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Audi Q7 3.0 TDI quattro Tiptronic 2015 review

EXPERT RATING
8
Derek Ogden road tests and reviews the Audi Q7 with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its Australian launch.

It has been nine years since the Audi Q7 was introduced in Australia. In what has become legendary in local car launch history, several of the large luxury sports utility vehicles traversed the country from east to west with assorted media members behind the wheel.

I was lucky enough to cover the 1600km from Birdsville to Uluru. After conquering Big Red - the iconic super sand dune outside town - we struck out south on the Birdsville Track, rounded the southern end of Lake Eyre, took the Oodnadatta Track north, turned west at William Creek for Coober Pedy and finally headed up the Stuart Highway to the Rock. The Q7 took it all in its stride.

Although the new model is not on sale in Australia until September, Audi Australia shipped in a limited number for the media to evaluate. This time the distance covered on the drive program was less than half that in 2006 and more than a fraction less interesting – on bitumen between Melbourne and Adelaide via the Grampians – but was just as illustrative as before, showing the new Q7 to be a spacious, comfortable, high-performance cruiser of the top order.

As you can imagine, after nine years there has had to be a lot done to bring it up to present-day standards. The Q7 now has the largest interior in the segment, has shed up to 240kg and sets the standard for driving assistance and multimedia systems.

At 5.05m long, 1.97m wide and 1.74m tall, the Q7 is big - but using a mix of lightweight materials the body alone saves 71kg, while aluminium doors chop off a further 95kg, making it one of the lightest in its class.

the Q7 offers plenty of space for up to seven occupants in three rows of seats

Being a big vehicle, the new Q7 is determined to look like one. Sculptural single-frame radiator grille, quattro blisters on the wheels, raked windscreen, steep D-pillars and wraparound tailgate see to that. Optional LED or LED Matrix headlamps add a flash of high-tech brilliance to the package.

With the largest interior in the segment, the Q7 offers plenty of space for up to seven occupants in three rows of seats. The second row has plenty of slide fore and aft and tumble forward to give easy access to the third row, which, alas, offers only kid-friendly leg room.

This row folds flat electrically at the touch of a button to present a flat floor for taking cargo – 770L to 1955L – with a tailgate that opens electrically at the wave of your foot. There's also ISOFIX child seat mounts for all five rear seats. 

Engineers from all sections put their heads together to come up with the sporty ride and handling characteristics of a much smaller, performance-focused vehicle. Body roll, for example, is well controlled, even at speed, and the ride on degraded surfaces is a factor of the wheels fitted – standard 19-inch, or optional 20 or 21-inch – and vehicle behaviour dialled up by the driver, from efficiency, comfort, auto, dynamic, individual and off-road as standard modes, through the Audi drive select.

A new engine, in Australia, the 3.0 TDI turbo-charged V6 diesel - at 5.9L/100km - consumes markedly less fuel than the previous model – while with 200kW on tap, launching the big wagon to 100km/h from standstill in just 6.5 seconds.

Mated with an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission and quattro permanent all-wheel drive, regularly on route the Q7's 600Nm was called on while overtaking slower-moving vehicles, which it did with nary a shrug of the shoulders.

Adaptive air suspension ($4950) can adjust the ride position of the body. At the off-road level, which is limited to 80km/h, the body rises 25mm above normal, while at the lift level (up to 30km/h) 35mm is added. For easy loading the body lowers 55mm at the press of a button.

Also an option is all-wheel steering, a first in the SUV segment. The rear axle incorporates a steering system, which turns the wheels a few degrees when the vehicle changes direction, either with the front wheels or in the opposite direction - depending on the vehicle speed.

In nine years, multimedia systems have come a long way: welcome to the Audi virtual cockpit. MMI navigation plus an MMI all-in-touch make use of a 12.3-inch high-resolution screen displaying detailed instrument images.

Also an option is all-wheel steering, a first in the SUV segment

The driver can switch between two interfaces. In infotainment mode, a dominant central window provides the navigation map or phone lists, radio and audio details, while the tachometer and speedometer are displayed as small dials to the right and left.

In the so-called classical view, the central window is smaller and the instruments appear as normal analogue size. The virtual cockpit is operated via the multifunction steering wheel. A head-up windscreen display is an option.

On the centre console, the MMI navigation plus includes a rotary/push button control and two switches for basic menus. However, the main interface consists of a touchpad through which characters can be entered or the map entered, while resting the wrist on the gearshift lever.

The system includes a DVD drive, two card readers, a flash memory, the Audi sound system, Audi music interface with two USB ports, a Bluetooth interface and 8.3-inch high-resolution monitor.

There's also access to the smartphone voice control; it displays emails from a mobile phone and reads them aloud, and allows five free online updates for the navigation map at six-month intervals.

The new Q7 offers a choice of two optional audio systems from Bose or Bang & Olufsen, both offering the new 3-D sound. Two Bose or four Bang & Olufsen additional speakers in the A-pillars provide the dimension of height, lending the music a concert hall quality, as if played from a large virtual stage.

Cost of the new Q7 starts at $103,900 plus on-roads, but with a host of options to add individuality prices can soon rise considerably. For example, one vehicle at launch with additions such as 21-inch wheels ($4950), Audi Connect ($750), an Assistance Package with adaptive cruise control and active lane assist ($4075), matrix beam LED headlights ($5500), adaptive air suspension ($4900) and Bang & Olufsen audio for a whopping $14,850, had its price pushed out to $147,850.

Verdict

Asked why it had taken nearly a decade to replace the original Q7, Audi Australia managing director Andrew Doyle said Audi in Germany had considered the model such a sales success it was in no hurry to retire it. There could be pent-up demand.

Pricing Guides

$64,935
Based on 58 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$39,800
Highest Price
$79,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
3.0 TDI Quattro 3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $39,800 – 79,990 2015 Audi Q7 2015 3.0 TDI Quattro Pricing and Specs
3.0 TDI Quattro S-Line LE 3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $56,870 – 65,340 2015 Audi Q7 2015 3.0 TDI Quattro S-Line LE Pricing and Specs
3.0 TFSI Quattro 3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $58,960 – 67,760 2015 Audi Q7 2015 3.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs
4.2 TDI Quattro 4.1L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $86,900 – 99,880 2015 Audi Q7 2015 4.2 TDI Quattro Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8