Audi SQ7 VS Range Rover
- Improved value
- Punchy diesel engine
- Cutting-edge interior
- Hefty weight
- Touchscreens are finger-print magnets
- Short warranty
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.
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?
|Engine Type||4.0L turbo|
As part of the Jaguar Land Rover family, Range Rover will be part of the group's push into an electrified future from 2020 - and it's already had some practice, albeit not very successfully.
The brand new PHEV 400e, though, already looks better than its previous efforts. With up to 51km of pure electric range claimed, is this the Rangie for a new age?
|Engine Type||4.4L turbo|
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.
Our testing was far too brief to give a considered opinion of the PHEV's capabilities, particularly when it comes to the claimed 51km range of the car under battery power alone. We'll need to drive it locally, and with a juiced battery, to rate its abilities properly.
In terms of it having the chops to be a proper, luxurious Range Rover, it's possible to say that yes, that box has been ticked. Even with a smaller engine, the Range Rover (as tested) passed muster for ride, quiet running and comfort.
Is a petrol-electric hybrid your kind of Range Rover? Tell us in the comments section below.
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.
The Range Rover Sport is the smaller sibling of the Rangie, but both share the same DNA if not the same body panels.
Both shapes remain pretty faithful to the original Range Rover that first surfaced in the 1980s, with its distinctive floating roof, angular rear aspect and bluff nose, though features like the vertical door handles – and indeed the two-door design – of the original are long gone. Both present bluff, vaguely masculine visages, with large glasshouses accentuating their relative sizes.
Inside, both cars are spacious and airy, thanks to that big glasshouse, while the luxury quotient of both is high, thanks to highly refined surface areas and touch points.
About the only let down is the new dual multimedia screen's propensity to show both finger marks and glare, though adjusting the angle of the lower screen does reduce the latter.
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.
Both PHEVs are five-seat propositions only, with additional features set aside for rear seaters including climate controls and vents, loads of connectivity points, touch LED courtesy lights and a comprehensive middle armrest that offers storage and two cupholders.
ISOFIX points are mounted to the outside seats, bottles can be slotted in the doors, and both heating and massage functions can be optioned, along with headrest mounted control tablets.
Front seaters are equally cossetted, with heating, venting and massage seats available via the options list, along with a new, deeper centre console bin, a pair of cupholders and small bottle holders in each of the doors.
One of the big omissions on the hybrid car is any form of spare wheel, thanks to the battery array under the boot floor. A sealant kit and compressor is included, but if the hole is big enough, it won't help.
How do we know? A double flat down the right side of a test car rendered it a lame duck, thanks to large tears in the sidewall of one tyre.
The rear storage area loses 98 litres of space to the regular cars, too, with 802 litres available behind the rear seats, thanks to the load space floor height increasing by 46mm.
Price and features
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.
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.
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.
To start off, Range Rover Australia will only offer the PHEV drivetrain in two variants; the Range Rover Vogue PHEV 400e will cost around $210,000, while the smaller Range Rover Sport HSE PHEV 400e will start at around $146,000.
Both models will share the same drivetrain, which uses a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine and an 85kW electric motor to output 297kW/640Nm in total. Both cars are all-wheel drive, and have eight-speed autos as the only transmission option.
The Range Rover is the second most expensive variant in the four-engine line-up, only $1000 cheaper than the top-spec V8. The Sport, meanwhile, is about $3800 under the top spec HSE, and $12,000 dearer than the base six-cylinder powered version.
The pair makes up part of Range Rover's MY18 updated line-up, and both will score a new front bumper and grille, as well as new matrix LED headlights that can dim individual diodes to prevent blinding oncoming traffic. The rear bar has been lightly tweaked, too.
Inside, the pair come with the same dual multimedia screen system that launched with the Range Rover Velar, along with other small tweaks to interior finishes.\
As you'd expect, the Rangies are pretty well equipped, given their price point, with automated lights and wipers, leather interior, up to 17 (!) USB and 12v ports, heated and vented seats, sat nav, DAB+ digital radio, a Wi-Fi hot spot, a heated steering wheel, digital TV and Bluetooth streaming.
They both come with AEB as standard, but other driver aids like blind spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control are buried within the extensive options lists.
Engine & trans
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.
Parent company Jaguar has supplied its top spec Ingenium 221kW 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine, eight-speed auto and proper 4x4 drivetrain for the PHEV, matching it with an 85kW electric motor, 13.1kW/h battery array, transformer and inverter, as well as a charging plug under the front grille.
Combined outputs equal 297kW/640Nm.
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.
Range Rover claims an impressive combined fuel economy total of 2.8 litres per 100km... with the caveat that the battery array must be charged to full capacity.
A 13.1kWh battery that promises an EV range of 51km from a full charge complements its 105-litre petrol tank. Given, however, that our road test loop was less than 20km and the battery wasn't fully charged, we'll wait until we drive the PHEV on home soil to confirm the figures.
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.
Our time aboard the PHEV involved a little on-road work and a proportion of muddy, slick, off-roading that went a long way towards showing off the Rangie's dual personality.
With its array of digital off-road modes that includes snow, grass, gravel, rut and sand, the Rangie tackled some truly testing unsealed scenarios, including a river ford at 600mm (the Sport has an 850mm wading depth, the Rangie itself a 900mm rating), along with some of the slickest mud sections this tester had ever encountered.
And it handled them with aplomb, too. Whether you plan to take your $200k SUV off-road or not is irrelevant – the point is that it's built to do it, all day every day if need be.
On road, the 221kW 2.0-litre turbocharged engine is strong enough to haul the 2500-odd kilogram Rangie up to the national limit without too much fuss, thanks to the 85kW electric motor chiming in as required to boost the bottom line.
Unfortunately, we're not able to verify Range Rover's claims of 51km of electric range, because our tester was presented to us with less than 25km range – and that was quickly burned away on a two km EV-only off-road section.
We managed to restore five per cent of charge through regenerative braking and, erm, excessive revs over our short test run back to base, but we'll have to wait until it's on home soil to get a definitive read on the range of the PHEV.
Other road manners are typically Range Rover-like, with an imperious ride over road bumps, almost eerie silence from road and wind noise and excellent road manners in all modes – including the new-to-Range Rover 'Dynamic' mode.
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.
While AEB and lane departure warning are standard along with a rear view camera and front and rear sensors, other driver aids like adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist must be purchased as optional extras.
Both the Range Rover and the standard Range Rover Sport hold maximum five-star ANCAP ratings.
As with all new Audi's the SQ7 comes with a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, with three years of roadside assist.
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.
Range Rover recommends servicing every 12 months or 26,000km, or more regularly if you use it in the bush on a regular basis. It offers a three-year, 100,000km warranty as standard, with free roadside assistance for the duration of the warranty.
No fixed price service plan is currently offered.