Is this 4.2-litre diesel Q7 just playing another part in the Audi master plan for world dominance?
When you’ve spent a gazillion euros developing the world’s most powerful V8 diesel engine it would seem economic suicide not to use it in as many models as possible. This, and the fact sales of the Q7 have far exceeded Audi’s wildest forecasts, makes the two appear a perfect match. Taking into consideration the phenomenal success the Q7 has had (88,000 units to date worldwide since launch thirteen months ago) during a trend of unfounded villification against all SUVs, it make you wonder what Audi know that all the other car manufacturers don’t.
What’s wrong with the current 3.0-litre TDI in the Q7?
Absolutely nothing, but it’s all about choice. As good as all the other engine options are - the aforementioned 3.0 TDI, and the petrol 3.6 FSI and 4.2 FSI - this 4.2-litre V8 diesel is the most compelling powerplant currently available in the line-up. And given the choice, wouldn’t you want your two tonne off-roader to swagger around with 326bhp, and 560lb ft of torque, enough turbo-blown muscle to bolt to 60mph in a smidgen over six seconds and post a 146mph top speed? Exactly. And it’s quieter than a slipper-shod church mouse tiptoeing across a shag pile carpet. Add the intuitive six-speed automatic gearbox and Quattro 4WD system into the equation, and you end up with a flagship SUV, fuelled from the black handled pump, which truly believes it is a petrol driven sports coupe.
All that power means it can’t be that economical… can it?
Granted, it is not the most fuel efficient or ecologically friendly diesel on the market but by being a little less enthusiastic with the right foot it will average 25mpg. Even though this particular engine is right up at the cutting edge of diesel technology, it still spews out 294grams of CO2 from its twin cannon-like exhaust pipes. Mayor Ken and all of his tree-hugging pals really won’t thank you for driving it through the heart of the capital, but then again if you’ve spent £50,000 on this premium SUV will you care what a load of lentil-eating cyclists think?
Is it just another four-wheel gin palace offering the off-road ability of a flip-flop?
It still wouldn’t be our first choice to enter the Paris Dakar Rally in, and Land Rover or Jeep won’t losing any sleep over it’s off-road abilities, but if in the unlikely event any Q7 owners did venture a little further afield than their gravel driveways, they might be surprised at how well it can handle itself. Despite its massive girth the Q7 rides on a proven four-wheel drive system, there’s air-suspension, which can be raised to limit expensive bodyshop repairs, and more importantly the biggest dollop of V8 diesel torque ready and willing to try and pull it out of a not-to-sticky situation.
Any thing else I should know about?
The Q7 flagship comes with an exclusive Bang&Olufsen sound system option. It may set you back the best part of three grand but worth every penny just to watch the acoustic tweeter lenses rise gracefully up from either side of the dashboard. The radio/CD/satnav system took two years to develop and replicates near concert-like pitch. It’s even wired up so the noise quality changes automatically to compensate for ambient road and wind noise. Otherwise it’s the same plush leather and wood Q7 cabin – excellent ergonomics, fine build quality and so-so packaging.
Audi may have turned up more than fashionably late to the SUV party but this formidable V8-powered diesel Q7 is bound to impress the remaining guests. Powerful, smooth and – relatively speaking of course – delivering decent fuel economy, it effectively steals the headlines from its competitors. But every party has to end. Will Audi wake up with the mother of all hangovers when the festivities wind down? We think not - this V8 diesel could manage to keep the guests entertained far longer than any of their other German rivals.