When I heard of the new Audi Q7, more than welcoming the new car, I was actually a little bemused. I’ve driven the previous generation that harbored the mammoth 4.2 TDI diesel mill and it pretty much had everything that one could ask for and more. My point was, ‘What more could Audi offer in the new car that the old one didn’t?’. Looking back at the old car’s specs and features, I could think of none! I decided to try out the car anyways and see if the Audi could derail my train of thought.
The USP of any Audi, especially the Q7 is its presence. In fact, the last Q7 looked so intimidating that a majority of its sales here in India was just because of the way it looked. The new car however, I feel, has gotten a lot more mature. It has transformed from being a big bully in your rear view mirrors to just a big SUV.
For starters, the new car is 37 mm shorter and 15 mm slimmer, while the height has remained approximately the same. Upfront, you still have the large single-frame grill with the headlights closely linked to it. The headlights of course hog the most attention especially when in use.
On the side, the new car does look unmistakably Q7-ish thanks to the A,B and C pillars looking almost similar. At the upper corner of the headlight, begins the so-called ‘blister line’ - which segments the side. The wheel arches portray the Q7’s muscular lines but quite subtly. You can also see the lift mode in action in the picture.
The entire rear end is dominated by the horizontal lines, which actually underscore the width of the new Audi Q7. The tail-lights, activated when the ignition is turned on, also create a double arrow, which look quite cool.
Overall, I think the new Q7 is a handsome looking SUV; but then, it’s lost the intimidating factor that the older model was revered for. This would mean a few less models sold considering the local politicos would not consider a sober looking Q7. But then it also means a few more sold to those who prefer elegance over an in-your-face look!
The new Q7 might be slimmer but it has more knee space, shoulder space and headroom than its predecessor. The moment you step inside, it’s more like entering a lounge than a car cabin. A large arc encompasses the front part of the interior, and draws an elegant curve from door to door. The instrument panel is sleek. Its front, characterized in the front passenger area by an air vent strip, is not joined to the center console. To save weight, the seat system in the new Audi Q7 has been redesigned from scratch. Compared with the seats in the previous model, it is nearly 19 kilograms lighter. The seats provide a comfortable upright position and needless to say offer just the right support you need by adjusting in as many as 18 different positions.
The second row of seats also offers top-level spaciousness and seat comfort. The backrests – split in the ratio of 35:30:35 – can be adjusted in inclination in 16 increments. With the optional rear seat bench plus the outer seats can be moved longitudinally as well. Stowage has been taken care of as well, with the door pockets accommodating 1.5 litre bottles.
The Air-con deserves a paragraph of its own too. Standard in the car is the two-zone deluxe air conditioning system. Its new operating concept uses fewer buttons and controls. An alternative is a luxurious four-zone system, with the temperature displays integrated in the rotary controls. A TFT display presents the status of important functions; moving your finger towards the capacitive rocker switches below enlarges the graphics. Rear passengers get their own controls to fiddle with.
The luggage compartment is quite flexible too. When all seven seats are occupied, it has a capacity of 295 liters. The five-seater offers 890 liters, and 2,075 liters with the second row seat backs folded down. Compared with the predecessor model, the loading sill is lower by nearly five centimeters.
The new car also boasts a fascinating chapter in the display area. Standard within the driver’s field of vision is an instrument cluster with analog circular instrument dials for the engine and vehicle speeds. Between them is the seven-inch color display belonging to the driver information system, with its attractive, high-resolution graphics. Depending on the equipment level, the range includes radio stations, music lists, navigation maps and the black and white pictures of the night vision assistant.
Powering the new Q7 is the renown 3.0 TDI V6 engine. Pushing out 250 PS @ 4500 rpm and a massive 600 Nm between 1500-3000 rpm, the Q7 is quick. No DSG here but the 8-speed tiptronic handles all the power at hand and ‘quattro’s’ it to the 4-wheels very efficiently. Developed from scratch, the drivetrain in the new Audi Q7 is much sleeker than its counterpart in the previous model, undercutting the old weight by 20 kilograms. A new quattro center differential replaces the previous transfer case, and is integrated in the eight-speed tiptronic.
As a result the Q7 has all the performance you need. The drive modes help you further in choosing how you would like the car to behave. Floor the throttle and the big Audi should hit 100 km/h in a claimed 7.1 seconds and go on to hit a top speed of 234 km/h. Numbers aside, the Q7’s torque reserves make sure that there is no performance deficit at any time. If you are concerned about fuel economy, the new Q7 is more economical than its predecessor at 14.75 kmpl.
Drive the new Q7 and you know Audi has got it right in the suspension department. The big SUV simply wafts on the road. Put it in Comfort mode and the Q7 feels like it is floating on water. This is courtesy the adaptive air suspension which adjusts the vehicle level and the shock absorbers at each axle according to the vehicle load. Switch to dynamic and the big car lowers itself substantially to hug the road better. No, it’s no Audi TT, but nevertheless the Q7 will surprise you should you decide to put it to the test.
Clearly if you liked the previous Q7 for its aggressive design, the new car isn’t going to win your heart thanks to Audi dumbing down the looks. But everywhere else the new Q7 is a step forward. It’s lighter, faster and more efficient. It’s got a feature list that’s too long to list and some brilliant breakthrough features. What stood out for me the most was the ride quality. The new adaptive air suspension gives the Q7 a phenomenal balance of ride and handling that works perfectly for its chauffeured clientele. Speaking of back seats, there’s plenty of space too along with an all-new MMI system, Bose 3D sound system with a barrage of 19 speakers and then some.
The new Audi Q7 will be available in two variants - the Q7 45 TDI premium Plus and Technology variants. While the former is priced at 72 lakh, the latter is priced at 77.5 lakh (both prices ex-showroom Delhi). The new Q7 goes head on against the Volvo XC90, the Mercedes-Benz GL, BMW X5 and the Range Rover. Now that’s some mighty tough competition, but then the Audi is a mighty fine car too!