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Audi Q7 2010 Review

The Q7's unsettled low speed ride would be acceptable in a hot hatchback, but not a luxury barge.

"Less is more," is not a maxim that's gained much traction in the United States, the primary market for German bigger luxury SUVs.  With the GFC hangover having worn off and the free market hyenas shamelessly snarling to let the market find its own level, its back to "you gotta say yes to another excess".

Yet Audi has trimmed the fat from its Q7 range. Oh, it's as formidably 2.2 tonnes plus as ever, it's just that the atmo V6 and V8 petrol models have been shed for a more efficient unit.

VALUE

The revised range lurches off the mark at $88,614 for the 3.0 TDI with a more powerful yet more frugal diesel; followed by the 3.0 TFSI at $93,814 (our subject today); the 4.2 TDI quattro at $127,814 and that embodiment of excess, the V12 TDI, at $254,814.

The Q7 is built on the same underpinnings as Volkswagen's Touareg and Porsche's Cayenne and this model, the supercharged petrol V6, is priced closer to the latter. The value question is shaped by that engine - the other two make do with the still impressive but scarcely competitive naturally-aspirated 3.6 FSI for their six pot petrol option. The Audi's kills it.

That said, the ticking of but a few option boxes sees the Q7's price soar past the $100k plus Porsche. And though Audi's made great strides in all directions, not least brand perception, it's the former's badge that's going to win the private school run stakes.

TECHNOLOGY

It's a wonder the Q7 can spring forward at all, so bursting is it with technik. The new story here, however, is the drivetrain stuff.  With the exception of the Panzer powerful V12, the revised Q7s get eight-speed tiptronic transmissions, a slusher Audi says reduces fuel consumption by about five percent by keeping the engine's speed low and near its optimum operating point. In operation, its changes are barely perceptible and all but inaudible.

Quattro permanent all-wheel-drive is best appreciated in Audi's quicker passenger cars, but makes its presence felt even in this 2.24 tonne behemoth, feeding 40 per cent of power going to the front and 60 percent to the rear wheels in default running. PhD clever and cat-like in its reactions, the mechanical-action centre differential will, in extremis, send up to 65 percent of go to the front or up to 85 percent to the rear.

Despite a designation that suggests a turbo as per the rest of Audi's forced induction models, the 3.0 TFSI petrol V6 is a supercharged job that packs a V8 hassling 245kW and 440Nm to exploit.  Again, though best appreciated in the S4 sedan and S5/A7 Sportbacks, it's scarcely tardy in the Q7, getting it from standing to 100km/h in 6.9 seconds.

DESIGN

Well, it's a great big luxury SUV designed for great big luxury lovin' Yanks. In five seater mode, it's difficult to imagine anyone but them having credible complaints about passengers or storage space in the five metre bus.

SAFETY

Given that the related VW and Porsche have five star ratings in European crash testing, the Q7's four is something of an anomaly. The revised version has not been tested and Audi confidently await the day.

Hard to fault the active or passive packages though, with eight airbags, stability/traction control, anti-lock brakes with brake assist, parking sensors and a reversing camera standard.

DRIVING

A life-affirming, smile-inducing, addiction forming engine feels merely better than adequate here. Moreover it struggles, even at freeway cruising speeds, to realise its combined conditions fuel claim of 10.7l/100km returns fuel consumption.  That, of course, is to compare cheetahs with a fat cat. Yet buyers of the latter - not unreasonably expecting cushion comfort - won't find it here, at least not without the costly optional extra air suspension.

Audi is at its worst when it sacrifices compliance for the pretence of "sportiness", which it any case fails to deliver. The Q7's unsettled low speed ride would be acceptable in a hot hatchback, but not a luxury barge. The former's return comes in the form of responsive and rewarding dynamics; the Q7 falls short here too.

Sure, it's capable enough for its class, with abundant grip and adequately curtailed body roll, but those globulous dimensions are always apparent. Nor can it hope to compete dynamically with BMW's X5, not with steering that is -as is almost always the Ingolstadt way - devoid of feel and feedback.  Audi can't decide what its big SUV should be and, in its uncertainty, achieved neither.

VERDICT

Buy the diesel

AUDI Q7 3.0T

Price: $93,814
Engine: 3.0 supercharged V6 petrol; 245kW/440Nm
Transmission: 8-speed auto; AWD
Thirst: 10.71L/100km (claimed)

Pricing Guides

$29,777
Based on 21 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$22,950
Highest Price
$34,900

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
3.0 TDI Quattro 3.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $22,950 – 34,900 2010 Audi Q7 2010 3.0 TDI Quattro Pricing and Specs
3.0 TFSI Quattro 3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $22,990 – 28,380 2010 Audi Q7 2010 3.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs
3.6 FSI Quattro 3.6L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $28,930 – 34,870 2010 Audi Q7 2010 3.6 FSI Quattro Pricing and Specs
4.2 FSI Quattro 4.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $23,430 – 28,930 2010 Audi Q7 2010 4.2 FSI Quattro Pricing and Specs