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Audi Q7 2008 Review

Audi's pricey but highly accomplished Q7.

Nudging its electronically governed 236km/h top speed, the behemoth Audi Q7 cannonballed down the autobahn's outer left lane. For tens of kilometres, this 2.4 tonnes of luxury SUV vied effortlessly with a BMW 7 Series, the Audi's 4.2-litre diesel V8 delivering 760Nm of turbine-like thrust put down to the billiard-table tarmac through all four wheels via a six-speed Tiptronic auto.

Slower vehicles segued smoothly to the inside lanes as we blurred the Bavarian boondocks. Thus we spent a morning last northern spring on the approaches to Munich in the most powerful vehicle of its type.

It could have been an advertisement for the efficacy of western Europe's freeways and wisdom of teaching drivers to drive.

That was then; this is now.

Now we're in Sydney. The vehicle is identical, save for the steering wheel being on the right, but the quickest lane is still the left (although, given that the right lane is more often than not occupied by zombies doing 75km/h in 80 zones, quickest is hardly the word).

The Q7 runs lean — amazingly so for its size and weight — but too many of the diesel pumps you encounter at filling time are fit only for trucks and covered in a stinking patina of slime.

And, as though to emphasise that what is — for now — Audi's halo SUV (a1000Nm V12 diesel is mooted) is just too much for the auto backwater that is Australia's biggest city, even the weather is grim.

Unless you live in America (or in Mosman) and therefore find using a massive SUV for daily urban driving entirely sound and reasonable, there's something just a bit mad about this Q7.

Audi is making ever better all-wheel-drive cars in less bloated form. The forthcoming A4 Avant will be a stylish load-carrier. The yet-to-be released Q5 medium SUV could very well be another.

The current 3.0 TDI Allroad is a good SUV/wagon compromise: a bit like a Subaru Outback, except with a great six-cylinder diesel engine and a weepingly expensive price tag.

Of course, some of you just have to have an SUV and, in the 18 months they've been on sale locally, the lesser Q7s have done well.

The Q7 can also seat seven, although the rearmost two had better not be adults. And this provision, as Audi has been obliged to make abundantly clear in its advertising, costs extra.

In isolation — and even at $124K — the 4.2 TDI is pretty compelling. Forbiddingly big though it is, it's no great chore to drive or even park, thanks to vast wing mirrors and an indispensable reversing camera.

Forward motion obviously isn't going to be a concern with all that torque on tap, but it's snatchy at low speeds.

Urban fuel use of 16 litres per 100km is just one way in which it justifies its premium over the V8 petrol version.

Thing is, you'd really need to be towing a trailer full of elephants on a regular basis — or just really “have to” have the top model — to justify the circa $40K spend over the base diesel 3.0 TDI. Most of the time, that's all the Q7 you could want.

Especially in this neck of the woods.


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Range and Specs

3.0 TDI Quattro 3.0L, Diesel, 6 SP $13,780 – 18,999 2008 Audi Q7 2008 3.0 TDI Quattro Pricing and Specs
3.6 FSI Quattro 3.6L, PULP, 6 SP $20,500 – 27,830 2008 Audi Q7 2008 3.6 FSI Quattro Pricing and Specs
3.6 FSI Quattro SE 3.6L, PULP, 6 SP $18,800 – 26,180 2008 Audi Q7 2008 3.6 FSI Quattro SE Pricing and Specs
4.2 FSI Quattro 4.2L, PULP, 6 SP $10,600 – 15,510 2008 Audi Q7 2008 4.2 FSI Quattro Pricing and Specs