standstill in 6.5 seconds — that's faster than the current Porsche Cayenne Diesel — and boasting a top speed of 145mph. According to Audi, it emits 153g/km CO2, and has combined fuel consumption of 47.9mpg: that's a 23% saving over the outgoing Q7.

    Related: Audi Q1 set for Geneva unveil

    Steel springs are standard fit, but a height-adjustable adaptively damped air suspension system is on the options list and delivers ground clearance of up to 245mm.

    It's worth also highlighting that the option list also includes a four-wheel steering system capable of turning the rear wheels up to 5deg in the opposing direction to the fronts at low speeds, to reduce the car’s turning circle.

    Cleverly, at higher speeds, it can turn them up to 3.5deg in the same direction as the front wheels, to improve cornering stability and steering response.

    A 3.0TDI with 218bhp arrives in October, with prices expected to start at around £47,000. It will return up to 52.3mpg with CO2 of just 144g/km, but will accelerate from 0-62mph in 7.4secs and carry on to a top speed of 134mph. All Q7s are fitted with Audi's iconic quattro four-wheel drive as standard, and come with stop-start.

    There are two trim levels available across the range, SE and S line, which carries a £3495 premium. The latter adds 20in alloys, nappa leather sports front seats, a sportier steering wheel and bodykit and a four-zone climate control system.

    If your purse strings can stretch, you can also opt for the Leather Pack (£1500), Technology Pack (£1950) and Dynamic Pack (£2655).

    Of course, measuring the 0-62mph time of a Q7 against the likes of a Golf GTI is rather silly: you're not going to enter a drag race with an SUV behemoth. No: what you want to know is how this two-tonne vehicle copes as it eases its way into motorway traffic, and overtakes slower cars.

    And here the new Q7 again shines: its 30-70mph time is around the same time it takes to cover 6-62mph, 6.5secs. That makes it appealing. And the fact it does it with a silky smoothness, refinement and quietness merely enhances its reputation further. And that serenity continues well past 70mph.

    Related: Exclusive — Interview with Loic Duval

    Whisper it, but the Q7's suppleness now matches that of the class-leading Land Rovers, such has been the development over the first-generation Q7 which …. well, was a rather firm ride.

    Inside the Q7's cabin, it's a true seven-seater, with near MPV-like space in the back row, meaning sufficient leg and head room for a modest-sized adult. If you're a small child, you'll have absolutely no complaints. And though the third row of seats is raised with the aid of electric motors, it's those youngsters who will cope more easily with the need to clamber into the rear.

    Sensibly, there's still space for a few shopping bags and bits 'n' bobs in the rear with the third row of seats raised. Lower them and the bootspace grows significantly to a very competitive 770 litres.

    The middle row of three individual seats all slide fore and aft, and once lowered create a 1955-litre stowage space. Believe me, you'd get a fridge-freezer in easily.

    But I've kept the best for last. The front passengers bask in an air of luxury, on par with anything served up by the current sector leaders, Land Rover and Volvo.

    Fit and finish is, as you would expect, supreme, and Audi's use of brushed metal (or something very akin to it) allied to gloriously sweeping lines ensure a haven of comfort and style. And it's rounded off by Audi's flawless integration of technology which continues to set new boundaries of excellence and ease of use in mainstream cars.

    Worth also mentioning the new Q7 is the first Audi to Apple’s CarPlay as an option: just plug in your iPhone and operate all of its relevant functions either through Siri voice activation or the MMI controller. If you're an iPhone fan, it's a box you just have to tick on the options sheet.

    So, has the nine years since the Q7 was launched into the UK — it's sold more than 500,000 units worldwide — been worth the wait? With its peerless combination of luxury, refinement, versatility and quietness, you bet.

    Related: Roadtest — Audi TT 2.0TDI Ultra

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    Jim McGill


    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £50,340 / £59,145
    Engine / Power: 2967cc V6 TDI turbocharged diesel / 268bhp
    How fast?: 0-62mph 6.5sec; / Max 145mph
    How big/heavy?: L5052mm W1968mm H1691mm / 2060kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: 45.6mpg combined / 163g/km CO2
    InsGP/Road tax: n/a / n/a
    Alternatives: BMW X5, Porsche Cayenne, Range Rover Sport

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