In the lead up to Christmas a bit of extra space is always welcome, so the timing of the Audi Q7 50 TDI S line’s arrival couldn’t have been better.
With (Covid-safe) food and gift shopping an immediate priority, home-focused projects planned, and family road trips on the new year agenda, its spacious interior, generous boot, and grunty diesel engine lined up as a perfect match for the Cleary family’s seasonal needs.
Sitting second from the top of Audi’s flagship Q7 range, the 50 TDI S line is priced at $119,900, before on-road costs, a competitive number in the world of premium, seven-seat SUVs.
For example, BMW’s similarly powered, but entry-level X7 xDrive 30d sits at $133,900, a Land Rover Sport D16 HSE with seven-seat option ($3890) will set you back $143,575, and the Mercedes-Benz GLS 400d sits at $153,900.
Power comes courtesy of a 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel engine producing 210kW from 3500-4000rpm, and 600Nm from 2250-3250rpm. It’s matched up with an eight-speed ‘Tiptronic’ auto transmission, with drive going to all four wheels via Audi’s ‘quattro’ all-wheel drive system.
A 48-volt ‘mild-hybrid’ system is also on-board, primarily to aid fuel economy, by powering the standard stop-start system, and allowing the car to coast for up to 40 seconds (between speeds of 55km/h and 160km/h).
Our time with the big Audi started with shopping, including a trip to the local Christmas tree farm. We’re a family of five, and from that initial local run, occupying the Q7 felt comfortable and roomy without tipping over the edge into floaty and bloated. Loads of space in every direction but taut and well balanced.
And that’s Comfortable with a capital C. Four-zone climate control created a civilised oasis from Sydney’s hot, wet, and humid end-of-year weather. That combined with seats wrapped in top-shelf Valcona (aniline) leather, the sports pair up front heated and electrically-adjustable (with memory), and mega BOSE audio (19 speakers, 15-channel amp, and total output of 558 watts) are the tip of the equipment iceberg.
Three ultra-sleek screens - 12-3-inch for the configurable ‘Virtual Cockpit’ dash display, and 10.1-inch and 8.6-inch units for the MMI multimedia and ventilation systems - look amazing. That said, unsightly fingerprints build up on the latter two pretty quickly, although Audi includes a 'Cleaning cloth for touch displays' in the glove box.
The kids instantly fell in love with the adjustable ambient lighting (30 selectable colours, and six colour profiles), and a vast glass sunroof lets the light flood in.
With all 600Nm of maximum torque available from 2250-3250rpm, and eight gear ratios to keep things bubbling along, the Q7 is rarely out of its mid-range performance sweet spot. And the standard adaptive air suspension seamlessly irons out pock-marked suburban tracks.
Our first entry to the local (giant) shopping centre car park, served as a reminder that for such a substantial vehicle, (5.1m long, 2.0m wide, and 1.7m tall) and despite a sweeping 12.4m turning circle, the Q7 is relatively easy to maneuver with good visibility to its extremities, and light slow-speed (electrically-assisted) steering.
But it also confirmed the fact that the majority of models in Audi’s current range are mad beepers, with various proximity sensors firing off a series of increasingly frequent and aggressive beeps inside the cabin as parking maneuvers became even remotely tight.
That’s easily silenced by the push of a console button, but the downside is, doing so also turns off the reversing camera and (excellent) 360-degree overhead view, right when you need them most. Annoying.
As you’d expect, boot space is generous, and even with all seven seats up capacity sits at 295 litres, which is as much as a small hatch or city-sized SUV.
Drop the electrically-operated third row (via handy buttons near the back of the load space), and that grows to 740 litres. A configuration we’ll look at more closely in the next installment as holiday garden projects start to get off the ground.
The standard electric tailgate is a big plus, as is rear cross-traffic, especially in the unpredictable confines of a pre-Christmas shopping precinct.
Our first month’s driving covered 850km, and average fuel consumption (measured at the pump) came in at 8.9L/100km, which is pretty handy for such a big bus.
One month down, and we’re definitely looking forward to the next two, although we’d rather pass on the beep-fest.
Acquired: November 2020
Distance travelled this month: 850km
Average fuel consumption for December: 8.9L/100 (measured at the pump)