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Audi SQ7


Audi Q7

Summary

Audi SQ7

With car brands turning away from diesel engines in favour of more efficient petrol and hybrid powertrains, Audi has bucked the trend and stuck with an oil-burner for its latest SQ7 large SUV.

But the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine with 48-volt mild-hybrid technology is just a carryover from before, so what else has Audi done to keep the SQ7 fresh in 2020?

Outside, the SQ7 looks a little different thanks to a new front grille, but it's the changes on the inside that headline this update.

A dual-screen set-up is now found on the centre console, replacing the old version's button-heavy design, but is this enough to keep the Audi SQ7 competitive against its rivals?

Safety rating
Engine Type4.0L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency7.2L/100km
Seating5 seats

Audi Q7

Audi's Q7 burst on to the scene at the 2002 Frankfurt Motor Show. A big, bluff unit, it went into production in 2005 and hung around for what seemed like an eternity. Like many first-generation German premium SUVs, it was compromised, heavy and heavily US-market focused.

The second-generation arrived in 2015. Its styling polarised opinion but its shift in focus has - arguably - made it more appealing to more people. Lower, better-packaged and with a very impressive interior, the Q7 transformed into a proper, premium SUV.

Safety rating
Engine Type3.0L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency5.8L/100km
Seating7 seats

Verdict

Audi SQ78.5/10

Audi has thrown many ingredients into a blender to make the smoothie that is the SQ7, but while some of those elements might seem like they clash on paper, the brand has pulled off an absolute taste sensation.

The SQ7 is perfectly at home at slow speeds around town being a comfortable family hauler, and is also a credible performer in the bends.

The diesel engine also gives the SQ7 a unique point of difference, and serves up a nearly unmatched torque punch.

Add to that, the fact that Audi has thrown in more equipment for a slightly reduced asking price, and the SQ7 deserves its spot at the top of the large luxury SUV consideration list.


Audi Q77.6/10

It's difficult to pick between the 160 and the 200. Neither are particularly cheap but this is another of those occasions where it would be a waste of money to bring in a comparatively stripped-out entry level that nobody would buy.

If pressed, I'd say spend the extra on the 200 - it's got a fair bit more gear for the extra outlay and in both the theoretical and real worlds, it doesn't really use that much more fuel for the decent performance boost.

The e-tron is a long shot for a bigger wad of cash and is really only for those keen on a plug-in hybrid Q7. The limited competition isn't any better.

The Q7 is a belter of a large SUV - quiet, refined and reasonably capable off-road, despite its decidedly on-road focus. It goes about its business quietly, confidently and with a minimum of fuss . You know it's big, but it doesn't shout about it and, crucially, it doesn't feel like it from behind the wheel. That's a neat trick.

Do you agree with Peter's assessment that the Q7 is a suave city-dweller or is it just Another SUV? Tell us in the comments below.

Design

Audi SQ79/10

We reckon the Audi Q7 has always been a handsome large SUV, and the top-spec SQ7 does nothing to contradict our opinion.

In fact, compare an SQ7 side-by-side with a Q7 and only the most keen-eyed punters will be able to spot the difference.

Look closely though, and you will see 22-inch wheels, S Line bodykit, different bumpers and red brake callipers, as well as quad-exhaust tips.

It's subtle – especially in our test car's Navarra Blue paintwork – and we dig that the SQ7 is statelier in appearance than shouty, despite its Audi Sport designation.

Differentiating the 2020 SQ7 from its predecessor is a new front grille, which now sports vertical slats instead of horizontal ones, and updated headlights.

However, it's the inside of the SQ7 that gets the biggest design updates to bring it into the new decade.

The centre console now houses two large touchscreen displays, one for the multi-media system and the other for the climate controls, replacing the old SQ7's numerous buttons.

While the screens look fantastic, they attract fingerprints like a magnet after a little use.

Audi has seen fit to include a screen-wiping cloth in the glovebox of the new SQ7, but grubby and greasy fingers will infuriate the neat freaks out there.

The dashboard has also been reworked to suit the new screens, with integrated ‘hidden' air vents, and gloss-black and matt-brushed aluminium detailing.

Sports seats also feature, finished in Valcona leather with diamond stitching, but tall front passengers should take note as the headrests are not adjustable.

The preceding SQ7 cabin might have cut the mustard at the time, but the interior of luxury cars has moved on in leaps and bounds since 2016, so it's great to see the new version scoring a significant upgrade.


Audi Q7

The second-generation Q7 is a familiar sight on our roads. I remember the change from the first to second iterations clearly - I wasn't a fan of the old one's overbearing looks and it always looked as though it rode too high, especially on smaller wheels. As its long model cycle wore on, it became ever more bejewelled and the basic shape was lost in bling.

Thankfully, the second generation went light on the chrome and flashiness. Always riding on big rims, it looks less imposing than the original. There are some off-road nods, like vestigial wheelarch extensions, but anything with a rear diffuser is meant more for tarmac than gravel.

This Q7 is more a high-riding wagon (or higher-riding of you take the A6 Allroad into account) and seems more optimised for passenger space and utility rather than shouting 'Look at my massive car!'. Like the bulk of the current Audi SUV range, it's quietly elegant.

And inside, it's tremendous. The now de rigueur 'widescreen' feel to the interior means an airy, light space. Materials are spot on, the design coherent and sensible and the ergonomics are close to faultless. You'll want for nothing in here, with plenty of space, gadgets and style.

Practicality

Audi SQ78/10

Measuring 5067mm long, 2212mm wide, 1743mm tall and with a 2996mm wheelbase, the SQ7 is a sizeable large SUV.

Its large dimensions translate well to interior space, with enough room to seat four adults and three children comfortably.

The front seats are the best in the house for room, but storage options are surprisingly limited.

Large door bins can house big bottles, and then some, but the central storage bin tucked under the armrest is disappointingly shallow.

The dual-screen set-up in the centre console also means the SQ7 loses the small storage tray found ahead of the shifter, but at least the generously-sized cupholders remain.

In the second-row, my six-foot frame fits comfortably in the outboard seats with plenty of head-, shoulder- and legroom, even with the front seats set in my preferred position.

The middle seat in the second row is harder to get comfortable on, partly due to its smaller size, but children should have no problem,  even during long journeys.

Each seat is also individually adjustable, able to slide and fold independently.

The second-row doors have generous door pockets for bottle storage, while the fold-down armrest sports two cupholders.

As for the third row, however, it's a little trickier to get comfortable with the limited room, but the space isn't too bad for occasional use or small kids. It even has its own set of cupholders!

The SQ7's boot only accommodates 235 litres when all seats are in place, however, stow the third row and that figure swells to 705L.

With the 40:20:40 second row also folded, volume increases to 1890L.

Even with all seats in place though, the SQ7 offers enough for some groceries or a stroller, while the cut-outs in the side should even help with a golf bag.


Audi Q7

The size of this car is undeniable - interior images confirm loads of space and comfort for passengers and cargo. The interior dimensions match the huge exterior (the Q7 measures 5052mm long, 1968mm wide, and 1740mm high).

The diesel-only Q7s are seven-seaters, with access to third-row seating provided by tumbling the middle row forward. You can change how many seats by specifying it with just five as a no-cost option. The e-tron is available as a five-seater only.

Rear legroom in the middle row ranges from almost zero if you slide the seats all the way forward, to 'limousine', and that obviously affects the back row. The four-zone climate control (optional in the 160) also means third row passengers don't have to sweat it out when it's hot, which is a nice touch.

Boot space starts at an already-massive 770 litres with the third row stowed, and up to 1955 litres with the middle row down. The e-tron, with its underfloor gubbins, has a slightly reduced capacity with 650/1835 litres. The bottom line is, luggage capacity is excellent when the third row is out of the way.

The car comes standard with a cargo cover, roof rails (but no roof rack, although I'm certain a dealer will sell you one from an extensive accessories list). A net-style cargo-barrier can be erected either behind the middle or front rows of seats.

Storage space is good - the interior features a shallow centre console up front, a cupholder each for up to six passengers, a good glove box and bottle holders in each door.

Gross vehicle weight is rated at 2940kg for the 160 and 200 while the e-tron, with its higher kerb weight as a result of the electric gear, is rated at 3185kg. Double the turning radius and you have a turning circle of 12.4 metres. Ground clearance is 245mm unladen and wading depth, if you're game, is 535mm.

Price and features

Audi SQ79/10

Priced at $161,500 before on-road costs, the new SQ7 is $400 cheaper than its predecessor.

While a $160,000-plus pricetag is certainly nothing to scoff at, this is about lineball with other large performance SUVs.

The Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 is priced at $166,700, while the BMW X5 M50i and Range Rover Sport SDV8 HSE Dynamic is $151,900 and $159,759 respectively.

According to Audi, the SQ7 now has more than $15,000 worth of added equipment compared to before, including red-painted brake callipers, a panoramic sunroof, 22-inch wheels and rear-axle steering that were options before.

Standard equipment in the SQ7 includes adaptive air suspension, Matrix LED laser headlights, four-zone climate control, push-button start, wireless smartphone charger, heated front seats, powered tailgate with kick operation, soft-close doors, power-folding third-row seats and heated side mirrors.

Audi's excellent 12.3-inch virtual cockpit unit also carries over as before, and is as intuitive and great to use as it has been since debuting on the third-generation TT.

The headline change to the new SQ7, however, is the new multimedia and climate control system, which now matches the A6, A7 and A8 passenger cars with a screen that measures 10.1 inches up top and an 8.6-inch display down below.

Both screens feature haptic feedback, making it feel as if you are clicking a button, but thankfully volume controls are handled by a physical knob.

The multimedia system features satellite navigation, wireless Apple CarPlay connectivity, Android Auto support, digital radio and a 19-speaker Bose sound system.

Despite the extra standard equipment, options are still available and include carbon-fibre interior highlights ($1950), black exterior detailing ($1450), and a Sensory Pack ($13,300) that bundles an up-rated sound system, Alcantara headliner, cooled front seats and more in-cabin leather.


Audi Q7

There are three Q7s in our model comparison, excluding the V8-powered triple-turbo SQ7. The range starts with the 160 at $97,800, with the 160 designation referring to the engine output in kilowatts. 

The 160 starts the range with 19-inch alloys wheels, dual-zone climate control air-conditioning, reverse camera, front and rear parking sensors, bi-xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, Wi-Fi hotspot, keyless entry and push button start via smart key, electric power steering, cruise control, hill-descent control, quattro all-wheel drive, power tailgate, floor mats, chrome exhaust tips, electric front seats, leather trim, air-quality sensor, park assist, electric everything, auto wipers and headlights and a comprehensive safety package.

Rather than supplying a spare tyre, Audi gives you a tyre-repair kit.

Stepping up to the 200, the price increases to $106,900, with an attendant increase in horsepower. The basic specification is roughly the same between the two versions, with detail differences. 

The 200 adds four-zone climate control, a self-parking system, full body paint finish (body colour applied to the lower extremities of the car) and Audi's excellent 'Virtual Cockpit' digital dashboard.

The difference between the 160 and the 200 is small but useful. The diesel fuel economy is barely different, you get the same transmission, 4x4 system and overall comfort. 

Both 160 and 200 buyers have a wide choice of colours: 'Night Black' and 'Carrara White' are free. 'Orca Black', 'Galaxy Blue', 'Ink Blue', 'Cobra Beige' (more gold, really), 'Argus Brown', 'Graphite Grey', 'Temperament Red' and 'Florett Silver' are all $2250. 'Sepang Blue' and 'Daytona Grey' are $7050.

The e-tron adds the hybrid electric unit, loses the third row of seating and some cargo capacity and comes with a full suite of safety systems, heated front seats, 'Audi Connect', LED headlights, e-tron styling and adaptive air suspension. The options list is way shorter, however, but few e-trons find their way into customers' hands.

Audi e-tron buyers are down to seven colours: Night Black, Carrara White, Orca Black, Ink Blue, Graphite Grey and Florett Silver are all freebies.

The many iPhone users out there will be very pleased that Apple CarPlay is standard on the Q7, while Android Auto is also available. As always, Audi's MMI mutlimedia system is excellent. The big 8.3-inch screen is run by a console-mounted rotary dial and touchpad, but it's not yet a touch screen. 

GPS sat nav is available across the range. The navigation system can also have a Google Earth overlay. Obviously there is a mobile-phone bluetooth connection in addition to the USB. The multimedia gadgets include a CD player, DVD player, MP3 functionality and the usual AM/FM radio as well as DAB.

As it's an Audi, there's a huge options list as well as various packages to add to the lengthy standard features list. 

The $6200 'Technik' technology pack adds the excellent head-up display, plus nine speakers to the stereo (19 in total, including sub-woofer) and wireless phone charging.

The Assistance package includes additions to the safety list (see below).

Of course, the drive-away price can be significantly affected by options choice. The standard price list is just the start, and the amount you can choose to spend on options is breathtaking. 

You can upgrade the sound system to a thumping Bang & Olufsen with 23 speakers (including sub-woofer) for a whopping $13,990 (it's a good one), a panoramic sunroof for $3990, four-wheel steering for $2650, air suspension ($4690), 'Matrix LED' headlights ($4850), rear seat entertainment system, side steps, - you get the idea. If I have this right, you can almost double the cost of the Q7 with options.

The S-Line options are more an exterior design pack than the dynamic pack they used to be, offering ever-bigger alloy wheels, side skirts, darker tinted windows, subtle front spoiler and LED headlights.

Ceramic brakes with red brake calipers aren't available in 'standard' Q7s but are available on the sport edition SQ7.

Unavailable are autopilot self driving, tool kit, nudge bar, bull bar, auxiliary heater, heated steering wheel, sunglass holder, carbon fiber trim, 'Homelink', specific premium package and cargo liner.

Engine & trans

Audi SQ79/10

Powering the SQ7 is a 4.0-litre twin-turbo-diesel V8, outputting 320kW/900Nm, which sends drive to the road via Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive system and an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The result is a zero to 100km/h sprint time of just 4.8 seconds – making the SQ7 the world's quickest seven-seat diesel-powered SUV, according to Audi.

Audi has also fitted a 48-volt mild-hybrid system to the SQ7's powertrain, which feeds an electric-powered compressor to spool up a turbo quicker for better off-the-line acceleration.

Power and torque figures remain unchanged from the preceding SQ7, but the large Audi SUV has the distinction of being one of the only performance diesels in the segment.

Though power is a little lacking compared to its petrol-powered competitions, the SQ7 has the highest torque output of any large SUV available in Australia, matched only by the electrified Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid.

The SQ7 has a 3500kg braked towing capacity.


Audi Q7

All Q7s are available with same engine size - a turbo-diesel 3.0-litre V6. In the base model it spins up 160kW/500Nm. Step up to the second spec and with a bit of extra turbo boost and some software tweaks you have 200kW/600Nm. 

The e-tron plug-in hybrid runs the same diesel engine with an electric motor added. The diesel specs come in at 190kW/600Nm while the electric motor brings 94kW/350Nm to the party. It's not as simple as adding the figures together, however - Audi quotes the combined specifications as 275kW/700Nm. The battery is a 17.3kW/h lithium-ion pack under the boot floor.

Charging times vary from 2.5 hours from a 400V/16-amp supply to 10.5 hours from a household socket. 

All Q7s ship with an eight-speed automatic transmission (from ZF) with power going through all four wheels. All Australian Q7s are all-wheel drive.

Towing capacity is 750kg for unbraked trailers and 3500kg braked - the ratings are identical across the three trim levels. A tow bar is on the optional features list.

The 0-100km/h acceleration times are an impressive 6.2 seconds for the e-tron, 7.3 for the 160 and 6.5 for the 200. These are good performance numbers for a 2000kg-plus SUV with decent fuel mileage.

The question of whether the engines use a timing belt or chain has a simple answer - the Q7's engines all use a chain. The engine also features a diesel particulate filter and the turbocharger is inside the engine V for quick response. The oil type is listed in the owner's manual.

There is no manual transmission or LPG version.

Fuel consumption

Audi SQ79/10

Official fuel consumption figures are pegged at 7.8 litres per 100km in the SQ7, but we managed 11.5L/100km in our brief time with the car.

Tipping the scales at 2460kg, the SQ7 is surprising frugal for a large performance seven-seat SUV, likely due to a combination of its diesel engine and mild-hybrid set-up.

Between speeds of 55 and 160km/h, the 48-volt system can coast the SQ7 for up to 40 seconds, switching off the engine and conserving fuel.

Audi claims the system can save up to 0.5L/100km on fuel.


Audi Q7

For the 160kW, claimed consumption is listed at 5.8L/100km, while the 200kW is barely more at 5.9L/100km. Our time with a 200kW with a few options on board resulted in an average of 8.2L/100km.

On pure electric, Audi says you can shift the e-tron Q7 up to 56km with a top speed of 135km/h. This is purely academic - after a full charge we managed about 20km on pure electric, which isn't terrible but a fair way off the claimed range.

The e-tron's claimed combined consumption figure is 1.9L/100km but we got 4.5L/100km.

The fuel-tank capacity is a hefty 85 litres with the exception of the e-tron, which carries 10 fewer litres at 75.

As the Q7 is available only as a diesel or diesel PHEV, petrol consumption is a non-issue.

Driving

Audi SQ78/10

Performance large luxury seven-seat SUV might seem a bit contradictory, but Audi has managed to pull this feat off with astounding success.

The SQ7 drives fantastically well, both around town in its most comfortable settings and out in the twisties with the settings dialled all the way up.

This dual personality is largely thanks to its adaptive air suspension, which does a wonderful job at absorbing road imperfections in comfort, and giving the driver just the right amount of feedback in dynamic.

New to the 2020 SQ7 is also the standard inclusion of rear-wheel steering, which can turn the rear wheels up to five degrees at low speeds for improved manoeuvrability, and up to two degrees at high speed for better stability.

We've tested cars with rear-wheel steering before and weren't fans of its implementation due to the unnatural feel, but the SQ7 offers plenty of feedback from the steering wheel and chassis in the corners – or as much as a large SUV can communicate.

At low speeds the system comes in most handy, as the turning circle is cut to just 12.4 metres, making the SQ7 more agile in a parking lot than the much smaller Q3 crossover.

However, there is no getting around the SQ7's hefty 2460kg weight and higher ride height, which means it can be a little slow to change directions in quick corners, and will tend towards understeer when pushed.

Grip is plentiful thanks to the quattro all-wheel-drive system and thick 285/35 tyres all round, though buyers can also opt for a $10,900 Dynamic Package that throws in active roll stabilisation and a sports differential.

We sampled the Dynamic Package in the platform-sharing SQ8, and while the active roll stabilisation is fantastic at keeping occupants from being jerked around in the corners, we reckon it's not needed in the more family-friendly SQ7.

Bringing such a sizeable SUV to a stop are equally sizeable 400/350mm front/rear brake discs, with six-piston callipers up front.

The brakes work very well at scrubbing speed from this large 2.5-tonne SUV, but buyers can opt for ceramic brakes that add a substantial $19,000 to the pricetag.


Audi Q7

Hit the start stop button (like most cars, carefully hidden from view behind the steering wheel) and the 3.0-litre V6 starts quietly (or not at all in the e-tron). As soon as you're out driving, you realise how little road noise invades the cabin, even with the fat tyres all Q7s wear.

Acceleration is good in all of them, even the 160 feels quick. At speed, the cabin is super-quiet and with the air suspension the ride is almost supernaturally good. With the steel springs, you do feel the weight of the car more than with the air suspension, but it handles the bumps and grates of Sydney roads very well indeed.

The e-tron feels heavier, but the standard air suspension copes nicely with the extra bulk. In all other ways it feels extraordinarily similar to the 160 and 200, with the predictable penalty in handling. While the pure EV range might be a little disappointing, the stats tell a rosier story. Around town, you might see 0km in the digital display for electric range, but stepping off from a standstill - a big contributor to city fuel consumption - is electric, with the diesel quietly intervening at around 20km/h. All up, the MMI system told us electric drive accounted for half of city running.

From the day this Q7 landed on our roads, we've praised it for its overall refinement, good steering and handy chassis. Ride is excellent on the standard and air suspension, although the latter is clearly better but does add weight (and cost). 

This isn't an off-road review, but the capability of Audi's SUV range surprised me last year on a trip to the Audi Driving Experience where I put Q5s and Q7s through a reasonably tricky set of obstacles and alarming angles, all without the aid of off-road tyres.

Safety

Audi SQ79/10

Audi's latest SQ7 has not been tested by ANCAP, but it was awarded a maximum five-star rating by Euro NCAP after a Q7 50 TDI was examined in 2019.

It scored 92 and 86 per cent respectively in the adult occupant and child occupant protection tests, while for the vulnerable road users and safety assist categories, it notched 71 and 72 per cent.

Standard safety equipment includes autonomous emergency braking, eight airbags, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, surround-view monitor and exit-warning system to stop dooring cyclists.

According to Euro NCAP testing, the SQ7's AEB system works from 10km/h.

Of note though, the SQ7 lacks traffic-sign recognition, but does display speed-limit information based on GPS data.


Audi Q7

The Q7 arrives with six airbags, reverse cross traffic alert, traction and stability controls (aka ESP), forward (up to 85km/h) and reverse AEB, around-view cameras as well as forward and side, blind-spot sensor and lane-departure warning.

The 'Assistance' package ($3850) adds active lane assist and adaptive cruise control.

Oddly, traffic-sign recognition isn't available.

You can fix your ISOFIX baby car seat with the supplied two anchor points or three top-tether points in the middle row and a further two in the third row where fitted.

All of these combine for a five-star ANCAP safety rating, awarded in December 2015.

Ownership

Audi SQ77/10

As with all new Audi's the SQ7 comes with a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, with three years of roadside assist.

Audi's warranty trails behind the premium brand-leading five-year offerings from Mercedes-Benz and Genesis.

Service intervals for the SQ7 are set at 15,000km or 12 months, whichever comes first.

Audi also offers a three- or five-year service plan with the purchase of an SQ7, priced at $2870 and $3910 respectively.


Audi Q7

Audi offers a three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty along with roadside assist. An extended warranty is available from your dealer.

The maintenance cost of the Q7 is controllable if you purchase an Audi service plan. This covers the basic service costs for three years/45,000km and at the time of writing costs $1900.

The stocks of Q7s appear reasonable, particularly during the current dip in the luxury market, so unless you have a weird set of options, your waiting time will be short.

Second-hand resale value stats appear strong. Audi certainly got on top of the common problems, complaints, faults and issues of the first-gen and the new car appears free of major reliability issues. The automatic-gearbox problems and diesel-engine problems of the past seem absent during my usual sweep of prominent internet forums.

Where is the Audi Q7 built? Same place as the forthcoming Q8 - Audi's Slovakian factory in Bratislava.