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Exploring the Swiss Alps in the new Q7

Raghuvir Srinivasan | Updated on January 24, 2018

New Audi Q7

New Audi Q7

Plush interiors: The well-coordinated colours and materials make the cabin anice place to be in.

Plush interiors The well-coordinated colours and materials make the cabin anice place to be in.

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Audi Q7

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The second gen has been in the works for a while. Is it worth the wait?

You can do worse than getting lost on the winding mountain roads of scenic Switzerland. Coming to think of it, it is not a bad thing at all especially if you’re driving the new Audi Q7 with a full tank on a day of glorious sunshine and with no particular hurry to reach your destination. Only one condition though; you need the ability to lose your way despite the guidance from the Q7’s excellent satellite-based navigation system, as we managed to do so. In the process though, we ended up having the Q7 at our disposal for double the time and distance than our colleagues managed to after taking over the wheel at the airport in Sion, a scenic little town tucked away in a valley in the Alps.

Lighter than its predecessor

The new Q7 is really an SUV that handles like a car. Audi has managed to shave off as much as 325 kg from the original version of the Q7, which was launched in 2006, thus bringing the vehicle to under two tonnes in weight for the petrol and just a shade above it for the diesel. The lower weight shows in the agile handling and in the fuel efficiency — the new Q7 guzzles 28 per cent less fuel than its predecessor.

The body frame is lighter by as much as 71 kg using up aluminium and hot-formed steel while the doors are lighter by 24 kg thanks to aluminium again. Audi has even managed to make the seats lighter by 19 kg but it doesn’t show in the comfort, fit and finish though. Net-net, the new Q7 is the lightest SUV in its class.

Our adventure, as we lost our way on narrow, steep and winding roads, was a test of agility for the new Q7 and the car came out with flying colours. However, it was a bit hair-raising to see the steep drop off the road.

Refined engine

We drove the 3.0 TDI V6 engine version which delivers 272 hp and can hit a top speed of 250 kmph. This is the one that is set to land in India later this year during the festival season. The new Q7 also comes with a petrol engine, the 3.0 TFSI, which delivers 333 hp. The diesel mill consumes an average of 5.7 litres per 100 km. The engine is mated with an 8-speed tiptronic automatic gearbox with the iconic Quattro all-wheel drive. You can hardly hear or feel the purr of the diesel when inside the car, signalling the high levels of engine refinement achieved by Audi.

The cabin is plush with leather seats and well-coordinated colours and materials. There is the Audi virtual cockpit with the 12.3 inch TFT multi media interface (MMI) monitor on the dash that displays graphic details that the driver needs to know, including whether he’s on the right track. The virtual cockpit is optional; a small 7-inch colour display behind the steering wheel serving as the driver information system comes as standard equipment. And then, of course, there is the head-up display that projects the speed, the speed-limit and the navigation map. That we managed to lose our way despite such assistance is something to be marvelled at! The car comes with varying seat configurations for the rear. Combinations include three-seat second row and a two-seat third row or just two rows with a larger luggage area.

High-tech infotainment

Audi also offers the option of an MMI module on the console of the centre tunnel where the driver and front passenger can write or pinch-to-zoom on the glass surface that gives a haptic response to the user’s finger. While this might be useful to left-hand drive cars where the driver’s right hand will be free to fiddle with the MMI, in India it might be difficult to use unless if the driver is left-handed. The new Q7, in line with the luxurious pedigree, also boasts of a wi-fi hotspot that mobile devices can connect to. Android and iOS smartphones can connect to the MMI monitor using Audi’s interface. The highlight of the in-cabin infotainment is of course the 3D sound system from Bang & Olufsen that integrates 23 speakers placed inside the car and delivers 1,920 Watts. Alternatively, you could also go for a Bose system. The rear seat passengers can also entertain themselves with two Audi tablets fixed on the front seat backrests. The new Q7 also offers all-wheel steering where the rear wheels turn a few degrees in the opposite direction at low speeds. This is a life-saver, especially while negotiating tight corners. Audi claims that the all-wheel steering reduces the turning circle radius by as much as a metre.

Higher driver safety

In line with its top-of-the-line technology image, Audi has introduced driver assistance systems in the new Q7 that promises to reduce the probability of accidents. For instance, the Audi pre-sense basic system, using a front camera on the windshield, networks the different systems of the vehicle and when it senses an unstable driving condition it electrically tightens seat belts, rolls up windows, closes the sun-roof and activates the hazard lights to warn following vehicles. The camera can see up to 100 metres ahead, read standard traffic signs and at speeds up to 85 kmph, it can observe the road with respect to other users. When the system detects the threat of a collision, it warns the driver in stages, initiates deceleration of the car and can even slam the emergency brake. Thankfully, we did not find ourselves in a situation where the system was put to the test!

It took more than eight years for Audi to refurbish the Q7 which first hit the market in 2006 but the Bavarian major has achieved a happy marriage between the robustness of an SUV and the technology and luxury of an upmarket sedan in the new Q7. Now, if only Audi’s technology could ensure that people who get lost in beautiful Switzerland stay that way until they are ready to get back to the hurly-burly of daily life…!

Published on June 04, 2015

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