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Diesel has made enormous inroads into SUVs but there are still buyers who seek the relative silence and smoothness of a petrol engine, let alone the cleaner refuelling process at the servo, especially in a premium brand often used by soccer mums.
Audi, for its big Q7 all-wheel-drive wagons, offers just one petrol engine in the four-model range. As you might expect from a modern German motor, it's a good 'un.
The Q7 is well-credentialled as a large SUV that doesn't mind going on to the dirt; the three-litre V6 supercharged petrol engine makes a classy way of doing it.
Compared with their sedan, let alone coupe, cousins on the showroom floor, you get a lot of vehicle when buying big SUVs with premium brand badge, The Audi Q7 with this V6 petrol motor at $93,814 is second-cheapest in the Q7 range ($88,614 - $254,814). The A6 sedan with a matching V6 petrol engine, for example, is $114,500. The Q7 V6 petrol includes quattro AWD, eight-speed tiptronic transmission, climate control, leather interior, reversing camera, parking sensors, power front seats, 11-speaker sound system and downhill assist.
We're concentrating on the engine here. It's a three-litre, direct-injection V6 with supercharger and intercooler of an almost V8-like 245kW power and 440Nm torque, able to accelerate a 2.3-tonne biggie 0-100km/h in 7sec yet rated at 10.7 litres/100km fuel use (we averaged 11.2). It makes a good marriage with the intelligent eight-speed tiptronic automatic. Two-stage ESP is clever, too. It has a lavish information and car set-up screen.
At over 5m long and 198cm wide (plus mirrors), the Q7 has presence and lots of interior space. Two pop-up seats make a third row. But for a large luxury vehicle the middle spot of the regular second row of seats is firm and unwelcoming. A 100-litre tank will give good range for Aussie touring but it has a space-saver spare wheel.
Eight airbags, brake assist, ABS, daytime, running lights and ESP with an off-road mode stack up well. ANCAP's only test of a Q7 was five years ago when it scored four stars.
You won't enjoy the size of this SUV in tight car parks but the interior space is welcome away from there. So much space that tyre noise rumbles slightly through the cavernous interior. Driver and passengers enjoy good room.
The V6 supercharged petrol engine easily copes with the Q7's weight. But continual stop-start thick traffic motoring will ruin fuel economy. On the open road, fuel economy is tolerable, as it sits on 1950rpm at 110km/h.
The eight-speed tiptronic shifts down automatically on no throttle - a help for engine braking and ready in the right gear to accelerate away.
Off the bitumen it has 204mm ground clearance and a 21-degree approach angle but no low-range gearing although 55-profile tyres are more suitable on dirt than many on luxury SUVs. We liked the off-road mode for the ESP, allowing a certain amount of wheelspin; not intrusive yet helping the big thing to charge around corners on gravel as if on rails. The centre diff can direct up to 65 per cent power to the front wheels or up to 85 per cent to the rear. Ride is pleasant enough.
Including a hills-country outing, we averaged 11.2 litres/100km but more thick traffic and it would have been worse.
It's simple: if you like the Audi Q7 as your choice of big, premium SUV and you prefer petrol over diesel, then this V6 TFSI is the one, indeed the only one.
AT A GLANCE
Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI quattro
WARRANTY: Three years, unlimited km
RESALE: est. 59 per cent
SERVICE INTERVAL: 15,000km/12 months
SAFETY: Four-star ANCAP (2006 test)
ENGINE: 245kW/440Nm three-litre, dohc, 24-valve, supercharged V6 petrol
FUEL: 10.7 litres/100km, on test 11.2. Petrol 95RON
CO2 EMISSION: 249g/km
BODY: Five-door wagon
DIMENSIONS: 5089mm (l), 1983mm (w), 1737mm (h), 3002 (wb) WEIGHT 2240kg
TYRE SIZE: 255/55x18
SPARE TYRE: Space saver
|3.0 TDI Quattro||3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$22,800 – 30,910||2011 Audi Q7 2011 3.0 TDI Quattro Pricing and Specs|
|3.0 TFSI Quattro||3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$29,800 – 39,050||2011 Audi Q7 2011 3.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs|
|4.2 TDI Quattro||4.1L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$27,000 – 35,750||2011 Audi Q7 2011 4.2 TDI Quattro Pricing and Specs|
|6.0 TDI Quattro||5.9L, Diesel, 6 SP||$49,300 – 62,370||2011 Audi Q7 2011 6.0 TDI Quattro Pricing and Specs|