Firmly stuck in a great long Q: Audi Q7 joins Our Cars, CAR+ June 2016 | CAR Magazine

Firmly stuck in a great long Q: Audi Q7 joins Our Cars, CAR+ June 2016

Published: 01 May 2016 Updated: 18 May 2016

The new Bentley Bentayga has only just gone on sale and the replacements for the VW Touareg and Porsche Cayenne have yet to be revealed, but we’re living with them all already, channelled through our new Audi Q7. All will share the VW Group’s MLB-Evo platform, which here uses its aluminium and thinner high-strength steel to cut 300kg from the weight of the old Q7. Lighter, stiffer cars are faster and handle better. More importantly for big SUVs, they should also be more refined, more economical, and easier to live with and justify. We’re about to find out.

The new Q7 scored a solid third in CAR’s recent test of three big SUVs, but perhaps the chance to carefully specify our own and use it as intended for the next year might win us around. Actually, it already has. I really like this car, even if some of these early experiences seem negative.

So, the spec. You’ll decide for yourself, but the new Q7’s styling doesn’t seem to have won many friends, and the standard colours don’t help. They are terrifically dull: seven monochromes relieved only by a dark blue, a dark green and a beige. For £2155 you can choose any colour in the Audi range, or for £2655 you can mix your own. But that seemed extravagant, so I went for Daytona Grey pearl, which is exclusive to the S-line and a £675 supplement. Only the black and white won’t cost you extra. As ‘understated’ was going to be the (involuntary) theme here, I stuck with the S-line’s standard 20-inch rims, which ought to help the ride.

Next, engine. Since I specced my car, the E-tron plug-in hybrid has been added, and the SQ7 with its 429bhp electrically supercharged 4.0-litre V8 will arrive later this year. But this 268bhp 3.0-litre V6 TDI will be easily the biggest seller. There is also a 215bhp version which is £2585 cheaper but only a claimed 0.8mpg more efficient, for which you sacrifice 74lb ft of torque. Fitted with its own special 18-inch rims its emissions just squeeze under 150g/km, saving a little on company car and road tax, so maybe that explains it. My version is only 4g/km dirtier.

The cabin trim options are equally conservative. I decided to leave the interior visuals and entertainment standard, and instead blow the options budget on some of the Q7’s impressive tech offering. This stuff only usually reveals its value once you’ve lived with it for a while, and our experience with it will be relevant to those buying the other Audis it’s offered on.

The highlights? Virtual cockpit shrinks the dials, and displays a big map right in front of you. Matrix LED lamps use sat-nav to decide when to use main beam, and can apply it selectively to different parts of the road ahead. Predictive Efficiency claims to be able to improve fuel use by 10% by tweaking the car’s systems and your driving technique to what it knows about the road ahead. All-wheel steering cuts the turning circle by a metre, and the park-assist pack means it will park itself and gives you five different camera angles should you be forced to park yourself. The optional air suspension and the full-length panoramic sunroof were the other big-ticket items. In total, we added £10,740 to the £53,835 OTR price.

And now it’s here. Yes, the exterior is a little dull. But the extraordinary material quality and finish of the cabin drew a genuine little gasp when I first sat inside it. My early miles have shown the ride quality on the 20s and air springs to be exceptional, and the mechanical refinement to be just as impressive.

But there are problems. The sat-nav controller doesn’t redraw the map correctly, leaving you with mad, trippy fractal art instead of directions, and the park button on the gearlever requires thumb-bruising force to activate. So I’ll be getting acquainted with my dealer sooner than I’d hoped, but it won’t take the lustre off this very accomplished, very clever big car.

Logbook: Audi Q7 3.0 TDI quattro S-line

Engine 2967cc 24v turbodiesel V6, 268bhp @ 3250rpm, 442lb ft @ 1500rpm  Transmission 8-speed auto, all-wheel drive 
6.5sec 0-62mph, 145mph, 153g/km 
As tested
Miles this month
Total miles
Our mpg
Official mpg
Fuel costs £48.04 
Extra costs £0

Read more from the June 2016 issue of CAR magazine

Audi Q7 interior

By Ben Oliver

Contributing editor, watch connoisseur, purveyor of fine features