► Big SUV gets some mid-life updates
► Tweaked looks and revamped interior
► High-spec trims available, plus new tech
We’re big fans of the Audi Q7 – particularly the slightly bonkers SQ7 and its mountain of torque and straight-line abilities. It’s an incredibly well-engineered machine, and Audi’s just given it some mid-life tweaks to keep it competitive with the latest versions of the equally grille-tastic BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE and Volvo XC90. Fear not, they’ve done more than just throw some more chrome at it, changed that grille and stuck on some new lights.
Is it just cosmetic?
Obviously, they have done all of those things – the singleframe grille now has eight sides, there are no less than three options for the LED lights and there’s a chrome bar cross the back, but the bigger news is on the inside where the Q8’s dashboard has been crowbarred into the Q7, while a 48-volt mild hybrid system has been applied across the range – it’s not just reserved for the SQ7 anymore.
How does it perform?
On the move there’s little to disguise the Q7’s width (probably not aided by the fact we drove on some very tight Irish country roads), but a combination of 3.0-litre V6 petrol in the 55 TFSI, rear-wheel steering (optional) and adjustable air suspension (now standard) makes for a more agile yet comfortable experience than anything this size has any right to be. It flattens bumps in the road and remains incredibly hushed and civilised no matter the road. But so does the X5.
Tweak the driving experience via various modes through the Drive Select buttons (if you can spot them lurking beneath the new lower touchscreen). By all means go for Dynamic, but this is a big bus and it’s at its best in Comfort where the standard-fit air suspension does a fine job soaking up bumps without making you reach for the sick bucket. Plus it’s so nice inside the Q7 you wouldn’t want to ruin its lovely cabin. A sportier air suspension option is available that’s standard on top-spec Vorsprung cars, but this can fidget about more than we’d like, so stick with the standard setup for maximum waftability.
Is the interior still the best in the business?
Almost. Sadly it’s RIP rotary MMI controller. It worked so well. But long live the new touchscreen, of which there are two in the Q7, on top of the familiar Virtual Cockpit. The Q7 needs to move with the times, and so its cabin has been lifted pretty much unchanged from the Q8. It’s a much more glitzy affair now with a large central screen for the infotainment, a lower one for the climate and other car settings, and a lot of piano black pieces of trim and bright silver details. All of the displays are bright, crisp and brimming with data and all manner of things to tweak and fiddle with, and the Virtual Cockpit is as good as it always has been.
It’ll take a while to learn where everything is and it’s a more fiddly affair than in the old car. Set everything up before you move off and you’ll eliminate the chance of causing an incident. But with the availability of up to 30 driver assistance systems, chances are the car will look after you – but we wouldn’t recommend trying to find this out.
Comfort-wise, the seats are excellent in the front. Full leather chairs with optional massage function combine with the air suspension for a very cushy ride, while those in the back can luxuriate in acres of space. It’s an excellent family car.
All cars in the UK will come with seven seats, with those in the rear able to accommodate an adult, but as with most seven-seat SUVs, it’ll be better for the kids. If you don’t use them, fold them into the floor and make use of the enormous boot.
It’ll cost quite a bit, though?
It will, but you get a high standard spec, even in Sport trim. Most buyers will plump for an S Line or Black Edition, while Vorsprung models weight in at over £80k – but that comes with pretty much every option box ticked.
Thankfully the Q7 does feel special enough inside to justify its high price, thanks to that new interior. It may not be the most user-friendly – but equally rival systems in the BMW X5 and Merc’s MBUX setups aren’t perfect either.
The 55 TFSI – while beautifully smooth, refined and suitably punchy when you need it – is a lovely idea, but you’ll probably want the 45 TDI (228bhp) or 50 TDI (282bhp) for a better blend of performance (lots of torque) and economy (over 30mpg on most journeys).
The new 48-volt mild hybrid system claims to improve things ever so slightly in terms of fuel economy and CO2, but what this does that’s most noticeable is make the start-stop process at traffic lights and junctions a much less jerky affair, which has been a complaint levelled at some auto gearbox-equipped Audis in the past. The problem hasn’t been eliminated, but an improvement is always welcome.
New Audi Q7: verdict
Plus, the range of engines is excellent – they’re powerful and refined and help the Q7 to remain at the top of the premium seven-seat SUV game.
Specs quoted for Audi Q7 55 TFSI S Line