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Audi SQ7 2023 review: Family test

It's got the power with its new engine but does it suit families as well as performance-seekers?

I’ll be honest with you, Audi is not a car brand I’ve had much to do with. I was a total newbie when I slid into the front seat of the new SQ7 TFSI but what an introduction to the brand!

The SQ7 is in the ‘large performance SUV’ category but it does have tough competition from the likes of the BMW X5 M60i and Range Rover Sport P530.  

Its rivals are from brands that are well-established at the forefront of luxury and performance, so, does the SQ7 hold its own? My little family and I have been testing it for the last week to find out for you.

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Price and features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

The SQ7 is a performance SUV and that means you’re paying for some heavy-hitting engine specs. As such, expect to pay $166,400 before any on-road costs or optional extras.

That puts it just under the cheapest of its competitors, so it doesn’t feel outrageous for what you get.

Our model has been finished in 'Matador Red' and I was pleased to see paintwork options are included in the base price (as they should be).

The SQ7 wears a price tag of $166,400 before any on-road costs or optional extras. (Image: Brett Sullivan) The SQ7 wears a price tag of $166,400 before any on-road costs or optional extras. (Image: Brett Sullivan)

Our model does have the 'Sensory Package', which adds $13,300 to the price tag but that bundle includes some cool features like an extended leather dashboard, a synthetic suede headliner, an 'Advanced 3D' 23-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, an air quality system (with built-in perfume!), a front seat massage and ventilation function and heated rear outboard seats.

Even without the package, it’s still fairly well-specified with its diamond-quilted 'Valcona' leather trim, HD Matrix LED lighting, customisable ambient lighting, as well as wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to name just a few.

The 'Sensory Package' adds features including an extended leather dashboard and a synthetic suede headliner. (Image: Brett Sullivan) The 'Sensory Package' adds features including an extended leather dashboard and a synthetic suede headliner. (Image: Brett Sullivan)

Design – Is there anything interesting about its design?

The SQ7 has always had a certain understated glamour about it. It’s usual to see these cars in the monochromatic hues that European manufacturers seem to favour, so it can slip under the radar a little.

Not our example, in its Matador Red, a colour which accentuates the red calipers behind the 22-inch alloy wheels and makes the LED headlights pop.

The nose is pronounced with only a small ‘SQ7’ badge hinting at what’s beneath the long bonnet.

The Matador Red paint makes the LED headlights pop. (Image: Brett Sullivan) The Matador Red paint makes the LED headlights pop. (Image: Brett Sullivan)

There’s quite a bit you can customise and one of the options is sporty black accents across the bodywork, as per our test car.

The interior hosts a plethora of soft touchpoints, leather trims and shiny black piano finishes to create a premium finish.

The panoramic sunroof and dark grey headliner (which is apart of that Sensory Package) further enhances the sense of luxury.

The SQ7 wears 22-inch alloy wheels. (Image: Brett Sullivan) The SQ7 wears 22-inch alloy wheels. (Image: Brett Sullivan)

The sports seats are finished in a Valcona leather trim that’s diamond quilted but the headrests are fixed, which might not thrill taller occupants.

Overall, the SQ7 is a large SUV being 5067mm long, 1970mm wide and 1743mm high.

Those dimensions almost challenge the Kia Carnival, which is a people mover! Make sure it will fit in your garage before buying it. 

The interior features shiny black piano finishes to create a premium feel. (Image: Brett Sullivan) The interior features shiny black piano finishes to create a premium feel. (Image: Brett Sullivan)

Practicality – How practical is its space and tech inside?

It’s missing a few little family items found on other large SUVs but it’s still a fairly practical family car. The cabin is spacious but passenger comfort has been prioritised over storage options.

Front and middle row occupants enjoy most of the room but third rowers will be comfortable on short journeys.

I would be saving these seats for the kids on longer trips, unless you want to get dagger eyes from any adult passengers stuck back there as the amenities aren’t as extensive as you might like with only two cupholders, a reading light and air vents (which aren’t directional).

The cabin is spacious but passenger comfort has been prioritised over storage options. (Image: Brett Sullivan) The cabin is spacious but passenger comfort has been prioritised over storage options. (Image: Brett Sullivan)

With the Sensory Package included, the inside is an example of luxury with its heated and ventilated front seats, as well as the heated outboard seats in the middle row.

I love the massage function up front and that it’s customisable for intensity and position. The heated steering wheel is also a nice feature on the chilly days we’ve been having lately.

The tech is quite good with dual 12.3-inch touchscreens stacked on the dash and centre console.

The SQ7 features heated outboard seats in the middle row. (Image: Brett Sullivan) The SQ7 features heated outboard seats in the middle row. (Image: Brett Sullivan)

They have haptic feedback, which means they vibrate when you touch them, but curiously this feature disappears while you’re using the wireless Apple CarPlay.

It did take a little while to get used to the Audi system and the haptic feedback, but once you do it’s easy to handle. There’s Bluetooth, digital radio, wired Android Auto and built-in satellite navigation, too.

The head-up display is super clear and displays the sat nav guidance and speed. What I really love is the four-zone climate control – meaning the middle row can get some further adjustments for ultimate comfort.

Middle row passengers get a couple of USB-C ports but third rowers miss out. (Image: Brett Sullivan) Middle row passengers get a couple of USB-C ports but third rowers miss out. (Image: Brett Sullivan)

Charging options are okay with the front enjoying a wireless charging pad, two USB-C ports and a 12-volt socket. Middle row passengers also get a couple of USB-C ports but third rowers miss out.

I was surprised by the lack of storage throughout and this leads me to think this would suit older families best. For example, the middle console is large enough to only fit a phone. Still, each row gets two cupholders and a drink bottle holder in each door.

The boot is an acceptable size with all seats in use at 295L but with the third row stored, it jumps up to a more respectable 770L. There are stacks of different storage accessories available to purchase, if you need extra space.

The boot is an acceptable size with all seats in use at 295L. (Image: Brett Sullivan) The boot is an acceptable size with all seats in use at 295L. (Image: Brett Sullivan)

The third row is a 50/50 split and the middle row has a very practical 35/30/35 split, which opens up the storage options.

The level load space is handy for the grocery run. But there’s no underfloor storage, and you don’t get a spare tyre, just a puncture repair kit.

A powered tailgate is handy, although this one's a bit faster than others I’ve sampled.

With the SQ7's third row stored, boot capacity jumps up to 770L. (Image: Brett Sullivan) With the SQ7's third row stored, boot capacity jumps up to 770L. (Image: Brett Sullivan)

Under the bonnet – What are the key stats for its engine and transmission?

The new TFSI engine in the SQ7 is monstrous. It’s a 4.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V8 with maximum outputs of 373kW/770Nm.

To say it’s powerful is an understatement. This would be at home on the autobahn and my son cheered whenever I had to get up to speed.

It, of course, replaces the SQ7’s iconic diesel V8. The old TDI unit had 53kW less power but 130Nm more torque. However, the new engine delivers on power with aplomb.

The eight-speed auto transmission glides effortlessly through its changes and the all-wheel drive drivetrain is responsive.

Under the SQ7's bonnet is a 4.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V8. (Image: Brett Sullivan) Under the SQ7's bonnet is a 4.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V8. (Image: Brett Sullivan)

Efficiency – What is its fuel consumption? What is its driving range?

With great power comes… okay fuel efficiency. Actually, better than okay considering the twin-turbo V8 engine. The official combined cycle fuel figure is 11.9L/100km and real-world testing saw my figure at 13.2L.

Considering how hard I drove this and the type of driving I did this week, which was a combo of open-road and urban, this is very respectable. Expect it to be much higher in the city, though.

The SQ7 has a large 85-litre fuel tank and based on the official combined figure, you should be able to get around 714km of driving range. That isn’t as great as more fuel-efficient options but still good for those who like their road trips.

Audi recommends a minimum of 95 RON premium fuel with a preference for 98 RON for ultimate efficiency.

The official combined cycle fuel figure of the SQ7 is 11.9L/100km. (Image: Brett Sullivan) The official combined cycle fuel figure of the SQ7 is 11.9L/100km. (Image: Brett Sullivan)

Driving – What's it like to drive?

The performance is awesome and I made excuses all week to hop in and drive it. It doesn’t hurt that when you press the push-button start, the engine rumbles and growls. There’s even a ‘spitting’ sound as the turbo fires up. It all promises fun.

While the power feels immense, you do have to get used to how to handle it. For example, when you first shift into gear and pull your foot off the brake, the car lurches forward as if it’s rearing to go. It took me a couple of days to get used to the little quirks of it. 

The steering is controlled and responsive, adapting to the conditions and speed at which you’re driving. If you’re accelerating hard, the steering turns a little stiff and the seat belt tucks you into your seat, reaffirming the addition of that S in the model name.

The new TFSI engine has maximum outputs of 373kW/770Nm. (Image: Brett Sullivan) The new TFSI engine has maximum outputs of 373kW/770Nm. (Image: Brett Sullivan)

The cabin is very quiet and there’s no shuddering or vibration to be felt through the steering or seat.

The SQ7 features sports adaptive air suspension and it's dependant on how you drive and what drive mode you’re in. It makes for an extremely comfortable journey and not just for those in the front. The rear passengers are nicely cushioned, too.

This is a big car but you don’t feel those dimensions when you park it. Even with its 12.4m turning circle, it’s not cumbersome with the adaptive steering.

The dynamic 360-degree view camera is super clear but the parking sensors are too sensitive for my liking. It might just have been an oddity on the particular model I drove but the emergency braking did pop on a few times (scaring the hell out of me every time!).

The cabin is very quiet and there’s no shuddering or vibration to be felt through the steering or seat. (Image: Brett Sullivan) The cabin is very quiet and there’s no shuddering or vibration to be felt through the steering or seat. (Image: Brett Sullivan)

Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What is its safety rating?

The SQ7 has a healthy suite of safety features with the following being standard: LED daytime running lights, lane departure alert, lane keeping aid, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, dynamic 360-degree view reversing camera (it turns with the direction of the steering wheel), dynamic parking guidelines, front and rear parking sensors, rear occupant alert, intelligent seatbelt monitoring and adaptive cruise control.

It also features an active bonnet, meaning it will lift up and away from the engine if the sensors detect that a pedestrian has been hit. As well as an SOS emergency call button.

The SQ7 features HD Matrix LED lighting. (Image: Brett Sullivan) The SQ7 features HD Matrix LED lighting. (Image: Brett Sullivan)

It has AEB and forward collision warning with car, pedestrian and cyclist detection which is operational from 10-85 km/h (10-250 km/h for car detection). It is usual to see it operational from 5.0km/h, though.  

The SQ7 achieved a maximum five-star safety rating from testing conducted in 2019. It only has six airbags, which is fairly low for a family car, but that does include curtain airbags covering all three rows.

The SQ7 features intelligent seatbelt monitoring for added safety. (Image: Brett Sullivan) The SQ7 features intelligent seatbelt monitoring for added safety. (Image: Brett Sullivan)

Ownership – What warranty is offered? What are its service intervals? What are its running costs?

If I was spending my hard-earned cash on a vehicle like this, I would want to be treated like a queen when it comes to servicing.

Manufacturers should sweeten the pot when it comes to on-going servicing and ownership terms when you’re at this level but the SQ7 just comes with a pretty standard five-year/unlimited km warranty.

You can pre-purchase a five-year/75,000km servicing plan and it will set you back a total of $4100 (or an average of $810 per service), which is expensive but not outrageous for a performance vehicle.

Servicing intervals are reasonable at every 12 months or 15,000km, which is good.

Audi provides the SQ7 with comes with a pretty standard five-year/unlimited km warranty. (Image: Brett Sullivan) Audi provides the SQ7 with comes with a pretty standard five-year/unlimited km warranty. (Image: Brett Sullivan)


The Wrap

The Audi SQ7 TFSI is a delight to drive. You can’t fault its handling or power and drivers who want that sort of performance will not be disappointed. However, for the price point I was hoping for sweeter ongoing ownership costs and terms. It's missing a few family-orientated amenities, particularly in the middle row, but it’s big enough to accommodate a large family and all of its gear. So, I give this an 8.0/10.

My son thought the red paintwork and engine were pretty cool and he also gives it an 8.0/10. 

Likes

That engine baby, it drives how it sounds
Lots of luxury features
Loads of internal space

Dislikes

Ongoing ownership costs don't set it apart from cheaper rivals
Very sensitive parking sensors
Missing a few family-friendly features

Scores

Emily:

4

The Kids:

4

$162,989 - $191,900

Based on 9 car listings in the last 6 months

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