All-new 2015 Audi Q7 road test review
WE AUSSIES are no strangers to driving long distances, and for generations we've been crossing the country in anything from vintage roadsters to mattress-hauling station wagons.
But what's the ideal modern car to eat through kilometres on a family road trip? If you've the readies, let us introduce you to the all-new Audi Q7.
This luxury seven-seater can't be had for less than six figures, but with premium SUV sales going through the roof there are eager buyers for these sumptuous behemoths.
And lucky them. The new Q7 is a technological tour de force, with numerous optional cutting-edge driver assistance systems to go with a sublime cabin rich with quality.
At launch, just one engine is offered - a 3.0 TDI with 200kW and 600Nm - but you could make a good case for this being the only powerplant you'd ever need, blending refinement, performance and economy.
The cabin transformation over the old Q7 is a mighty step up, and the old one was a stunner. Key to this is a 1440 x 540 pixel 12.3-inch LCD virtual cockpit (behind the steering wheel), displaying all driving information, entertainment and sat nav in unison. Simple to read and razor sharp crispness makes it class leading.
Sleek angles grace the delightful tiered dash and centre console, while every surface your fingers are privileged to run across feels sumptuous.
Leather trimmed seats are sizeable and cosseting up front, and second row occupants won't be disappointed, as three adults can happily live in comfort here.
Audi said it's like a chic lounge, and I struggle to find a better way to put it.
Audi has been getting its interiors spot-on for years now, and it has hit a new high with the latest Q7. Ten hours stuck in here? My pleasure.
On the road
Our test drive involved a fair slog from Melbourne to Adelaide; a deliberate and wise ploy by Audi to show the Q7 doing what it does best: eating through the kilometres.
It is 240kg lighter than its predecessor, meaning the 3.0 TDI is rarely stretched with that 600Nm from a low down 1500rpm.
Cruising's an unlaboured treat with barely any noise infiltrating the leather rich cabin; the engine hums along and the only complaint being you can catch yourself not realising how quick you're travelling.
There's a Drive Select system altering steering resistance and engine and transmission response; we found Auto to be (as expected) the best compromise, Comfort a tad too soft, but leave it in Dynamic for all but highway cruising and you're rewarded with a well balanced, weighty steering, minimal rolling big SUV that still rides over road imperfections with ease.
All our test cars featured optional adaptive air suspension ($4950) and it proved laughably good over all the road surfaces we sampled: town, highway, dirt and field.
Light and easy to steer around town, the Q7 feels a lot smaller to navigate into parking spaces than you may think. Not that the raft of beeping sensors and cameras would let you make a mistake anyway.
The optional driver assistance package (using sensors, cameras and very quick computers) made the Q7 as close to an autonomous vehicle as I've sampled.
Adaptive cruise control and traffic jam assist mean little driver input is needed in slow moving stuff, while active lane assist will actively turn the steering wheel in your hands to prevent you going over the white lines of the roadside or central dividing line.
Perhaps disconcerting by the way it takes control through the wheel, it nevertheless is an incredibly smart system.
What do you get?
Before we address the inclusions, there's the typical Audi optional extras to mull over.
Heated front seats ($950) should be standard on any luxury SUV costing north of $100k, metallic paint at $2400 stings, while the driver assistance package ($4075) and Matrix beam LED headlights ($5500) - although brilliant - add significantly to the purchase price.
Audi's standard 10-speaker sound system isn't shabby, but you can splash nearly $15k on a Bang and Olufsen 3D system if feeling flush. Of course it's creamy heaven on the ears, but that sum could buy your eldest their first little hatchback.
Standard spec isn't exactly shabby though. The 12.3-inch LCD virtual cockpit is joined by a pop-up 8.3-inch monitor with excellent resolution, while there's navigation, electric leather seats, auto air-con, 19-inch alloys, cruise control and xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights.
There's a suite of airbags, including head-level curtains for front and rear passengers, exit warning and rear cross traffic alert, plus a 360-degree camera.
Such is our enthusiasm for premium SUVs there are plenty on the shopping list.
Think BMW X5 xDrive 30d ($100,900), Range Rover Sport 3.0 TDV6 SE ($102,300), Porsche Cayenne 3.0 V6 Diesel ($104,700), and incoming Mercedes-Benz GLE SUV (from $86,900) and Volvo XC90 (from $89,950).
A large premium brand 4x4 is going to attract relatively hefty servicing charges, and re-shoeing a Q7 ain't going to be cheap either, especially if you option 21-inch rims.
But fuel economy may surprise for such a heavy seven-seater, as it sups only a quoted 5.9-litres/100km. Our brisk test drive averaged 8.4-litres/100km over hundreds of kilometres. Still a fair whack over the claim, but a lot less thirsty than some of the seven-seat rivals we've tested.
Key to these seven-seaters is ease of loading kids in the second and third rows.
The middle row splits 35:30:35 to allow decent and versatile access through to the back: a real boon for parents.
The rear two seats fold up and down at the touch of a button to add to the practicality, and a power tailgate opens with a waft or the foot under the car's rear.
With all seven seats used there are 295 litres of luggage space, but there's 770 litres with two rows used and 1955 litres with all rear seats folded flat.
The loading sill for the boot is also 5cm lower than the old Q7.
While the interior offers more space than the old Q7, exterior dimensions are actually smaller.
It helps the Q7 look less of a giant beastie than before, and when looking from the front you could mistake the seven-seater for a Q5.
Style-wise it looks more elegant and agile than the old Q7, sporting the Audi's current design language to good effect.
Let's just say the kids would be proud to see their yummy mummy turn up at the school gates in one.
Versatile, luxurious and a beauty inside and out, the new Q7 would be near the top of any list of well-heeled larger families with a penchant for road trips.
Its lighter weight and creamy diesel engine make for a superb drive combination, while cabin luxury and features are so good it actually makes Audi's flagship SUV look a bargain.
Don't get greedy with the options and a premium bargain it will remain.
What matters most
What we liked: Gorgeous cabin, ability to absorb road imperfections, brilliant engine and gearbox with impressive economy.
What we'd like to see: More reasonably priced options, heated seats as standard on any car costing north of $100k.
Warranty and servicing: Three year/unlimited kilometres warranty with roadside assist. Servicing is annual or every 15,000km.
Model: Audi Q7 3.0 TDI quattro.
Details: Five-door seven-seat 4x4 large SUV.
Engine: 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel generating maximum power of 200kW @ 3250rpm and peak torque of 600Nm @ 1500rpm.
Transmission: Eight-speed tiptronic auto, quattro permanent all-wheel-drive.
Consumption: 5.9-litres/100km (combined average).
Performance: 0-100kmh in 6.5-seconds, top speed 234kmh.
Bottom line (before on-roads): $103,900.
Driving experience 18/20
Features and equipment 16/20
Functionality and comfort 19/20
Value for money 15/20
Style and design 17/20